The actor’s last meal was heavy with fried food, piña coladas, and beer
Getty Images/Ilya S. Savenok
James Gandolfini, the actor who played Tony Soprano on the HBO hit show “Sopranos,” died of a heart attack on Wednesday in Rome — following what seems to be a dinner of heavy, fried food.
According to the New York Post, Gandolfini had gone out to dinner with his 13-year-old son Michael that evening. At the restaurant, he allegedly dined on “back-to-back orders or fried prawns slathered with mayonnaise chili sauce — as well as a heaping portion of foie gras.”
There have also been questions regarding Gandolfini’s historic struggles with alcohol and cocaine, and had been seen previously. The Post also reported that the actor ordered at least eight alcoholic drinks, including two piña coladas, four shots of rum, and a couple of beers.
The actor had previously attended a number of sessions of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York City’s West Village, but the Post quoted a source as saying that they “didn’t think that he was serious about getting sober.”
But as Fox News reported, family friend Michael Kobold, who dined with Gandolfini and his son, denied the Post’s claim that Gandolfini had had so much to drink — especially the piña coladas, which were “not his drink of choice.” Kobold also cited the autopsy, which revealed that Gandolfini had died of natural causes and without any drugs in his system.
James Gandolfini's Last Meal
The customary concept of the Mediterranean diet being light and healthy, full of glistening fresh tomatoes, figs and olive oil, is not baseless, but Roman cooking is not for the faint-hearted. Based on necessity, its purpose was satisfying the needs of the city&rsquos workers as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Heavy and oily, Roman dishes are served abbondante (in abundance). This is cucina povera (poor food), and its mainstays are pasta and soups with chickpeas, potatoes, beans, broccoli, with feast days traditionally seeing lamb and goat arrive on tables. Rome is the ravenous belly of central Italy, satiated by the surrounding areas: olive oil from Lazio, pigs from nearby Umbria.
The industrialization of the Ostiense district of Rome saw a huge slaughterhouse built in 1890, where workers were part-paid with the &ldquofifth-quarter&rdquo (quinto quarto): that which remained after the front and hindquarters had been sold. We&rsquore talking about tripe, kidneys, hearts, spleen, brain, lungs, tongue, head, trotters, tails and so on. It didn&rsquot leave much for the dog. Hard work in the winter, and don&rsquot even think about it when the temperature rises.
Like Gandolfini, each of us plumped for the &ldquosummer option,&rdquo the frittura: those deadly, cholesterol-filled prawns and squid dipped in batter, deep fried in fresh oil, and garnished salt and lemon juice. It&rsquos light and airy in appearance, with a crisp batter thin enough to give the prawn the vague hope of a breakout. But even cooked in the freshest of oil that produces the lightest of straw-colored crusts, it&rsquos a heavyweight.
Toward the end of our meal, thoughts turned to a dessert that nobody could realistically contemplate. But there&rsquos always room for a digestivo, the classic being a shot of grappa: distilled grape skins that taste like perfumed diesel. I&rsquom still waiting to grow into it, so I lean toward amaro, an herbal liqueur resembling a more palatable alcoholic cough mixture, like supercharged Benylin. But that night we ambled towards the Rummeria for a couple of rounds of what I recall was a Captain Morgan Gran Reserva. Things were getting a bit foggy and the mouth sticky. A couple of artisanal beers solved the problem and sealed the evening. Cabs were hailed.
Nights like this aren&rsquot a regular event, but it was nothing too out of the ordinary. The popular idea of Romans sliding down a single glass of vino with a meal, apparently for little more than medicinal and cultural purposes, is all part of the Mediterranean myth. Sure, some do it, but there are Romans who don&rsquot mess about either. So, while my doubts remain about those pina coladas, if Gandolfini was getting in touch with his roots, I&rsquod say he was on the right track.
The shock at his level of consumption and the &ldquohe deserved it&rdquo &ldquostatements&rdquo that flashed noisily between the lines were wide off the mark. Who&rsquos not had a blowout on holiday? Plus, when in Rome, and all that.
