James Gandolfini Dead at 51

UPDATE 5:47 PST: James Gandolfini’s managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders released a statement confirming the actor’s death.

“It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy. Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply. He and his family were part of our family for many years and we are all grieving.”

HBO also released a statement:

“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was 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 humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”

The Sopranos star James Gandolfini has died from a suspected heart attack in Italy.

He was 51.

Gandolfini received three Primetime Emmy Awards and three Screen Actors Guild Awards for his portrayal of one of the greatest characters in television history, Tony Soprano. The beloved HBO series’ sixth and final season aired in June 2007.

According to TMZ, the actor had been in Italy for the 59th Taormina Film Festival. He was scheduled to appear at an event this weekend.

Gandolfini leaves behind wife Deborah Lin, their baby daughter Liliana (born in October) and Gandolfini’s son Michael from a previous marriage.

Tony Sirico, James Gandolfini and Vincent Pastore in 2009. [Courtesy of Getty Images].

Tony Sirico, who played Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri on The Sopranos told Celebuzz late Wednesday afternoon: “He was one of my closest friends. I loved him. He was very instrumental in helping me with my career. He was like family.”

James Gandolfini and Steven Schirripa in 2005. [Courtesy of FilmMagic].

Steven Schirripa who played Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri said, “Jimmy was a dear friend and like a brother to me. He was a great actor and a great father. I will miss him terribly. I am very sad.”

Michael Imperioli, Joseph Gannascoli and James Gandolfini in a Sopranos promotional photo. [Courtesy of HBO]

Added Joseph R. Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore on the show, “Jimmy and I were not the closest of friends, but I am forever indebted to him. He came with his son and spoke at my wedding, came to my restaurant to meet fans sick as a dog in the rain and stayed for hours. He also said he would go in and talk to David Chase with me if I didn’t want to play my role on the show. Just a humble and gifted actor and person.”

In recent years, Gandolfini has appeared in films including the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, Welcome to the Rileys, Zero Dark Thirty and this year’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. His last known project was opposite Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace in Animal Rescue, a crime drama which is still in production.

On the TV front, Gandolfini most recently served as a co-producer on the HBO film Hemingway & Gellhorn, starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen.