American actor James Gandolfini, best known for his role as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, about a troubled crime boss struggling to balance his family life and career in the Mafia, has died while n vacation in Italy. He was just 51 years old. Born to an Italian immigrant father and a first generation Italian-American mother he was born & raised in New Jersey. He held a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Rutgers University, where he worked as a bouncer at an on-campus pub. Prior to his acting career taking off Gandolfini also worked as a bartender & a club manager.
Gandolfini’s most acclaimed role was that of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey Mafia boss and family man who was the lead character in The Sopranos, which debuted in 1999. He won three Emmys for “Best Actor in a Drama” for his depiction of Soprano, who constantly questions his identity and purpose. For his performance, the actor’s role was listed in the top 50 tv icons of all time in Entertainment Weekly. Gandolfini has also performed on stage on Broadway productions. Among his film roles are that of Virgil, a brutal woman-beating mob enforcer, in the 1993 romantic thriller True Romance and a Russian mobster disguised as an insurance salesman in Terminal Velocity. He was also in Get Shorty, The Juror & played the Mayor of New York in the 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123. In 2007, Gandolfini produced a documentary with HBO focused on injured Iraq War veterans and their devotion to America, while surveying the physical and emotional costs of war. He also produced another documentary with HBO, which analyzed the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) throughout American history, from 1861 to 2010. He also acted in Killing Them Softly, Zero Dark Thirty & the voice of ‘Carol’ in Where The Wild Things Are.
On June 19, 2013, Gandolfini died while vacationing in Rome. According to the New York Times, “a cause of death was not immediately announced; a press representative for HBO said that Mr. Gandolfini may have died from a heart attack, though other news reports said he died from a stroke. He is survived by his second wife & two children.
James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr. (September 18, 1961 – June 19, 2013)