James Gandolfini, star of ‘The Sopranos’, dead at 51 of apparent heart attack

african kings

Actor James Gandolfini, who rose to fame as mob boss Tony Soprano on the hit HBO drama “The Sopranos,” has died of a possible heart attack, the network has confirmed to NBC News. He was 51.

According to HBO, the actor was vacationing in Rome; some reports say he was in Sicily to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival.

Gandolfini had appeared in numerous films before landing the role of Soprano, but it was the panic attack-stricken mob boss who would forever define him. He won  critical acclaim and three Emmy Awards and three Screen Actors Guild awards for the role, which he played from 1999-2007 on the groundbreaking show.

“I dabbled a little bit in acting in high school, and then I forgot about it completely,” Gandolfini told Vanity Fair in 2012. “And then at about 25 I went to a class. I don’t think anybody in my family thought it was an intelligent choice.”

Although a New Jersey native, Gandolfini didn’t expect to land the role of the head of the New Jersey crime family. “I thought that they would hire some good-looking guy, not George Clooney but some Italian George Clooney, and that would be that,” he told Vanity Fair.

Fans and fellow actors quickly took to social media to mourn.

Click here to read more.