Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 1 February 2015

Tributes flood in for Sopranos star James Gandolfini after his death

Actor was best known for in role as mob boss Tony Soprano

The actor James Gandolfini, best known for his iconic portrayal of troubled mobster Tony Soprano, has died aged 51
The actor James Gandolfini, best known for his iconic portrayal of troubled mobster Tony Soprano, has died aged 51
FILE - This May 20, 2013 file photo shows actor James Gandolfini at the LA premiere of "Nicky Deuce" in Los Angeles. HBO and the managers for Gandolfini say the actor died Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Italy. He was 51. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, file)
A reserved sign sits on the booth where the last show of the HBO series "The Sopranos" was filmed at Holsten's ice cream parlor, Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Bloomfield, N.J. James Gandolfini, whose portrayal of a brutal, emotionally fragile mob boss helped create one of TV's greatest drama series and turned the mobster stereotype on its head, died Wednesday in Italy. He was 51. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
FILE - This 2007 file photo originally supplied by HBO, shows James Gandolfini, left, Steven Van Zandt and Tony Sirico, right, members of the cast of the HBO cable television mob drama "The Sopranos." HBO and the managers for Gandolfini say the actor died Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Italy. He was 51. (AP Photo/HBO,Craig Blankenhorn)
FILE - This undated publicity image released by HBO shows, from left, Tony Sirico, Steven Van Zandt, James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli and Vicint Pastore,from the HBO drama series "The Sopranos." HBO and the managers for Gandolfini say the actor died Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Italy. He was 51. (AP Photo/HBO, Anthony Neste, file)
FILE - This file photo released by HBO in 2007 shows James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in a scene from one of the last episodes of the HBO dramatic series "The Sopranos." HBO and the managers for Gandolfini say the actor died Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Italy. He was 51. (AP Photo/HBO, Craig Blankenhorn, File)
File photo dated 21/09/03 of actor James Gandolfini holding his award for outstanding lead actor in the drama series, "The Sopranos" during the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, USA. Tributes have poured in for James Gandolfini, the American actor best known for his role as the mob boss in The Sopranos, who died yesterday at the age of 51. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday June 20, 2013. Gandolfini died on holiday in Rome, according to the HBO TV network and his managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders. It is understood he was in the country to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival, and he is believed to have died from a suspected heart attack. See PA story DEATH Gandolfini. Photo credit should read: Francis Specker/PA Wire
File photo dated 10/07/11 of James Gandolfini attending the BAFTA Brits to watch event held at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles, USA. Tributes have poured in for James Gandolfini, the American actor best known for his role as the mob boss in The Sopranos, who died yesterday at the age of 51. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday June 20, 2013. Gandolfini died on holiday in Rome, according to the HBO TV network and his managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders. It is understood he was in the country to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival, and he is believed to have died from a suspected heart attack. See PA story DEATH Gandolfini. Photo credit should read: Mark Large/PA Wire
FILE JUNE 19: According to reports June 19, 2013 James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy. He was 51 LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 27: Actor James Gandolfini poses with his Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Award for "The Sopranos" in the press room during the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
FILE JUNE 19: According to reports June 19, 2013 James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy. NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 07: Actor James Gandolfini speaks onstage at the 2012 New York Film Critics Circle Awards at Crimson on January 7, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
FILE JUNE 19: According to reports June 19, 2013 James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy. HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 10: Actor James Gandolfini arrives at the premiere of Columbia Pictures' "Zero Dark Thirty" held at the Dolby Theatre on December 10, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Getty Images)
FILE JUNE 19: According to reports June 19, 2013 James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy. NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: Actor James Gandolfini attends the after party for a screening of The Weinstein Company's "Killing Them Softly" hosted by The Cinema Society With Men's Health And DeLeon on November 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
FILE JUNE 19: According to reports June 19, 2013 James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy. HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 20: Actor James Gandolfini attends the Premiere Of HBO's "The Newsroom" at the ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on June 20, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
FILE JUNE 19: According to reports June 19, 2013 James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy. LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 18: Actor James Gandolfini arrives at the Keep Memory Alive foundation's "Power of Love Gala" celebrating Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena February 18, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event benefits the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive)
FILE JUNE 19: According to reports June 19, 2013 James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy. BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 05: Actor James Gandolfini arrives at the 4th Annual Television Academy Honors held at Beverly Hills Hotel on May 5, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
FILE JUNE 19: According to reports June 19, 2013 James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy. PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Actor James Gandolfini speaks during the 'Cinema Verite' panel at the HBO portion of the 2011 Winter TCA press tour held at the Langham Hotel on January 7, 2011 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The actor James Gandolfini, best known for his iconic portrayal of troubled mobster Tony Soprano, has died aged 51. He suffered a suspected heart attack on Wednesday while on holiday in Rome.

Tributes poured in from Hollywood and beyond for the actor who brought to vivid life the conflicted crime boss at the heart of The Sopranos, perhaps the most acclaimed small-screen series of all time. His performance helped to usher in a golden age of cable television drama, and cemented the HBO channel’s name as a byword for quality.

In a statement yesterday, Sopranos creator David Chase described Gandolfini as a “genius”, saying, “He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.’ There would be silence at the other end of the phone… He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”

Like his most famous character, Gandolfini was an Italian-American from New Jersey. Born in 1961, he worked as a barman and bouncer in New York City before a friend persuaded him to attend an acting class. In 1992 he was cast alongside Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin in a Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. The following year he took a supporting role as a hood in the Quentin Tarantino-scripted movie, True Romance.

It was that performance which earned him the role of Tony Soprano, who juggled his murderous work with an ostensibly sedate suburban family life, and whom Gandolfini played for six series from 1999 to 2007. He was nominated for six Emmy Awards, winning three.

On Wednesday night, fans arrived in force at the ice cream shop in Bloomfield, New Jersey where the final diner scene of The Sopranos was shot. The table where Tony and his family sat during that scene was left empty, however, but for a reserved sign in Gandolfini’s memory. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in a tweet that the actor was a “NJ treasure”.

Gandolfini’s film career included memorable supporting roles in Get Shorty (1995), Crimson Tide (1995), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), Killing Them Softly (2012) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012). Shortly before his death, he had been working on a US remake of the BBC series Criminal Justice for HBO. “We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” HBO said in a statement. “He was a special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humour, his warmth and his humility.”

Gandolfini is survived by his wife Deborah Lin and their daughter Liliana, who was born in October. He also has a teenage son, Michael, from his first marriage to Marcy Wudarksi.

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