James Gandolfini passed away suddenly yesterday after he was discovered having a heart attack in his hotel bathroom by his teenage son Michael.
The “Sopranos” star was on vacation in Rome with Michael, 13, his wife Deborah and their nine-month-old daughter Liliana, where he wanted to “reconnect with his Italian roots” before attending the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.
The family had enjoyed a day out before the 51-year-old actor was found having a heart attack in the bathroom of his room at Hotel Boscolo by his teen son Michael.
Michael alerted the hotel staff, who called for paramedics.
Paramedics arrived to take Gandolfini to hospital and found him lying on the bathroom floor, according to hotel owner Antonio D’amore.
Gandolfini was rushed to Policlinico Umberto I hospital at 10:20 p.m., but attempts to revive him were not successful.
An autopsy on his body will take place today, which is required by Italian law.
Mario Sesti, director of the film festival which the star was due to attend this weekend, claimed that Gandolfini was excited by his Italian vacation because of his family’s link to the country.
Sesti said, “He was so happy to be in Italy, to reconnect with his Italian roots, and he was very excited to come here and receive this award.”
Gandolfini was born and raised in New Jersey, but both of his parents were Italian.
The actor and his family had spent a “beautiful day out together” in Rome before his tragic passing, according to Gandolfini’s assistant, Tom Richardson.
Richardson said, “When they got back to the hotel, Jimmy went to use the restroom. And something happened in there. His sister said he was alive when they took him out in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.”
Gandolfini’s first wife Marcy Wudarski, Michael’s mother, immediately booked a flight to Italy to comfort her son after learning of the actor’s death. The couple were married for three years until they divorced in 2002.
James Gandolfini’s second wife, former model Deborah Lin, was with the star in Italy along with their daughter Liliana.
The couple married in Hawaii in 2008 and Liliana was born last October.
The actor rose to fame playing a hitman in the 1993 film “True Romance”, but is most known for his role as mobster Tony Soprano in HBO’s “The Sopranos”.
Tony Soprano died in the series finale of the show, but viewers weren’t shown the moment of his death. The screen just faded to black.
Gandolfini told Vanity Fair of the show’s ending, “What the f***? I mean, after all I went through, all this death, and then it’s over like that?”
The sudden death of Gandolfini prompted a huge outpouring of grief from those who worked with the actor, with many celebrities taking to Twitter to pay tribute.
Actor and friend Gilles Marini revealed on his Facebook page that Gandolfini had traveled to Italy with his son Michael for a “boy trip”.
Marini wrote, “I am heartbroken. My bud James Gandolfini just died. Last Saturday he told me at our kids graduation [that] he was so happy to go with his son to Italy. A boy trip! It was an honor to have met this man, such a great Dad! I spent so much time with James son teaching him soccer. I feel for that kid it must be so hard right now for little [Michael] .”
Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano’s wife Carmela Soprano,said Gandolfini was “a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity, with a kindness and generosity beyond words.”
“My heart goes out to his family,” she added. “As those of us in his pretend one hold on to the memories of our intense and beautiful time together. The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known.”
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