James Gandolfini, the acclaimed actor who died in Italy at the age of 51 of an apparent heart attack, has become a social-media icon.
Gandolfini, who brilliantly portrayed mob boss Tony Soprano on HBO's long-running series The Sopranos, received wide praise from his fellow actors and actresses and the fans across Facebook and Twitter.
The people who knew him best and the public that adored him as Tony Sprano hailed Gandolfini for his vivid acting, generosity of spirit and kindness to war veterans.
It was stunning to see the outpouring of unabashed affection for an actor who had been best known for the role of a maniacal Mafia leader.
But people stressed that the Jim Gandolfini that they had come to know was a warm, introspective, thoughtful actor and friend who remained devoted to his craft.
Interestingly, Gandolfini didn't let the notoriety of The Sopranos, which many have praised as the best dramatic series in television history, get to him. He remained humble, they emphasized.
Additionally, Gandolfini suspected that the popularity of Tony Soprano also may have been a detriment to him at times. If he pursued a part as someone who appeared to be the polar opposite of Tony, Gandolfini might have been dismissed on the basis that fans and critics wouldn't, or couldn't, accept him as anyone but a Mafioso.
Gandolfini was in the hearts of his friends and his public at the very end.
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