David Chase

Active - 1972 - 2012  |   Born - Aug 22, 1945 in Mount Vernon, New York, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Crime

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Biography by Nathan Southern

Best known for his blockbuster HBO crime drama series The Sopranos, television multihyphenate David Chase (born David DeCesare) grew up, like his lead characters, in an Italian-American family in New Jersey. An only child, Chase discovered an inveterate propensity for storytelling and an immense love of cinema -- particularly gangster films -- at an early age, and reportedly spent countless hours in matinees. A taste of film production at the esteemed School for Visual Arts in New York introduced Chase to his life's calling; wanting more, he promptly abandoned his planned career as a rock drummer, headed to California, and enrolled in Stanford University's graduate-level film program, where he gravitated more to screenwriting than to hands-on production. After graduation, Chase established himself as a much sought-after scenarist with a marked gift for psychologically multilayered scripts that evinced unusual intensity -- evident via his work on such series programs as Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Rockford Files, I'll Fly Away, and Northern Exposure (the latter two done for Joshua Brand and John Falsey) and on the multi-award-winning telemovie Off the Minnesota Strip (1980), directed by Lamont Johnson. The Sopranos, however, truly marked Chase's breakthrough. An ensemble psychodrama about a family of Jersey mobsters, the program springboarded to a large degree from the sociopathic psyche of the main character, mafia don Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), revealed during the mobster's numerous therapy sessions on the "couch." Nevertheless, in true ensemble fashion, Chase also crafted an idiosyncratic and immensely colorful group of supporting characters and arced them deliberately and calculatedly as the seasons rolled on. When the program finally wrapped, in mid-2007, audiences delivered a somewhat mixed response to its finale (which denied viewers any concrete resolution to the storyline, and abruptly ended with a cut to black in what seemed like the middle of a scene), but it had many staunch defenders. The Sopranos, of course, turned Chase into one of the hottest writers in Hollywood; meanwhile, speculation flourished about the series creator's next endeavor, with scattered suggestions and rumors of his possible involvement in big-screen projects.

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  • Moved to California after graduating from NYU in 1968.
  • Wrote scripts for The Rockford Files in the 1970s.
  • Created two original television series, Almost Grown and The Sopranos.
  • Produced and wrote for Northern Exposure
  • Based The Sopranos largely on the experiences he had with his own family.