James Gandolfini, 1961 – 2013

It’s with sad news we write that James Gandolfini passed away due to a suspected heart attack in Italy. He was 51.

Gandolfini was born on September 18, 1961, in Westwood, NJ. His mother, a high school lunch lady, was raised in Italy, and his father, a bricklayer and custodian, was born in Italy. Gandolfini was raised with strong Italian influences and visited the country frequently.

Gandolfini began acting in school plays and received his first big acting job in a 1992 Broadway production of On the Waterfront. His first big film role was as a mob enforcer in the 1993 film True Romance. In 1995, he appeared in Get Shorty as an ex-stuntman and in Crimson Tide alongside Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman. It wasn’t until 1999 that he became a household name.

Revolving around a New Jersey-based mob family, The Sopranos lasted six seasons and 86 episodes. It was one of the most financially successful series of all time and ranked as one of the best television series of all time. It was recently named the best written show of all time by the Writers Guild of America.

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As Tony Soprano, Gandolfini won three Emmys for Best Actor in a Drama.

After The Sopranos ended, Gandolfini went on to a number of different projects, including two documentaries about war, Alive Day: Home form Iraq and Wartorn: 1861 – 2010, both focusing on the physical and emotional costs war takes on American soldiers. He played a Wild Thing in Where the Wild Things Are and, last year, was a C.I.A. Director in Zero Dark Thirty.

Goldolfini leaves behind his wife, Deborah Lin, and son, Michael.

We here at Break are incredibly saddened by this news. Gandolfini was a tremendous and unique actor and most importantly, a good man. And while he was known as a dramatic actor, he also had severe comedic chops. You’ll be missed, sir.

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