Besides, it was hardly a Neapolitan wedding or a Florentine stag dinner, but those are stories in their own right.
Then again, I can&rsquot deny that the normal, occasional intercostal muscle spasm hasn&rsquot concerned me a tad more than usual of late. I&rsquom back on the salads and I never touch pina coladas. I&rsquove heard they&rsquore bad for your health.
James Gandolfini's Last Meal: 2 Orders of Fried Prawns, Foie Gras, 8 Drinks
“Sopranos” star James Gandolfini sat down to a giant dinner, including at least eight alcoholic beverages, before suffering a heart attack, reports the New York Post.
The boozy repast in Rome reportedly included four shots of rum, two piña coladas and two beers, along with back-to-back orders of fried king prawns slathered in a mayonnaise chili sauce, and a “large portion” of foie gras, a source told the paper.
Gandolfini did not share his meal with son Michael, 13, who had his own dinner and two virgin piña coladas.
The insider commented, “Everything [Gandolfini] ordered was fried. Obviously, that's going to cause problems with your heart.”
The Post claims that the actor had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in the West Village prior to his death, with a source saying, “I can confirm he has been known to blow lines and drink like an Irish sailor on weekend leave.”
Gandolfini's addictions first came to light during his 2002 divorce from first wife Marcy Wudarski. She accused him of going on benders, having kinky sex with other women and doing cocaine with his “Sopranos” castmates. He claimed she was mentally unstable.
At a news conference on Friday, spokesman for the family, Michael Kobold, explained the autopsy results, saying that the 51-year-old “died of a heart attack of natural causes” and “nothing else was found in his system.”
"James came here on vacation with family," Kobold said. "On Wednesday he went to visit the Vatican, and had dinner at the hotel with his son while waiting for his sister . All are devastated for his loss. He was a loving father."
He added that the family hopes that Rome officials can release the actor's body soon, so they can hold a funeral in New York City next week.
According to NBC News, Michael found his father on the bathroom floor of their room at Hotel Boscolo on Wednesday night. The star was alive but in distress as Michael called for help. Employees tried to revive the actor as they waited for emergency services to arrive.
Gandolfini was reportedly alive as he was rushed to the Policlinico Umberto I hospital just three minutes away, where they were unable to revive him.
UPDATE: The Daily Mail reports that Gandolfini's relatives "categorically denied" reports that Gandolfini had enjoyed rich food and drink the night he died. Family friend Michael Kobold said in a press conference, "It's nonsense. There was nothing out of the ordinary [in the autopsy report]. No substance abuse, none of that. Jim was happy, he was healthy, he was doing really fine."
James Gandolfini may have had prawns, foie gras the night he died so?
An autopsy has confirmed that “The Sopranos” actor James Gandolfini died of natural causes from a heart attack Wednesday in Italy. Meanwhile, a newspaper report took aim at what the actor may have had to eat and drink at dinner the night he died -- emphasizing overindulgence -- but does it really matter?
According to the New York Post, which cited an unidentified source at the Boscolo Exedra Roma, Gandolfini had four shots of rum, two piña coladas and two beers while dining at the hotel with his son the night he died.
The source is also claiming that Gandolfini ate two orders of fried king prawns and a “large portion” of foie gras.
At a news conference Friday morning, family friend Michael Kobold stated that there were no drugs or alcohol found in Gandolfini’s system in the autopsy.
Kobold also denied much of the New York Post report. As for the drinks, he said, “the piña coladas were virgin piña coladas they were drunk by his son. So you guys know Jim, it’s not his drink of choice. He doesn’t drink piña coladas in 40 degree [Celsius] heat.”
Regardless of Gandolfini’s actual last meal or his supposed reluctance to drink a piña colada in hot weather, we hope he enjoyed his food and drink. If it was fried prawns and foie gras, sounds like a darn good way to go.
