James Gandolfini: Wellington man was stunt double for actor James Gandolfini

'Sopranos' actor found dead in Rome

WELLINGTON, Fla. - Final arrangements still being made for actor James Gandolfini, but those close to Gandolfini say the funeral could take place sometime next week.

On Friday, an autopsy showed that actor died of a heart attack while in Rome vacationing with his son. A family friend also revealed nothing else was found in his system.

A Wellington man who walked in the actor's footsteps is offering a unique perspective of one who became a mirror image for the larger than life persona of Gandolfini.

The wall of Frank Ferrara's home shows a snapshot of Hollywood history. "I'm going to miss him," said Ferarra. "He was a good man, a good friend."

As a professional stunt double, Ferrara has repelled from helicopters, been struck by cars, even been set on fire. He has mirrored the best in the business, including the leading man of the hit show The Sopranos.

"In all my 35 years as a stuntman, I have never met an actor with more heart and more compassion than Jimmy Gandolfini," said Ferrara.

James Gandolfini was found dead in Rome on Wednesday. Ferrara connected with Gandolfini just a few days before the death.

"He texted me on Father's Day and he said 'Happy Father's Day you old fart," said Ferrara.

From the first episode of The Sopranos to the last, these two men together crafted the character of mobster Tony Soprano.

Ferrara stepped in for Gandolfini for the scenes that pushed 'Tony' to the physical limit. "You watch how he walks," said Ferrara. "You watch how he talks. You watch his mannerisms."

With Gandolfini gone, memories of a humble and happy life remain. "Being in my business is so plastic and phony and you get tired of all the egos but he didn't have one," said Ferrara.

Ferrara will travel north in the next few days to attend Gandolfini's funeral.

Gandolfini was 51 years old.
 

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