"And to my family, thank you very much for everything. To my wife Marcy and my son Michael, without you, I'm just a fool." With those words, James Gandolfini accepted the first of his eventual three Emmys in 2000 for the second season of the groundbreaking HBO crime drama "The Sopranos."
Gandolfini died on June 19 from a heart attack at age 51 while visiting Rome with Michael. He is survived by his son, second wife Deborah Lin and their infant daughter Liliana.
Taking to the Emmy stage back in 2000, Gandolfini made note of the link between his win for Best Drama Actor and that of recent four-time champ Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue"): "I can't really explain this, except for I think that the academy has an affinity for slightly overweight bald men from looking at the last few years," joked Gandolfini. "Excuse me, Mr. Franz, I'm sorry about that."
Prevailing for the episode "The Happy Wanderer," he edged out Franz, Jerry Orbach ("Law & Order"), Martin Sheen ("The West Wing") and Sam Waterston ("Law & Order"). Gandolfini had been nominated in 1999 for the show's breakout inaugural season, but lost to Franz who made history by winning four Emmys in this category.
Gandolfini was on a roll, but then "The Sopranos" went on hiatus for over a year so the series was not eligible at the 2002 Emmys.
In 2003, Ganfolfini and co-stars Edie Falco (Drama Lead Actress) and Joe Pantoliano (Drama Supporting Actor) came roaring back with a trio of Emmy wins, proving that even though the series had been out of sight, it was never truly out of mind.
Gandolfini and Falco both prevailed for the much-heralded season four finale "Whitecaps," while Pantoliano scored for "Whoever Did This." For this third win, Galdolfini took out competitors Michael Chiklis ("The Shield"), Peter Krause ("Six Feet Under"), Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland ("24").
He tried a more comedic route in that third trip to the podium, thanking the likes of Betty Boop, Malibu Barbie, Big Joe and the Handsome Jew in his acceptance speech.
He was nominated twice more for the fifth (2004) and the final (2007) seasons of "The Sopranos," for a total of six nominations.
Below, watch videos of Gandolfini's first win in 2000 and his last win in 2003 (which begins around the 6:00 mark).
And join the "In Memorial" discussion in our forum where posters are mourning the sudden loss of this acting titan.
Emmy voters aren't sentimental when it comes to giving out their trophies. Since 1980, 14 performers were nominated after they died but only one -- Raul Julia for his lead role in the telefilm "The Burning Season" -- prevailed.
Kathryn Joosten won two Emmys for guesting on "Desperate Housewives." Less than seven weeks after her death on June 2, 2012, TV academy members nominated her as Best Comedy Supporting Actress for her role as the busybody neighbor Karen McCluskey. She lost to repeat winner Julie Bowen.
Click on the arrow to the right of the photo to see who defeated the other 12 posthumous nominees.
And check out our other fun Emmy photo galleries:
Every actor submits only one sample episode, which will be judged by other actors (ranging from 25 to 75 per category jury) between July 28 and August 14. TV series submit six, which will be split into three pairs to be distributed randomly to about 300 voters. We now have uncovered every single title submitted for the 2014 races. CLICK HERE FOR THE EPISODES