Actor James Gandolfini Dies at 51
LOS ANGELES (AP) — James Gandolfini's lumbering, brutish mob boss with the tortured psyche will endure as one of TV's indelible characters.
But his portrayal of criminal Tony Soprano in HBO's landmark drama series "The Sopranos" was just one facet of an actor who created a rich legacy of film and stage work in a life cut short.
Gandolfini, 51, who died Wednesday while vacationing in Rome, refused to be bound by his star-making role in the HBO series that brought him three Emmy Awards during its six-season run.
"He was a genius," said "Sopranos" creator David Chase. "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."
Dr. Claudio Modini, head of the emergency room at the Policlinic Umberto I hospital in Rome, said Gandolfini arrived at the hospital at 10:20 p.m. (2020 GMT, 4:20 p.m. EDT) Wednesday and was pronounced dead at 11 p.m. after resuscitation efforts in the ambulance and hospital failed.
Modini told The Associated Press that an autopsy would be performed starting 24 hours after the death, as required by law.
Organizers of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily were scrambling to put together a tribute to Gandolfini, who had been expected to attend the festival's closing ceremony this weekend and receive an award. Organizers Mario Sesti and Tiziana Rocca said Gandolfini will instead be honored with a tribute "remembering his career and talent."
Sesti and Rocca said they had spoken to Gandolfini hours before his death "and he was very happy to receive this prize and be able to travel to Italy."