Dominic Chianese

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Dominic Chianese

Today, Dominic Chianese is best known for his role on the television series "The Sopranos," but he has a career that spans decades and includes theatre, movies, and music. Dominic Chianese was born on February 24th, 1931, in an Italian neighborhood in the Bronx, New York. Dominic’s grandparents emigrated to American in the early 1900’s from Naples and Sorrento, Italy (Internet Movie Database, 2005).

Dominic’s theatre career began in 1952 with ‘The American Savoyard’, which was a small Gilbert and Sullivan company of singers, actors, and musicians. Several years later, he began taking acting lessons at HB Studios in Manhattan, New York. Dominic has a great love for theatre and has performed in numerous Broadway and off Broadway shows from the 1960’s to the present. His first on Broadway show was ‘Oliver’ in 1965 (Dominic Chianese’s Biography, 2003).

On his website, Dominic tells a story of his audition for the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory company. He was working as a bricklayer in 1951 for his father. On the way home one day, he saw an ad in ‘The New York Times’ which called for singers for a new Gilbert and Sullivan company. He explains:

"The Bronx bus was approaching Manhattan, when I closed the newspaper, and walked to the front of the bus, where my father sat, arms crossed. The bus was rolling down Second Avenue, rapidly approaching 74th St.

‘Pop, is it okay if I get off the bus at 74th St.’, I asked.

‘What for?’ asked my father.

‘An audition’ I replied...

‘What's that?’

‘It's singing.’

My father thought about it for a long five seconds, and finally said: ‘O.K.’

I got off the bus, knocked on the door of the church basement and walked in. Near the end ... I sang a song — I think it was "That Old Devil Moon". I was asked to come back the next day with a song sheet and a Gilbert and Sullivan piece. I did and was hired on the spot for the tour of "The Mikado and Patience" (Dominic Chianese in the Theatre, 2003)."

The tour lasted about 10 months and was the beginning of Dominic Chianese’s professional career.

His first major role in a motion picture was in Francis Ford Coppola’s "The Godfather Part II" as Johnny Ola. In 1971 while performing in a play in Boston, Dominic’s agent called him to meet Coppola to read for "The Godfather.
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