By now you have probably heard the news that James Gandolfini has died.  He was best known for his portrayal of a mob boss in the HBO smasher "The Sopranos".

The actor was vacationing in Italy at the time, a destination he visited frequently.  He was scheduled to appear in Sicily this week at the Taormina Film Festival.  An autopsy is pending, but several reports are leaning towards a heart attack.

Tony Soprano was a breakthrough role for Gandolfini, which enjoyed an eight year run ending in 2007, and earned him three Emmy Awards.

He was a late bloomer in the acting cycle, for his first assignment was a Broadway retooling of "A Streetcar Named Desire", when Gandolfini was already 31 years old.  Some say that if it wasn't for a friend taking him to an acting class, and then being bitten by the bug, he would still be employed as a bouncer.

The following year, 1993, saw Gandolfini making his film debut in the movie "True Romance".  He has also made appearances in "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3", and "Zero Dark Thirty".

Here's a classic Soprano clip, with some of the best eight second dialogue to ever be broadcast:

James Gandolfini was only 51 years old.