Hollywood seems to be in a state of shock tonight over the death of James Gandolfini. In case you haven’t already heard, the 51-year old actor suffered a major and fatal heart attack in Italy June 19th. James was best known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano in the seminal HBO hit series The Sopranos. Fellow actors seemed to really respect Gandolfini’s approach to the roles that he took on and his fans loved the fact that fame came to him later in his career, proving that hard work can really pay off even – in middle age.
What a lot of people seemed to turn a blind eye to was the fact that Gandolfini had a series of very serious drug problems throughout his career. Back in 2002 during a messy divorce from first wife Marcy Wudarski we first heard rumblings of what the actor’s private life was really like. I’m talking about cocaine being his drug of choice, trips to rehab, and the man was accused by Marcy of being pretty damn kinky and hiring prostitutes and strippers to satisfy his drug fueled cravings.
Prolonged cocaine use leads to all sorts of cardiovascular issues including blockages and damage to the arteries. Obviously a major heart attack can be the end game result especially for those with other risk factors – like being obese, out of shape, and a big drinker – all factors affecting Gandolfini. I’m not sure whether or not Gandolfini was clean at this time. He has been rumored to have had some serious slips over the years and I’m sure an autopsy and toxicology report will be telling – if one is performed and the results released.
I do think that Gandolfini using cocaine over the years greatly contributed to his death now – and almost certainly accelerated the cardiovascular disease which killed him. He set himself up for all sorts of heart problems that may not have been present if not for the coke use. Chronic cocaine abuse often leads to premature sudden death – this is a medical fact. Whitney Houston’s sudden death was a sad but perfect example of what long-term cocaine abusers can expect. Any hopes for a Sopranos film have pretty much died with Gandolfini.
Will you miss Tony Soprano? I know I do already. People use drugs and alcohol thinking they are immune from the consequences, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me.’ Well it does happen ‘to you’ and if you abuse substances then expect serious health problems down the road – and not always too far down the road. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!