James Gandolfini was staying at the Hotel Excedra in central Rome when he suffered an apparent heart attack. ABC News has learned that it was his 13-year-old son, Michael, who alerted the staff, telling them his father wasn't feeling well.
“The hotel notified the emergency crews who responded and first aid was administered…” says Mike Kobold, Gandolfini's friend.
The 51-year-old actor was rushed to Rome's main hospital in an ambulance at about 10:00 p.m. Wednesday night. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for 40 minutes in the ambulance and at the hospital… before he was pronounced dead.
“Mr. Gandolfini was taken to the hospital where he died of an apparent heart attack,” Kobold said.
For 86 episodes over 6 seasons on HBO, Gandolfini played a ruthless mobster, Tony Soprano, who became an American icon. As soon as the news of actor's passing spread, mourners have been flocking to Holsten's, a diner in Bloomfield, New Jersey where the famous final scene of “The Sopranos” was shot.
“I was completely shocked. I grew up in the area around here…I have a lot of sentimental feeling about it. I was a huge fan of the show, I felt
an urge to come here and take in the moement. He was a great actor,” said one fan.
“The Sopranos” was just one role for an actor who created a rich legacy of film and stage work in a life cut short.
John Travolta, who made five films with Gandolfini, said he was a good friend. “He was a people person first, and then work. And, it was empirical that he was this beautiful man and I love him very much,” Travolta said on Good Morning America.
The cause of death hasn't been confirmed because an autopsy needs to take place and, according to Italian law, it has to take place at least 24 hours after the person has been pronounced dead.