Dominic Chianese

Active - 1972 - 2012  |   Born - Feb 24, 1931 in New York, New York, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Comedy

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After decades of honing his acting skills on stage and screen, and eventually carving out a niche for himself as a "gangster," Dominic Chianese came upon his most widely recognized role as Uncle Junior on the hit HBO mob series The Sopranos, beginning in 1999. Born in 1931, in Bronx, NY, Chianese attended Brooklyn College, and began appearing on-stage in 1952. He would appear on and off-Broadway in theater for over 45 years before his famous role on The Sopranos, adding film and television to his repertoire along the way.

After his first film role in 1972, as a panhandler in a drama called Fuzz, he embarked on what would become the trademark of his career with his first gangster role, as Johnny Ola in Coppola's The Godfather Pt. II (1974), the classic, starring Al Pacino. Chianese also appeared in All the President's Men in 1976, and would work with Pacino again in the 1979 thriller ...And Justice for All.

Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Chianese had numerous roles of all kinds from major feature films to stage to made-for-TV movies. He was featured in Fort Apache, the Bronx in 1981, and had a small role in Pacino's Looking for Richard in 1996. In 1999, HBO debuted its mobster series The Sopranos, starring James Gandolfini, and Chianese's long-term experience acting in all kinds of mob-related roles finally paid off with his part as Corrado "Uncle Junior" Soprano. The series earned incredible success, and in 2001, Chianese was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role on the program. In 2002, he was featured in Adrian Lyne's drama Unfaithful, starring Diane Lane, Richard Gere, and Olivier Martinez.

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  • Was a high-school classmate of novelist E.L. Doctorow.
  • Career in show business began when, as a 21-year-old bricklayer, he skipped work to audition for the opera HMS Pinafore; got the job and started touring with a Gilbert and Sullivan company.
  • In the 1960s, was an emcee at the legendary music venue Gerde's Folk City, where he introduced performers such as Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, David Bromberg and Janis Ian.
  • His character on The Sopranos, Uncle Junior, sang "Core 'Ngrato" ("Ungrateful Heart") to close the show's third-season finale.
  • Recorded two albums of Italian standards, Hits (2001) and Ungrateful Heart (2003).