The much-loved actor James Gandolfini has died at the age of 51 following a suspected heart attack. Known to fans around the world as troubled mobster Tony Soprano, he also made an impression in films like True Romance and Get Shorty. He had great fun playing a cynical US general in In The Loop and recently appeared in Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty. Fellow actors praised his natural charisma and ability to become absorbed by a character. It was expected that he would have many great performances yet to deliver.
Besides acting, Gandolfini produced two documentaries on the psychological effects of war and did extensive work to support serving soldiers. A former door steward who loved motorbikes and was dreaming of getting a tattoo, the man who described himself as "not very interesting" was once ranked by TV Guide as one off the 50 sexiest stars of all time. Becoming a star was an accident but he acknowledged it was fun and his joie de vivre won him many friends in the industry.
Gandolfini's father was Italian and he always spent a lot of time in Italy, thinking of himself as something close to a native. He was in Rome when he died. He is survived by his wife Deborah Lin, their infant daughter Liliana and his teenage son from a previous marriage, Michael.