Stars React on Twitter to James Gandolfini's Death at 51

The man known as Tony Soprano to everyone around the world shockingly passes away in Italy

A great acting career has ended far too soon. Former Sopranos star James Gandolfini, 51, died on Wednesday while vacationing with his family in Rome, Italy. The cause, according to the New York Daily News, was a "massive heart attack."

"Everyone is in tears," a friend told the paper.

Gandolfini had a reputation as a wonderful guy: softspoken, hardworking, and passionate about giving back to his community. (He was a strong supporter of the Octoberwoman Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, located in his New Jersey hometown, and of the troops overseas.) Of course, most of us know him as Tony Soprano, the suburban mafia boss at the heart of HBO's groundbreaking drama. It's considered by many to be the greatest television performance of all time; Gandolfini managed to be lovable and repulsive, hilarious and dangerous, thoughtful and oblivious, all at once. Gandolfini garnered three Emmy awards for playing Tony, and managed to create an entirely new kind of television character: the sympathetic anti-hero. There would be no Don Draper, Walter White or Nucky Thompson without Tony Soprano.

Ever since the controversial Sopranos series finale in 2007, Gandolfini has shied away from the spotlight. Mostly, he made small films, some of which (Zero Dark Thirty, In the Loop) became big. At the time of his death, he had several new projects in the works, including an HBO series called Criminal Justice. Though it would have been tough to top Tony Soprano, we'll never know if his best work was ahead of him.

The actor leaves behind an eight-month-old daughter with wife Deborah Lin, and a teenage son from his first marriage. He also leaves behind many grieving friends, who are paying tribute to his life and work online. Below, some of the Twitter messages posted in homage to a TV legend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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