HBO-mediumActor James Gandolfini, best known for playing Tony Soprano in the hit HBO drama series The Sopranos, has died aged 51.

It is reported that Gandolfini suffered a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Rome. He was due to make an appearance at the Taormina film festival in Sicily at the weekend.

The award winning Sopranos ran from 1999 until 2007 and centred around Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano as he tried to juggle his home life with the murky underground world. Gandolfini won three Emmy awards for his portrayal of Tony.

Born in New Jersey in 1961, he gained a BA in Communication before moving to New York City in the early 1990s to begin a career as an actor.

David Chase, the man behind the Sopranos, said: “He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.”

Gandolfini is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, and their daughter born last year and a teenage son from a previous marriage.

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