The news that Sopranos star James Gandolfini had died of a heart attack aged 51 seemed to transcend the usual reaction to a celebrity death. There were no quick jokes, just heartfelt tributes, none more so than from those who knew the Jersey-born actor.

Edie Falco, who shared one of the most famous, devastating and believable on-screen partnerships in TV history, issued a statement. “The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known,” she said. “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.” Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played Tony’s daughter Meadow sent her best wished. “This news has left me heartbroken,” she said. “I spent 10 years of my life studying and admiring one of the most brilliant actors, yes, but importantly one of the greatest men. I treasure my memories with him and feel so honored that I was an up-close witness to his greatness.”

Gandolfini died in Italy, while on holiday with his family and family friend Carole Marini. “There was no sign of trouble,” said Marini, wife of “Dancing with the Stars” veteran Gilles Marini. “For us, it was a shock.” His heart attack was followed by a desperate 40-minute survival effot, alas, to no avail. “The patient was considered dead on arrival,” said Dr. Claudio Modini, the emergency room chief. Sky Atlantic will be showing four classic Sopranos episodes tomorrow (Friday, June 21) in honour of the great actor.

James GandolfiniJames Gandolfini will be sorely missed

Edie Falco
Edie Falco was brilliant opposite Gandolfini in The Sopranos