James Gandolfini, best known for his role as an angst-ridden mob boss on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” has died at age 51 while on vacation in Italy, reportedly due to a possible heart attack or stroke.
Gandolfini performed in three Broadway shows, starting in the 1992 production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” then in “On The Waterfront” in 1995, and, most memorably, in “God of Carnage” in 2009, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.
But it was as Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos,” from 1999 to 2007, that Gandolfini went from character actor to star.
He was born September 18, 1961, in Westwood, New Jersey, worked as a bartender and a bouncer before stumbling onto an acting class.
“I dabbled a little bit in acting in high school, and then I forgot about it completely. And then at about 25 I went to a class. I don’t think anybody in my family thought it was an intelligent choice. I don’t think anybody thought I’d succeed, which is understandable. I think they were just happy that I was doing something.”
“I’m an actor… I do a job and I go home. Why are you interested in me? You don’t ask a truck driver about his job.”
He is survived by his wife, a 13-year-old son, and a nine-month-old daughter.