Tributes have poured in for James Gandolfini, the American actor best known for his role as the mob boss in The Sopranos, who died on Wednesday at the age of 51.
Gandolfini died on holiday in Rome. Doctors said he suffered a cardiac arrest. Dr Claudio Modini, head of the emergency room at the Policlinic Umberto I hospital, said Gandolfini arrived at the hospital at 10:20 pm and was pronounced dead at 11 pm after resuscitation efforts in the ambulance and hospital.
It is understood he was in the country to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival. "Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply," his managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders said. "He and his family were part of our family for many years and we are all grieving."
In a statement HBO TV network called him 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".
Gandolfini played Tony Soprano in the groundbreaking series that aired from 1999 to 2007, winning three Emmy awards and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the conflicted mob boss who was both brutal and emotionally delicate. Sopranos creator David Chase described Gandolfini as "a genius", saying: "Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes."
Joe Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore in the drama series, said he was shocked and heartbroken at the news of his colleague's death. "Fifty-one and leaves a kid - he was newly married. His son is fatherless now. It's way too young," he said.
Tributes to Gandolfini came from Hollywood's biggest stars and beyond. Actor Michael J Fox wrote on Twitter: "Shocked and saddened by James Gandolfini's passing. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends," while actress Lindsay Lohan wrote: "James Gandolfini was a dear friend and a great man. My heart goes out to his family. He will be greatly missed."
Comedian Robin Williams said through Twitter: "My thoughts and prayers go out to James Gandolfini's family. An extraordinary actor. RIP, Mr Gandolfini," while actress Mia Farrow said: "Awful awful news. James Gandolfini will be missed. He was a great actor. Just great." Oscar winner Susan Sarandon tweeted: "So sad to lose James Gandolfini. One of the sweetest, funniest, most generous actors I've ever worked with. Sending prayers to his family."
Gandolfini's performance as Tony Soprano was indelible and career-making, but he refused to be stereotyped as the bulky mobster who was a therapy patient, family man and cold-blooded killer. After the series concluded with an ending that left viewers guessing, Gandolfini's varied film work also took in comedy, with Armando Ianucci's political satire In The Loop, and voiceover as the Wild Thing Carol in Where the Wild Things Are. His film credits included Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly, and he also shared a Broadway stage in 2009 with Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden in the celebrated production of God Of Carnage, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination for best actor. He also was in On the Waterfront with David Morse.
Gandolfini and his wife Deborah, who were married in 2008, have a daughter Liliana, born last year, HBO said. The actor and his former wife Marcy have a teenage son, Michael.