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Heart attack killed 'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini, friend says

From Alex Felton, CNN
updated 10:15 PM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013
James Gandolfini, who gained fame playing a memorable mafia boss on HBO's "The Sopranos," died after suffering a heart attack in Italy on Wednesday, June 19. Pictured, Gandolfini at the premiere of "Zero Dark Thirty" in 2012. James Gandolfini, who gained fame playing a memorable mafia boss on HBO's "The Sopranos," died after suffering a heart attack in Italy on Wednesday, June 19. Pictured, Gandolfini at the premiere of "Zero Dark Thirty" in 2012.
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'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An autopsy confirms James Gandolfini died of a heart attack, a family friend says
  • "There was no foul play," he adds
  • Gandolfini was taken to a Rome hospital Wednesday from his hotel
  • The actor had been scheduled to receive an award at an Italian film festival

Rome (CNN) -- An autopsy has determined that actor James Gandolfini's death Wednesday was the result of natural causes -- a heart attack -- family friend Michael Kobold told reporters here Friday.

"There was nothing out of the ordinary," he said. "There was no foul play, there was no substance abuse, none of that."

The 51-year-old actor had arrived Tuesday with his son, Michael, at the five-star Boscolo Exedra Roma.

"Jim was happy, he was healthy, he was doing really fine," Kobold said. "He was on vacation with his son. He has an 8-month-old daughter. Everything was going great. I just spoke to him on Father's Day."

When the news broke on Wednesday that "The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini died at 51, tributes poured in around the world, including CNN iReport. "So long, paisan" was how Orlando, Florida, resident Pat Tantalo chose to say goodbye to the friend he met on the set of the 2006 film "Lonely Hearts." "When Jimmy arrived, he was bigger than life. He shook everyone's hands and made sure he learned everyone's name. We were just finishing a production meeting and we introduced ourselves. We instantly connected. He planted his huge mitts on my shoulders and called me a little bull." When the news broke on Wednesday that "The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini died at 51, tributes poured in around the world, including CNN iReport. "So long, paisan" was how Orlando, Florida, resident Pat Tantalo chose to say goodbye to the friend he met on the set of the 2006 film "Lonely Hearts." "When Jimmy arrived, he was bigger than life. He shook everyone's hands and made sure he learned everyone's name. We were just finishing a production meeting and we introduced ourselves. We instantly connected. He planted his huge mitts on my shoulders and called me a little bull."
'So long, paisan:' Fans mourn Gandolfini
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\'So long, paisan:\' Fans mourn Gandolfini 'So long, paisan:' Fans mourn Gandolfini
Gupta: 51 is young for a heart attack
Actor's body awaiting government action
Remembering a 'Sopranos' icon
Gandolfini: From Broadway to 'Sopranos'

Reactions to his death

On Wednesday, the actor had visited the Vatican and dined at the hotel with his son, the family said in a statement read by Kobold.

After he had returned to his room, Michael Gandolfini alerted hotel staff that his father was not answering his knocks on the bathroom door, said Tiziana Rocca, head of a film festival that the actor was planning to attend.

Hotel staff then broke down the door to get to him and called an ambulance, Rocca said Michael Gandolfini had told her.

The body has been turned over to a funeral director for embalming, Kobold said.

Relatives were seeking to expedite the paperwork needed to repatriate the body on Wednesday or Thursday to New York, where a funeral was planned for Thursday, Friday or Saturday, Kobold said.

'Sopranos' cast mourns Gandolfini

Had he survived

Gandolfini was to have traveled Friday to the Sicilian town of Taormina to receive an award at the Taormina Film Festival, set in the ruins of an ancient Roman arena.

Festival organizers said that, in place of the award ceremony, they would hold a tribute to Gandolfini's lifetime achievements.

CNN's Hada Messia reported from Rome.

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