James Gandolfini dead at 51: One of the last pictures of actor shows him looking healthy
The last photos taken of James Gandolfini show "The Sopranos" star dining in Rome, apparently relaxed and enjoying the company of others at an al fresco table.
The pictures were taken Tuesday night in the heart of the Eternal City. Less than 24 hours later, Gandolfini was dead.
In one photo, snapped by an American tourist sitting at a nearby table, the 51-year-old Gandolfini is dressed in a casual dark blue shirt, enjoying an evening meal at the Sabatini restaurant off Rome's Piazza Santa Maria.
He appears to be eating a plate of the restaurant's freshly made gnocchi as tourists stroll the piazza admiring a historic fountain.
Just five days earlier, a seemingly healthy and happy Gandolfini spoke excitedly about his upcoming father-son Italian vacation.
The Emmy-winning actor known worldwide for his role as Tony Soprano was stoked last Friday at an eighth-grade graduation party for his 13-year-old son, Michael, said family friend Carole Marini.
Gandolfini "was amazing as usual," Marini told the Daily News. "He seemed very healthy to me — walking around, laughing, smiling, showing his little baby girl to everybody.
"There was no sign of trouble," added Marini, wife of "Dancing With the Stars" veteran Gilles Marini. "For us, it was a shock."
After Gandolfini's son found his dad in their room, doctors waged a desperate 40-minute battle to revive the hulking star before declaring him dead.
The extraordinary Wednesday night effort by medical teams in the ambulance and emergency room included heart massage — but they couldn't save Gandolfini's life.
"The patient was considered dead on arrival," said Dr. Claudio Modini, the emergency room chief.
An autopsy was planned to determine if the 260-pound actor's bulk or hard-partying past played any role in his sudden demise, as members of his HBO family continued to lavish praise on his life and work.
Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano's suburban housewife, Carmela, said the Garden State gang couple was the Romeo and Juliet of organized crime.
"The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I've ever known," she said in a statement.
"My heart goes out to his family, as those of us in his pretend one hold on to the memories of our intense and beautiful time together."
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played daughter Meadow Soprano, sent her best wishes to Gandolfini's widow and two kids.
"This news has left me heartbroken," she said. "I spent 10 years of my life studying and admiring one of the most brilliant actors, yes, but more importantly one of the greatest men.
"I treasure my memories with him and feel so honored that I was an up-close witness to his greatness."
Bruce Springsteen, whose E Street Band includes Gandolfini's TV consigliere Steven Van Zandt, played his classic "Born to Run" album in its entirety in the late actor's memory at a show in Coventry, England.
Dominic Chianese, who played Uncle Junior Soprano, said news of Gandolfini's death left him in tears.
"I cried because he was just a sweetheart," the 82-year-old Chianese told The News. "He was a kind, compassionate and just a lovely, lovely man."
Chianese said that as an actor, Gandolfini was one of the best he's ever worked with.
"I've been an actor for 60 years, and this guy always inspired me to do the best work I could do," he said.
"Jimmy was an incredible actor to work with. He was easy. It was like watching a river flow."
In Rome, a family friend provided more details about the shocking death that rocked fans from Mahwah to Milan.
Gandolfini apparently suffered a heart attack.
There was no immediate word on plans for a wake or funeral, and U.S. Embassy officials said it could take up to a week for the return of his body to the United States.
Gandolfini, the son of Italian immigrants, was in Rome on a working vacation. He was scheduled to be at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily, where he was to receive a special prize and appear at the closing ceremony with Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei.
A special tribute is now planned instead to honor Gandolfini, according to festival organizers.
"I felt like somebody kicked me in the stomach," said Katherine Narducci, who played Charmaine Bucco on the HBO hit series.
"I can tell you he was the most generous person in the world . . . I can't believe that he's gone."
Narducci said she last saw Gandolfini at Madison Square Garden for a concert to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Gandolfini left behind his wife, Deborah, and two kids, Michael and infant daughter Liliana.
"He was such a beautiful father," said Narducci.
"He loved his kids so much — it was obvious . . . He was just a really loving, loving, loving wonderful guy."
