James Gandolfini, who played one of television's most memorable characters, has died in Rome, Italy after suffering a heart attack. Home Box Office officials confirmed that Gandolfini, who played gangster Tony Soprano on HBO's classic crime drama The Sopranos, died from a heart attack while vacationing before attending a film festival in Italy. He was 51. The New Jersey born actor was to attend the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily this weekend.

HBO issued a statement confirming his death to Variety. David Chase, the creator of the Sopranos released the following, moving statement about his friend's death:

"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. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, 'You don't get it. You're like Mozart.' There would be silence at the other end of the phone."