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James Gandolfini Dead: Sopranos Star Dies of Heart Attack at 51

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James Gandolfini has died of a heart attack at age 51 Monica Schipper/FilmMagic

James Gandolfini, the Emmy Award-winning actor best known for his work on HBO's The Sopranos, has died in Italy, HBO confirms. The star is said to have suffered a sudden heart attack while on vacation on Wednesday, June 19. He was 51.

UPDATE: "We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family," the network said in a statement to Us Weekly. "He was 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. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us."

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UPDATE: David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, tells Us in a statement: "He was a genius. 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. I remember telling him many times, 'You don't get it. You're like Mozart.' There would be silence at the other end of the phone. For Deborah and Michael and Liliana this is crushing. And it's bad for the rest of the world. He wasn't easy sometimes.  But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can't explain and never will be able to explain."

Gandolfini's managers, Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders, also expressed their grief over his passing. "It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy," they said in a joint statement. "Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply. He and his family were part of our family for many years and we are all grieving."

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Gandolfini won three Emmys for his portrayal of mob boss Tony Soprano. More recently, he appeared in Zero Dark Thirty and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. He had alsos been working on the upcoming crime thriller Animal Rescue and the TV series Criminal Justice, which was picked up by HBO in May.

Actress Rose McGowan, who did a USO tour with the actor, was among the first to express her condolences over Gandolfini's death on Twitter. "I am heartbroken about James Gandolfini," she tweeted. "He was a gentle giant and great man…I loved him."

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Gandolfini is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, and two kids, son Michael and daughter Liliana.

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