“For TV I don’t think I could have gotten a better part than Uncle Junior because of the intimacy of the character based on David Chase’s brilliant writing.” Dominic Chianese
Dominic Chianese is an American actor, singer, and musician. He is best known for his role as Corrado “Junior” Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos, and Johnny Ola in The Godfather Part II. Chianese is an accomplished tenor and musician, having released Hits in 2000, on which he sings American and Italian songs. He performed Salvatore Cardillo‘s sentimental classic “Core ‘ngrato” (“Ungrateful Heart”), on the third-season finale of The Sopranos (episode 3.13, “Army of One“). In 2003, Chianese, along with AOL Music, released a second CD titled Ungrateful Heart, which features 16 classic Neapolitan songs.
After a decade of attending college and appearing in Off-Broadway theatre, Chianese attended his first professional acting class at HB Studio in Manhattan, with renowned teacher Walt Witcover. Drama and musical theater became Chianese’s passion. His first Broadway show was Oliver! in 1965. He has continued to perform in Broadway theatre, Off Broadway, and regional theatre. To supplement income in the dry periods, he played rhythm guitar and sang in taverns and restaurants. Chianese’s first television credit occurred when George C. Scott recommended him for a role in the acclaimed series East Side/West Side. In 1974, Francis Ford Coppola cast Chianese as Johnny Ola in The Godfather Part II, which sparked a film career, culminating in several films (and plays) with Al Pacino. The Godfather Part II (1974) – as Johnny Ola, Dog Day Afternoon (1975) – as Sonny’s Father…And Justice For All (1979) – as Carl Travers, and Looking for Richard (1996) – as Himself.
Before being cast in The Godfather Part II, Chianese worked for the Drug Commission of New York State as a recreational worker in a rehabilitation center. He taught guitar to women who were serving time for drug-related crimes.
In 2010, Chianese received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of his humanitarian efforts.