James Gandolfini's lumbering, brutish mob boss with the tortured psyche will endure as one of TV's indelible characters.
But his portrayal of criminal Tony Soprano in HBO's landmark drama series "The Sopranos" was just one facet of an actor who created a rich legacy of film and stage work in a life cut short.
Gandolfini, 51, who died while vacationing in Rome, refused to be bound by his star-making role in the HBO series that brought him three Emmy Awards during its six-season run and helped change the landscape of television drama.
"He was a genius," said "Sopranos" creator David Chase. "Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes."
Country singer Slim Whitman, the high-pitched yodeler who sold millions of records through ever-present TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and whose song saved the world in the film comedy "Mars Attacks!," has died at a Florida hospital. He was 90.
Whitman's tenor falsetto and ebony mustache and sideburns became global trademarks -- and an inspiration for countless jokes -- thanks to the TV commercials that pitched his records.
But he was a serious musical influence on early rock, and in the British Isles, he was known as a pioneer of country music for popularizing the style there. Whitman also encouraged a teen Elvis Presley when he was the headliner on the bill and the young singer was making his professional debut.
Whitman recorded more than 65 albums and sold millions of records, including 4 million of "All My Best" that was marketed on TV.
Bernard "Bernie" Sahlins, who co-founded Chicago's Second City theater and who nurtured the early careers of many of the earliest stars of "Saturday Night Live," has died. He was 90.
Sahlins and business partners Howard Alk and Paul Sills opened The Second City in December 1959, and it quickly gained national attention and helped establish Chicago as a vibrant comedy town, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The Second City wasn't Sahlins' first attempt at running a theater. He was a producer-investor in a theater troupe in the early 1950s that was comprised of many fellow University of Chicago graduates, and he and several business partners produced plays at the Studebaker Theater from October 1956 until the following year, when it had to close due to a lack of funding.
Mathew L. Gladstein, a Wall Street executive who tapped the expertise of Robert Merton and Myron Scholes -- future Nobel Prize-winners -- in the 1970s to bring options trading to the masses, has died. He was 90.
A Vilas County, Wisconsin deputy says Sheriff Frank Tomlanovich has died at age 61 after a brief illness.
Tomlanovich had been with the sheriff's office since 1979. He was promoted to detective sergeant in 1994 and became sheriff in 2011. Earlier in his career he worked with the Eagle River Police Department.
French designer Jean-Louis Scherrer, who dressed such fashion plates as Jackie Kennedy at the height of his career, has died. He was 78.
Gyula Horn, a former Hungarian prime minister who helped trigger events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall when he symbolically cut the Iron Curtain in 1989, has died. He was 80.
Rabbi Moshe Greenberg, a religious educator who survived a brutal Gulag in Siberia and secretly taught Judaism under an oppressive Soviet regime, has died in Israel. He was 84.
Helen Brush Jenkins, a pioneering photojournalist who made Life magazine when she snapped a photo of her child moments after giving birth, has died. She was 94.
Her daughter, Genji Leclair, said Jenkins died at her home in Chicago, days after suffering a stroke.
Jenkins became a photographer for the now-defunct Daily News in Los Angeles in the 1940s at a time when few women held such jobs.
Over more than a dozen years, she snapped first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman and stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and John Wayne.
Best-selling author Vince Flynn, who wrote the Mitch Rapp counterterrorism thriller series and sold more than 15 million books in the U.S. alone, has died in Minnesota after a more than two-year battle with prostate cancer, according to friends and his publisher. He was 47.
Flynn was supporting himself by bartending when he self-published his first novel, "Term Limits," in 1997 after getting more than 60 rejection letters. After it became a local best-seller, Pocket Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint, signed him to a two-book deal -- and "Term Limits" became a New York Times best-seller in paperback.
The St. Paul-based author also sold millions of books in the international market and averaged about a book a year, most of them focused on Rapp, a CIA counterterrorism operative. His 14th novel, "The Last Man," was published last year.
He counted former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton among his fans, as well as foreign leaders and intelligence community figures.
Kim Thompson -- co-publisher of the influential Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphics Books known for celebrated alternative comics, graphic novels and comic strip anthologies -- has died.
Fantagraphics announced Thompson's death four months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 56.
Fantagraphics has been publishing since 1976, beginning with literary and comics, journalism and essays, and then comics, graphic novels, anthologies and translations of works from other languages. Many of its titles are some of the best known among readers and collectors of graphic novels and books, with works like "Love and Rockets" by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez; Daniel Clowes' "Ghost World" and the "Acme Novelty Library."
Former New York Giants punter and radio analyst Dave Jennings has died. He was 61.
The most prolific punter in Giants history, Jennings had battled Parkinson's disease, a chronic degenerative neurological disorder, since 1996.
Jennings played for the Giants from 1974-84. He holds the franchise records for punts (931 -- 405 more than second-place Sean Landeta) and yards (38,792). Jennings was selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 1978, `79, `80 and `82. He punted a career-high 104 times in 1979, which was the Giants record until Brad Maynard had 111 punts in 1997.
Michael Hastings, the war correspondent whose unflinching reporting from Afghanistan led to the resignation of a top U.S. army general, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, according to his employer and family.
Hastings, who was 33, was described by many of his colleagues as an unfailingly bright and hard-charging reporter who wrote stories that mattered. Most recently, he wrote about politics for the news website BuzzFeed.
Hastings won a 2010 George Polk Award for magazine reporting for his Rolling Stone cover story "The Runaway General."
His story was credited with ending Gen. Stanley McChrystal's career after it revealed the military's candid criticisms of the Obama administration.
Julio Chavez, a defender and captain of Chivas USA's Under-18 team, has died in an auto accident. He was 19.
Thomas Evans, a lawyer who formed part of the team that organized Richard Nixon's successful presidential campaigns in 1968 and 1972 and who later wrote an insightful book about the ideological transformation of Ronald Reagan, died June 11 at his home in Bay Harbor Islands, Fla. He was 82.
The endangered Lakota language has lost one of its greatest supporters.
Albert White Hat, who was instrumental in teaching and preserving the American Indian language and translated the Hollywood movie "Dances with Wolves" into Lakota for its actors, died last week surrounded by loved ones at a South Dakota hospital. The 74-year-old had prostate cancer and other health issues, according to family and friends.
Physicist Kenneth Wilson, who earned a Nobel prize for pioneering work that changed the way physicists think about phase transitions, has died in Maine, where he retired to enjoy kayaking with his wife. He was 77.
Wilson was in the physics department at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., when he won the Nobel Prize in 1982 for applying his research in quantum physics to phase transitions, the transformation that occurs when a substance goes from, say, liquid to gas. Wilson created a mathematical tool called the renormalization group that is still widely used in physics.
Jim Holshouser, who was North Carolina's first Republican governor elected in the 20th century, has died. He was 78.
Holshouser was a state legislator who became North Carolina's youngest governor at age 38 when he was swept into office by President Richard Nixon's 1972 electoral landslide. He served a single term.
Bob Meistrell, who co-founded the Body Glove clothing company and helped develop the first neoprene wetsuit, has died in Southern California. He was 84.
Yoram Kaniuk, a prominent Israeli writer whose dozens of novels resonated with themes of Jewish survival, Israel's war of independence and his conflicted relationship with his homeland, died June 8 at a hospital in Tel Aviv. He was 83.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.