Actor James Gandolfini dead at 51

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Emmy-award winning actor James Gandolfini has died.

Best known for his portrayal of Tony Soprano in HBO's series "The Sopranos," Gandolfini passed away while on vacation in Italy. He was 51 years old.

James Gandolfini suffered a heart attack on Wednesday evening at Hotel Boscolo in Piazza de Republica in Rome.

The hotel manager told NBC News that the actor was in the room at about 10:00 pm local time with his 13-year-old son Michael. At about that time he fell on the bathroom floor and Michael called for help.

The hotel staff rushed up to the room and then realized that even though they say he was still breathing, he was in immediate need of medical attention. They called for an ambulance.

When the ambulance arrived, Gandolfini's sister arrived by chance at the same time.

The ambulance drove him to the nearest hospital, which was about three minutes from the hotel. Gandolfini was pronounced dead upon arrival.

His body remains at a morgue in Rome. He will have to go through an autopsy before the family will be allowed to take the body back home.

HBO confirmed the report Wednesday evening, releasing the following statement:

"We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time.  He will be deeply missed by all of us."

The actor gained fame playing lead character Tony Soprano in the HBO series "The Sopranos," which ran for six seasons starting in 1999. He also appeared in movies including "True Romance," "Get Shorty," and "Zero Dark Thirty."

Take a look at Gandolfini's filmography here.