James Gandolfini, award winning star of “The Sopranos,” dead at 51

James Gandolfini, whose performance as mob boss Tony Soprano in HBO’s seminal series “The Sopranos” earned him multiple Emmy Awards, has passed away in Rome after an apparent heart attack. He was 51.

The New Jersey born actor first made an impression when he made his Broadway debut in the revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1992. I was fortunate to see the show during it’s limited run and Gandolfini more than held his own against top billed stars Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange. Film fans will remember him as the hit man assigned to kill Patricia Arquette in Tony Scott’s adaptation of Quentin Tarantino’s “True Romance.”

Memorable supporting performances in films like “Get Shorty,” “A Civil Action” and “Fallen” led him to what would be the role he will most be associated with, Tony Soprano. His work earned him six Emmy nominations (and three awards) as well as four Golden Globe nods (with one win). He took advantage of his new popularity by getting lead roles in such films as “The Last Castle,” “The Taking of Pelham One, Two Three” and last year’s Best Picture nominee “Zero Dark Thirty.” He also gave an amazing performance (my words) giving voice to the character of Carol in the film adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are.” He also returned to Broadway in 2009, earning a Best Actor in a Play Tony Award nomination for “Gods of Carnage.”

He was seen on screen earlier this year in the Steve Carell comedy “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” and, according to the Internet Movie Data Base, has two more film projects being released posthumously.


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