Patricia Arquette, who starred opposite Gandolfini in the 1993 film "True Romance," heaped similar praise on the lost star.
"My heart goes out to his family," she said.
"James was incredibly talented and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to work with him . . . His work as Tony Soprano was flawless."
Gandolfini's Tribeca neighbors recalled him as a regular guy who was quick with a hand or a hello.
"He did a lot of great things for a lot of people," said Michael Collarone, owner of a local restaurant where Gandolfini often ate breakfast.
James Gandolfini's 'fried food feast before heart attack added up to 2,730 calories'
James Gandolfini wolfed down a large fried meal washed down with at least eight alcoholic drinks just hours before he had a fatal heart attack.
The Sopranos actor, 51, reportedly struggled with booze addiction in his final weeks and attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in New York before his holiday in Rome.
For his last meal with son Michael he ordered back-to-back portions of fried prawns with mayonnaise chilli sauce and a large portion of foie gras.
He also downed two rounds of pina colada, each with two rum chasers on the side, followed by two beers.
Gandolfini ate the lot while Michael, 13, made a separate order.
A source at the Boscolo Exedra Roma hotel’s outdoor restaurant said nearly “everything ordered was fried – obviously that’s going to cause problems with your heart”.
Michael found his father collapsed in their hotel room three hours after the meal on Wednesday night.
Six men carried the bare-chested star, who was wrapped in a blanket, out of the room.
Paramedics tried to revive him in the ambulance on the way to Umberto I hospital.
Bosses said doctors fought to save him for 40 minutes before pronouncing him dead.
Registered nutritionist Dr Carina Norris said: "It’s a cliché, but regularly eating this kind of meal is what people would call a recipe for a heart attack.
"It adds up to around 2,730 calories, just for one meal. The average amount needed for a man would be around 2,500 for the whole day.
"Too many calories means putting on weight – a known risk factor for heart problems. Perhaps more important in terms of heart health is the meal’s fat content.
"It contains nearly double a man’s daily recommended maximum for fat and also of saturated fat, the kind associated with clogged arteries.
"The foie gras alone would give you more saturated fat than a man should have in a day and that is before considering the cream in the pina colada.
"Those drinks also contain roughly 11 units of alcohol, nearly three times the safe limit of 3-4 for a man. This is definitely binge drinking.
"Plus the drinks also contributed nearly half (around 1,220 calories) of the meal’s total."
Gandolfini’s family are hoping to bury him in New York next week.
Friend Michael Kobold, speaking in Rome, said the father-of-two died after “a wonderful day” in the city.
He said: “He visited the Vatican and had dinner at the hotel with his son.
“He was on vacation with his son. Everything was going really great. I just spoke to him on Father’s Day.
"He was fine, he was happy. He was a good guy.”
Mr Kobold said the Emmy award-winning actor’s body would be embalmed before its return to the US.
It usually takes up to 10 days to return a body but the family are working with Italian authorities to speed up the process.
Sister Leta Gandolfini visited her brother at the hospital mortuary.
Mr Kobold continued: “We are all devastated by this loss.
"James was a devoted husband, a loving father of two children and a brother and cousin you could always count on.”
Gandolfini’s first wife and Michael’s mum, Marcy Wudarski, has flown to Italy.
News of Gandolfini’s addictions first surfaced during their 2002 divorce.
Wudarksi claimed Gandolfini did cocaine, went on benders and had sex with other women.
He filed a countersuit which claimed she was mentally unstable.
Mr Kobold said the postmortem showed “nothing out of the ordinary, there was no foul play”.
The New York Post is reporting that Gandolfini's dinner before he died was, indeed, worthy of the title "last meal."
The unnamed source said that the Tony nominee and Emmy-award-winning thespian "first ordered a pina colada with two additional shots of rum on the side. He followed that up with an identical round -- a pina colada and two shots -- and then downed two beers."
