James Gandolfini Dead at 51; Family Awaits Autopsy

Actor James Gandolfini has died at the age of 51 while on vacation in Rome. Gandolfini, best known for his role as Tony Soprano on the HBO series "The Sopranos," leaves two children and new wife behind.

"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," Mario Sesti, Taormina Film Festival's artistic director, told USA Today.

Gandolfini was touring the area with his son, 13-year-old son Michael. He allegedly suffered a heart attack while at his hotel; Michael alerted the hotel staff, who called for an ambulance. Gandolfini was later pronounced dead by hospital staff; they claim he died before arriving at the hospital.

His body now remains in the hospital morgue, awaiting autopsy before transport back to the United States.

"This is young to have a heart attack, even when you look at any pre-existing health conditions," CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta explained.

Co-workers and fans paid glowing respects to Gandolfini online.

"Too soon to lose such a gifted actor of screen & stage. Great Jersey guy. Missing James Gandolfini this morning & the days to follow," tweeted Rachael Ray.

"He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. He wasn't easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can't explain and never will be able to explain," David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos," said in an official statement.

"We lost a giant today. I am utterly heartbroken," co-star Lorraine Bracco added.

Not only was Gandolfini king of "The Sopranos," he was able to take on Broadway as well. In 2009, he earned a best-actor Tony Award nomination for his role in "God of Carnage."

Gandolfini leaves behind wife Deborah, and two children, nine-month-old Liliana and 13-year-old Michael from a previous marriage.