ROME — James Gandolfini, film and television actor and star of the popular TV drama The Sopranos, died Wednesday night after cardiac arrest on vacation in Italy, where he was to appear at a film festival in the town of Sicily.
The actor's body was transferred to the morgue at the Policlinico Umberto I Hospital in Rome where an autopsy will be performed. The autopsy must be performed within 24 hours after the morgue receives a body, according to Italian law.
Sources at the emergency room where Gandolfini was taken suggest that he may have died of a heart attack
By law, medical examiners in Italy are required to carry out the postmortem 24 hours after the body's arrival in the morgue, a hospital spokesman said.
Ambulance staff tried to resuscitate Gandolfini at the hotel, and further efforts were made when he reached the emergency room, but Gandolfini was dead when he arrived at the hospital, according to the sources at the emergency room.
The U.S. Embassy in Rome must issue a death certificate before his remains are released for transport back to the United States.
Comments of sadness are just starting to pour in via social media from the Hollywood community.
"Oh Jimmy. It's a crying shame. You stormed in and out. Your voice like velvet granite. From a whisper to a shout. A comet of a man," actor Mark Ruffalo said via Twitter.
The diner in New Jersey where the last scene of the popular HBO series was fimed placed a "Reserved" sign on the table to honor his memory.
Gandolfini, who rose to fame as Tony Soprano, the tough mob boss with a vulnerable side, on The Sopranos won three Emmys plus numerous other accolades for his role.
A humble actor, Gandolfini was very proud of his Italian heritage and his New Jersey roots.
Gandolfini was 51 years old.