June 19, 2013: James Gandolfini dies at the age of 51
As Tony Soprano, New Jersey native James Gandolfini earned millions of fans around the world. His performance on The Sopranos also earned him numerous accolades, including three Emmys. Unfortunately, this beloved actor had their life cut short during a trip overseas.
Vacation with family
In June 2013, Gandolfini was getting ready to promote his upcoming movie Enough Said. More importantly, he was heading to Sicily for the Taormina Film Fest. The TV star was set to be awarded the Taormina City Prize for his acclaimed work. Aside from the award, Gandolfini was teaching a master class that weekend. Prior to the award ceremony, he decided to head to Rome with his wife Deborah and son Michael.
A horrific discovery
During their time in Rome, Gandolfini and his family spent a plethora of time sightseeing. On June 19, 2013, Michael went looking for him at the hotel. He found him, but it wasn’t in the way he wanted. Gandolfini was found unconscious in the bathroom. Paramedics from Policlinic Umberto I hospital tried saving him, but it was too late. Gandolfini would die from a heart attack at the age of 51. “The resuscitation maneuvers, including heart massage etc., continued for 40 minutes and then, seeing no electric activity from the heart, this was interrupted and we declared James dead,” emergency room chief Claudio Modini told Reuters.
Paying tribute to an icon
News of his death rocked everyone from former New Jersey governor Chris Christie to actress Bette Midler. His Sopranos co-stars were completely devastated at his passing. “He was a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity, with a kindness and generosity beyond words. I consider myself very lucky to have spent 10 years as his close colleague. My heart goes out to his family,” co-star Edie Falco said in a press release.
His hometown of Park Ridge, New Jersey chose to memorialize him in a big way. December 1st would be declared James Gandolfini Day in the neighborhood. Months later, he would get inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. While he’s gone, his portrayal of Tony Soprano will forever be the blueprint of pristine acting.