Tarantina was found in his New York apartment on Saturday morning, a police spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost, after authorities responded to a call about an unconscious man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
While the cause of death remains unknown, a representative for the actor said he had “been ill lately” and was recovering at home.
“He was recently in the hospital and was in the process of recuperating from what I believe to be a heart-related issue,” Tarantina’s representative, Laurie Smith, told People.
“I have known him for years. He was an amazing, very, very talented actor and very sweet person,” Smith told CNN. “I was really shocked and very sad. I’m still shocked.”
Since 2017, Tarantina had a recurring role on Sherman-Palladino’s Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” as Jackie, the emcee at The Gaslight, a local dive bar where the titular comedian played by Rachel Brosnahan often performs.
He was expected to make an appearance in the show’s third season, which arrives next month on the streaming service.
In January, Tarantina picked up the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series alongside the rest of the cast, including Tony Shalhoub, Marin Hinkle, Zachary Levi and Brosnahan.
A tribute to the actor was posted Sunday on the official Twitter account for the show.
Brosnahan also remembered the late actor as a “golden fucking weirdo” in a post of her own on Instagram Sunday.
“So deeply sad to hear about the passing of Brian Tarantina. He was hilarious and talented and kind and an all around golden fucking weirdo,” she wrote. “Our family of weirds won’t be the same without him.”
Throughout his career, Taratina had collaborated with Sherman-Palladino. He appeared on her hit show “Gilmore Girls” over the series’ run as Bootsy, the owner of the Stars Hollow newsstand. He reprised his role for the Netflix revival “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” in 2016.
“For over twenty five years, Brian Tarantina has been in our lives. He was in Amy’s first pilot. And he’s been in every significant thing we’ve done since,” Amy Sherman-Palladino and husband Daniel Palladino said in a statement to Deadline. “He came in with that voice and that timing and he made every scene better. And weirder. Every moment was completely unique. You can’t describe a guy like Brian, you just had to be there. And lucky for us, we were. We love him and will forever miss him.”
Tarantina also appeared in other television series, including “The Black Donnellys,” “Madam Secretary,” “ER” and “Heroes,” as well as films such as “Carlito’s Way,” “Born on the Fourth of July” and more recently “BlacKkKlansman” and “The Kitchen.”