Actor James Gandolfini dies of heart attack in Italy

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano.

According to reports, actor James Gandolfini, famous for his role as Tony Soprano in the popular HBO series, “The Sopranos”, has died in Italy. HBO and Variety confirmed his passing. He was 51.

The actor was in Italy to attend a film festival when he reportedly suffered a heart attack, according to published sources. He was slated to participate in the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.

HBO called the actor “a great talent and a gentle and loving person,” in a statement.

Gandolfini won three Emmy awards for his role as a mob boss on "The Sopranos" and was scheduled to start a new HBO series.

Born in New Jersey, Gandolfini made his Broadway debut in the 1992 revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” alongside Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange. His breakthrough on the big screen came in “True Romance” when he played the hitman, Virgil, in the Tony Scott-directed film.

In 1999 he was cast as the lead in HBO’s critically-acclaimed mob series and received worldwide fame as the head of the organized crime family. He won three Emmy awards for the role.

His film career includes roles in such films as "Zero Dark Thirty,” “8MM,” and “Killing Them Softly.” He also appeared in the Broadway production "God of Carnage."

He is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, and a son, Michael.