James Gandolfini's funeral to take place next week, autopsy confirms he died from heart attack

A friend of The Sopranos actor denied Gandolfini had consumed a number of alcoholic drinks prior to his death, as has been reported in the US

Hospital staff have confirmed that The Sopranos star James Gandolfini, who passed away suddenly on Wednesday at the age of 51, died of a heart attack.

A post-mortem has confirmed he died from natural causes with no evidence of substance abuse or foul play.

His friend Michael Kobold confirmed the autopsy results and said the actor's funeral will be held on Thursday, Friday or Saturday next week depending on when his body can be returned to the US.

''There's nothing out of the ordinary. It was a heart attack. It was a natural cause," Mr Kobold told reporters. "There was no foul play, no substance abuse. None of that.

"The autopsy further states that nothing else was found in his system," he said.

"We are all devastated by this loss. James was a devoted husband, loving father of two children and a brother and cousin you can always count on."

Mr Kobold said Gandolfini had had "a wonderful day" visiting the Vatican and having dinner with his son.

He denied a report in the American media that Gandolfini had battled with drugs and alcohol and consumed a number of drinks, including pina coladas, on the day he died.

"It's nonsense," Mr Kobold said, adding that Gandolfini would not choose to drink pina coladas.

The actor was found collapsed in the bathroom of a Rome hotel room, where he was on holiday, before being taken to Policlinico Umberto I hospital.

A hospital spokesperson told Reuters that attempts to resuscitate Gandolfini in the ambulance and then at the clinic failed, and that the actor was considered dead on arrival.

"The resuscitation manoeuvres, including heart massage, continued for 40 minutes and then, seeing no electric activity from the heart, this was interrupted and we declared James dead," Dr Claudio Modini said.

Post-mortems are conducted 24 hours after a body’s arrival in the morgue in accordance with Italian law.

Gandolfini is survived by his wife Deborah Lin, whom he married in 2008, and their baby daughter Liliana, who was born in October.

He also has a teenage son, Michael, from his first marriage to Marcy Wudarksi.

The actor had been due to make a return to HBO, which made The Sopranos, in a new crime series called Criminal Justice.

The network had ordered seven hour-long episodes of the drama which was to feature Gandolfini as a down on his luck attorney called Jack Stone.

Yesterday Hollywood and TV luminaries took the opportunity to pay tribute to their friend and colleague.

Susan Sarandon, who worked with Gandolfini on Romance & Cigarettes in 2005, called him “one of the sweetest, funniest, most generous actors I’ve ever worked with”.

His God of Carnage co-star Jeff Daniels called him “a great friend” while Steve Carell expressed shock at the “unbelievably sad news” and paid tribute to “a fine man”.

Bette Midler, who co-starred with Gandolfini in the film thought to have paved the way for his turn as Tony Soprano, Get Shorty (1995) also took to Twitter to pay tribute to a “great” actor.

Musician Steven van Zandt, who played Tony Soprano’s right hand man Silvio Dante, wrote that the world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time and that he himself had lost “a brother and a best friend”.

Mia Farrow lamented the “awful news” about such a “great actor”, while Lindsay Lohan, who is currently in rehab, expressed her condolences via “team Lohan” with the words: “James Gandolfini was a dear friend and a great man. My heart goes out to his family. He will be greatly missed.”

Gandolfini’s In The Loop co-star Chris Addison called him “A colossus in all respects. He could do it all but I loved his gift for comedy. RIP General Miller.”

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