• Tributes Pour in For “Sopranos” Star

    LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Tributes continued pouring in today for James Gandolfini, with his co-stars from “The Sopranos” praising the late actor’s generosity and loyalty as a friend.

    The 51-year-old actor, famed for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano on the HBO series, died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack in Italy.

    “I am shocked and devastated by Jim’s passing,” actress Edie Falco, who played Gandolfini’s wife Carmela on “The Sopranos,” said. “He was a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity, with a kindness and generosity beyond words. I consider myself very lucky to have spent 10 years as his close colleague.

    “My heart goes out to his family as those of us in his pretend one hold on to the memories of our intense and beautiful time together,” she said. “The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known.”

    Michael Imperioli, who portrayed Christopher Moltisanti on the show, said Gandolfini “treated us all like family with a generosity, loyalty and compassion that is rare in this world.”

    “Working with him was a pleasure and a privilege,” he said. “I will be forever grateful having had a friend the likes of Jimmy.”

    Gandolfini’s sister on the show, Aida Turturro, said she lost not only a friend, “but a true brother, on screen and off.”

    “James was the most generous actor to work with, but more so, a man with a heart of gold,” she said. “I love him and my heart goes out to his family.”

    Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his role as Tony Soprano. He won three Screen Actors Guild Awards for best actor in a drama, and shared two others for outstanding ensemble cast in a drama.

    “I’m truly crushed at the passing of my friend Jim Gandolfini,” the show’s executive producer, Terence Winter, said. “He was a gifted, fearless actor, respectful of everyone he met, and extraordinarily generous in every possible way. My heart goes out to his wife and children.”

    Gandolfini was vacationing in Italy with his 13-year-old son, Michael, who apparently discovered his father after he collapsed in their hotel room. The actor had been expected to appear at a film festival in Sicily later this week.

    Gandolfini is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, whom he married in 2008 and with whom he has an 8-month-old daughter, Liliana. He had his son Michael with his first wife, Marcy Wudarski.

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