The Post reports that Gandolfini ordered two servings of fried prawns with mayonnaise chili sauce and a portion of foie gras, downing the entire meal himself. His 13-year-old son, Michael, was said to have ordered two virgin coladas with his meal.
Nearly "everything [Gandolfini] ordered was fried. Obviously, that's going to cause problems with your heart," the source noted.
Although Gandolfini has had a history of problems with drug and alcohol abuse, in today's news conference, Kobold said the initial autopsy reports ruled out "evidence of drug use, alcohol abuse, or foul play."
The last photos of James Gandolfini taken just hours before his sudden death have surfaced. He&rsquos eating dinner at the Sabatini restaurant in Rome. A tourist from Atlanta took the photos.
Gandolfini was dining with his 13-year-old son, Michael.
An autopsy on Friday confirms that the Sopranos star died of a heart attack.
Family friend Michael Kobold said, "He died of heart attack of natural causes. The autopsy further states that nothing else was found in his system."
In was being reported that the actor binged on a decadent meal on the night he died. Friday's New York Post headline blared &ldquoThe Last Supper."
The meal reportedly consisted of two orders of fried king prawns covered in mayonnaise and chili sauce, and, foie gras. He supposedly washed it all down with four shots of rum, two pina coladas, and two beers.
Kobald said, &ldquoExcept for the foie gras, looking at what was listed, all of that stuff is something I had with the family yesterday and the pina coladas were virgin pina coladas. They were drunk by his son. You guys know Jim, it's not his drink of choice. He doesn't drink pina coladas.&rdquo
Actor Joseph Gannascoli, who played gay mobster Vito Spatafore on The Sopranos, is very upset at the stories that Gandolfini overindulged.
"Guy was enjoying dinner with his family. To even come out with that story and to insinuate is beyond tasteless," Gannascoli said.
Gandolfini's heartbroken sister Leta was seen at the morgue in Rome where she formally identified her brother's body.
And the tributes keep pouring in. New Jersey rocker, Bruce Springsteen dedicated his performance in England to his good friend, Gandolfini.
James Gandolfini’s last supper
JAMES Gandolfini stands in a beautiful square in Rome – less than 24 hours
before he suffered a fatal heart attack in his hotel bathroom.
In what may be the last set of photos of him alive, the Sopranos star is seen
dining al fresco in the Italian capital on Tuesday night as he “reconnected
with his Italian roots”.
One snap shows the 51-year-old actor dressed in a casual dark blue shirt,
enjoying an evening meal with his 13-year-old son Michael.
Another photo – snapped by an American tourist – shows him tucking into a
plate of freshly-made gnocchi.
Behind him, tourists stroll around the square admiring a historic fountain,
seemingly oblivious to the Emmy-winning actor nearby, known worldwide for
his role as Tony Soprano.
Onlooker Dee Duncan, who spotted the star eating on the next table down at the
Sabatini restaurant, said he looked as if he was enjoying the Piazza Santa
Maria’s “magical atmosphere” as jugglers and magicians performed nearby.
But the following evening, Gandolfini’s son found him in their room at the
five-star Boscola Exedra Hotel having suffered a massive cardiac arrest.
He was taken by ambulance to Policlinico Umberto I hospital where he was
pronounced dead on arrival. The autopsy is expected to be carried out today.
The Sopranos star was on vacation in Rome with son Michael, wife Deborah and
their nine-month-old daughter Liliana.
He was there to “reconnect with his Italian roots” before the Taormina Film
Festival in Sicily, according to festival director Mario Sesti.
Just last week, a seemingly healthy and happy Gandolfini attended an
eighth-grade graduation party for his son Michael where he spoke excitedly
about their upcoming Italian vacation.
Carole Marini said the actor was “amazing as usual”, adding: “He seemed very
healthy to me — walking around, laughing, smiling, showing his little baby
girl to everybody.
“There was no sign of trouble. For us, it was a shock.”
Gandolfini’s Sopranos colleagues led the tributes yesterday, with the show’s
creator David Chase comparing him to Mozart and hailing him as “one of the
greatest actors of this or any time”.