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Article updated: 6/21/2013 10:24 AM

Friend: James Gandolfini died of heart attack

James Gandolfini died Wednesday, June 19, 2013 in Italy. He was 51.

James Gandolfini died Wednesday, June 19, 2013 in Italy. He was 51.

 

Associated Press

Michael Kobold, a family friend of actor James Gandolfini, meets the media at the Exedra Hotel in Rome, Friday, June 21, 2013. Kobold said an autopsy confirmed the actor died of a heart attack and that there was no evidence of foul play or substance abuse. He said the body of the actor has been turned over to a funeral director and that the family is working to get through the red tape to get the body back to the United States. Gandolfini died Wednesday night after being discovered in a Rome hotel room by a family member.

Michael Kobold, a family friend of actor James Gandolfini, meets the media at the Exedra Hotel in Rome, Friday, June 21, 2013. Kobold said an autopsy confirmed the actor died of a heart attack and that there was no evidence of foul play or substance abuse. He said the body of the actor has been turned over to a funeral director and that the family is working to get through the red tape to get the body back to the United States. Gandolfini died Wednesday night after being discovered in a Rome hotel room by a family member.

 

Associated Press

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By Associated Press

ROME -- An autopsy on James Gandolfini confirmed the "Sopranos" star died of a heart attack, with no evidence of substance abuse or foul play, a family friend said Friday.

Michael Kobold told reporters that Gandolfini's body has been released to a funeral director and that the family was working with the Italian government to speed up the bureaucratic red tape to get the body back to the United States soon. While the process can take up to 10 days, Kobold said the family was hoping to have the body repatriated by midweek with a funeral planned in New York by Saturday at the latest.

Gandolfini, 51, died Wednesday night after being discovered in a Rome hotel room by a family member.

He had arrived in Rome on Tuesday and spent his first full day in the Eternal City with his son visiting the Vatican and dining in the hotel, the luxury Boscolo Exedra.

"He had a wonderful day," Kobold said of the father-son vacation.

Asked if Gandolfini had a history of heart problems, Kobold said he was healthy.

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

Morgue officials at Rome's Policlinico Umberto I hospital said the U.S. Embassy had told them not to speak to the media, and that a family representative would provide the results of the autopsy. Gandolfini's sister, Leta, went to the morgue on Friday to formally identify the body.

Gandolfini was to have helped preside over the closing ceremony on Saturday of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. The festival instead is organizing a tribute to him.

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