On Wednesday (June 19) the world was shocked by the news of actor James Gandolfini’s passing at 51 from a heart attack.

David Chase, creator of HBO’s The Sopranos — which starred Gandolfini in his defining role as Tony Soprano — issued a statement, saying:  “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. For (his wife) Deborah and (son) Michael and (daughter) Lilliana this is crushing. And it’s bad for the rest of the world. He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”

Steven Van Zandt, who played Tony Sopranos’ consigliere Silvio Dante posted a statement to his official Underground Garage Facebook page: “I have lost a brother and a best friend. The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time. Maureen and I send our deepest sympathy and love to Deborah, Michael, Lily, and all of Jimmy’s family.”

Maureen Van Zandt, Steven’s wife, played his on-screen Sopranos wife Gabriella. She tweeted, “I loved James so much. He was a beautiful man and a genius. I was honored to breathe the same air as him. I’ll love and remember him forever.”

Steven Van Zandt, David Chase and James Gandolfini recently worked together on the film Not Fade Away, which Chase directed, Gandolfini co-starred in and Van Zandt served as Musical Supervisor.

Read more about Gandolfini at CBS New York.

Brian Ives, Radio.com


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