The Actor Died Wednesday While Vacationing In Italy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Actor James Gandolfini’s body was returned to the U.S. from Italy Sunday.

Gandolfini’s body departed Rome earlier Sunday, in a Signature Airlines plane that landed at Newark Liberty International Airport around 9 p.m., 1010 WINS reported.

The Italian news agency ANSA said the private plane took off at 6 p.m. local time Sunday.

Funeral arrangements for Gandolfini also have been announced. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, at 1047 Amsterdam Ave. in Morningside Heights.

Gandolfini died of a heart attack at the age of 51 on Wednesday while on vacation with his family in Rome.

Earlier Sunday, family spokesman Michael Kobold thanked officials in both countries for speeding the process of returning Gandolfini’s boday.

“On behalf of the Gandolfini family, I would like to thank the Italian authorities for all the assistance they have rendered in expediting the formalities necessary to repatriate James Gandolfini’s remains to the United States. We are fully aware that this process usually takes 7 days and we are extremely grateful for their efficiency in dealing with this matter. It has been our privilege to be guests in your beautiful country, despite the difficult circumstances. We sincerely thank you,” the statement read in part.

According to the family, the State Department was instrumental in helping coordinate the repatriation. Kobold also thanked for President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their efforts to expedite the repatriation process.

PHOTOS: Remembering James Gandolfini

Gov. Chris Christie has ordered flags to fly at half-staff Monday in honor of the star.

News of the actor’s untimely death led to an outpouring of condolences from fellow actors and fans alike. Memorials and tributes to Gandolfini sprung up across New Jersey spots made famous by the iconic HBO show and in Manhattan’s Little Italy.

Gandolfini was a New Jersey native and Rutgers graduate. He is best known for his role as mobster Tony Soprano on the long-running HBO series.

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

Gandolfini and his wife, Deborah, who were married in 2008, have a daughter, Liliana, born last year, HBO said. The actor and his former wife, Marcy, have a teenage son, Michael.

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