James Gandolfini, 'Sopranos' Star, Dies at 51 Years Old

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UPDATE: The Associated Press has confirmed Gandolfini died of a heart attack Wednesday.

EARLIER: James Gandolfini died Wednesday, HBO has confirmed. The actor, who was in Italy to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival, was 51 years old. The exact cause of death is not yet known — conflicting reports claim the actor died of stroke or a heart attack.

HBO released the following statement to Bustle.com after his passing: "We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was 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."

Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders, Gandolfini's managers, issued the following statement, "It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy. 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."

The actor was amping up his film and TV work prior to his death. Not only was Gandolfini filming Animal Rescue and HBO pilot Criminal Justice, but the actor had just appeared in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and 2012's Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty.

Gandolfini worked steadily after The Sopranos wrapped in 2007, appearing in high-profile films like The Taking of Pelham 123, Where the Wild Things Are, and the aforementioned Zero Dark Thirty. The actor, however, will always be best known for playing Tony Soprano, a role that won him three Emmys and one Golden Globe. Gandolfini inhabited Tony Soprano for for six seasons, helping the series and HBO earn critical raves and commercial success.

Still, the actor enjoyed a healthy career prior to landing The Sopranos — built like a mob boss, he often secured roles in crime-centric projects like 1993's True Romance and 1995's Get Shorty. But Gandolfini was able to showcase his range later in life with dramas like 2006's All the King's Men and 2010's Welcome to the Rileys.

After Sopranos wrapped with a famous cut to black, Gandolfini maintained a close relationship with HBO, filming TV movie Cinema Verite with the cable network, and joining Criminal Justice, a seven-part crime drama with HBO.

The actor leaves behind wife Deborah Lin, a son, Michael, a daughter, Liliana, and a legion of adoring fans that will never fuhgettabout the man also known as Tony Soprano.

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