Dominic ChianeseView in iTunes
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Actor/singer Dominic Chianese (pronounced Key-a-NAY-see) gained widespread recognition for his portrayal of Corrado "Uncle Junior" Soprano on the cable-television series The Sopranos starting in 1999, but his career dates back to the 1950s. A second-generation Italian-American, he was born into a family of stonemasons in the New York City borough the Bronx. After graduating from the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, he entered the family bricklaying business, but in 1952, he got a part in the chorus of a touring company of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, his first professional acting and singing job. He returned to bricklaying after a year, but in the late '50s he began acting in summer stock companies, eventually getting his Actor's Equity card. He also went back to school, earning a degree from Brooklyn College at the age of 30. In the 1960s, while seeking acting parts, he also joined the folk music boom, playing an acoustic guitar and singing in Greenwich Village. He became an MC at the famed nightclub Gerde's Folk City in 1964, continuing to appear there off and on into the late '70s. His acting parts gradually became more important and included Broadway stints in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo and David Mamet's The Water Engine. He broke into the movies in 1972 with Fuzz, and since then has appeared in a string of films including The Godfather Part II (1974), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), All the President's Men (1976), Fingers (1978), ... And Justice for All (1979), Q&A (1990), Out for Justice (1991), and The Night We Never Met (1993), as well as making frequent guest appearances on network television series. This made for a consistently successful career as a character actor, but it was his casting as Uncle Junior, the aging Mafia patriarch who has a contentious relationship with his Mob boss nephew Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) that made him nationally famous. On the final episode of the third season of The Sopranos in May 2001, Chianese made his national singing debut, presaging the release of his first album, Hits, in June. Ungrateful Heart followed two years later. ~ William Ruhlmann
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24 February 1931 in New York, NY [The Bronx]