NEW YORK CITY — Actor James Gandolfini, best known for his role as an angst-ridden New Jersey mob boss on the hit HBO series "The Sopranos," has died, the cable network confirmed Wednesday evening. He was 51.
Gandolfini, who lived in TriBeCa, was traveling with his family in Rome when he is believed to have suffered a heart attack, said an HBO spokeswoman.
"We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family," said a network spokeswoman in a statement.
"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."
Gandolfini got his start co-starring with Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange on stage in a 1992 revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire." But he will always be remembered as the hand-wringing North Jersey mafia godfather Tony Soprano, a role that earned him three Emmy Awards.
Actors who worked with Gandolfini mourned his loss and remembered his talent and his professionalism.
"We lost a giant today. I am utterly heartbroken," Lorraine Bracco, who played Soprano's shrink Dr. Jennifer Melfi, said in a statement.
Jeff Daniels, who worked with him on stage, recalled his stamina.
“If Broadway has a version of a guy you want in your foxhole, Jim Gandolfini was mine. During our time together in "God of Carnage," we played 320 performances together. He didn't miss one. Sadly, I now miss him like a brother,” he said in a statement.
Edie Falco, who played mob wife Carmela Soprano to Gandolfini's Tony, said in a statement, "I am shocked and devastated by Jim's 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."
Actor Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti in "The Sopranos," said in a statement, "Jimmy treated us all like family with a generosity, loyalty and compassion that is rare in this world. Working with him was a pleasure and a privilege."