|Birthplace||Bronx, New York, U.S.|
|Birthdate||February 24, 1931|
Dominic Chianese stars as Junior Soprano throughout the series.
Chianese was born in the borough of The Bronx in New York City, the son of a bricklayer. He graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1948. He worked as a bricklayer with his father and attended night school during the 1950s, graduating with a bachelor's degree in speech and theater from Brooklyn College in 1961. His earliest stage work occurred in 1952 with a Gilbert and Sullivan repertory company of singers, actors and musicians called The American Savoyards, under the direction of Dorothy Raedler.
After a decade of doing college and Off Broadway theatre, Chianese attended his first professional acting class at HB Studios 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 also had Tony Sirico working as an extra), which sparked a film career, culminating in several films (and plays) with Al Pacino.
Before being cast in The Godfather Part II, Chianese was working 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.
Chianese has appeared in 4 movies with his friend, 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
- Looking for Richard (1996) - as Himself
Chianese is an accomplished tenor and musician, having released a CD (fittingly titled 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 3x13, "Army of One"). In 2003, Chianese, along with AOL Music, released a second CD titled Ungrateful Heart, which features 16 classic Neopolitan songs.
Chianese can currently be seen in the second season of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire as Leander Whitlock, a retired Atlantic City alderman and was previously a judge on the CBS drama The Good Wife (with lead star Julianna Margulies).