Dominic Chianese Biography

Dominic Chianese is an American actor, musician, and singer. This biography profiles his childhood, family, personal life, career, etc.

Quick Facts

Birthday: February 24, 1931

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

Age: 89 Years, 89 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Pisces

Born in: The Bronx, New York City, New York

Famous as: Actor

Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males

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Spouse/Ex-: Jane Pittson (m. 2003)

father: Gaetano Chianese

mother: Angelina Chianese

children: Alexander John Gwozdz Chianese, Dominic Chianese Jr., Dominica Roskelly Chianese, Leah Espy Chianese, Rebbeca Scarpatti Chianese, Sarah Chianese

City: New York City

U.S. State: New Yorkers

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Dominic Chianese is an American actor, musician, and singer, best recognized for playing ‘Johnny Ola’ in the classic American crime film 'The Godfather Part II’ and as ‘Corrado John Soprano Jr.’ in the American crime-drama TV series ‘The Sopranos.’ This veteran actor with over six decades of extensive work, including roles in theater, films, and TV, first appeared in an ‘Off-Broadway’ theater. He made his ‘Broadway’ debut with the play ‘Oliver!’ and advanced his stage career with other works in ‘Broadway,’ ‘Off Broadway,’ and regional theater. He made his TV debut in 1964, with the drama series ‘East Side/West Side,’ and made his big-screen debut in the early 1970s, with the American action comedy ‘Fuzz.’ His big break came when he appeared as ‘Johnny Ola’ in the blockbuster crime film ‘The Godfather Part II,’ starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The ensuing years saw him performing with Al Pacino in several plays and films. He furthered his fame with the ‘The Sopranos,’ which earned him two ‘Emmy’ nominations. Other notable works of this seasoned actor include films, such as ‘All the President's Men’ and ‘Unfaithful.’ His notable TV performances include his roles in series, such as ‘Ryan's Hope’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire.’ This veteran actor has also made his mark as a singer and musician. He came up with two CDs, namely, ‘Hits’ and ‘Ungrateful Heart.’ He can be seen playing the titular role in the 2019 film ‘Umberto D.’

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Childhood & Early Life
  • He stepped into acting with stage. In 1952, he got acquainted with ‘Off-Broadway’ productions and the touring repertory-theatre company ‘American Savoyards’ that paved his way for the national tours of Gilbert and Sullivan's ‘The Mikado and Patience.’
  • He later took his first professional training in acting at the ‘HB Studio’ in Manhattan, under the tutelage of famous American actor, director, and acting teacher Walt Witcover. Eventually, he developed a passion for drama and musical theater.
  • The acclaimed American drama series ‘East Side/West Side,’ where he featured as ‘Charley’ in the episode ‘The Street,’ in 1964, marked his TV debut. He was recommended for the role by George C. Scott.
  • In 1965, he made his ‘Broadway’ debut with the Peter Coe-directed English musical ‘Oliver!,’ which ran at the ‘Martin Beck Theatre’ for 64 performances. He performed as ‘Mr. Sowerberry’ with Victor Stiles playing ‘Oliver.’
  • The years that followed, saw him appearing in many other ‘Broadway,’ ‘Off Broadway’ and regional theater productions. The venues included the ‘New York Shakespeare Festival,’ the ‘Long Wharf Theatre’ and the ‘Yale Repertory Theatre’ among others. He would often play the rhythm guitar and sing in restaurants and taverns to ease his pocket crunch.
  • He had a stint at the ‘Drug Commission of New York State’ as a recreational worker in a rehabilitation center and gave guitar lessons to women serving their terms for committing drug-related crimes. His humanitarian efforts earned him the ‘Ellis Island Medal of Honor’ in 2010.
  • Soon, he earned one of the most memorable roles of his career, ‘Johnny Ola,’ in the American crime film ‘The Godfather Part II,’ produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The Oscar-winning film, which starred Al Pacino and Robert De Niro and released on December 1974, not only became a huge commercial success but also emerged as one of the greatest films in the history of American cinema, particularly in the gangster genre.
  • ‘The Godfather Part II’ gave him initial recognition and made his way for other notable roles in films and TV, spanning across various genres. This helped him display his acting mettle and versatility with great élan.
  • He shared screen space with friend Al Pacino in two more commercially hit films, namely, ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ (1975) and ‘...And Justice For All’ (1979). The directorial debut of Al Pacino, the 1996 documentary film ‘Looking for Richard,’ also featured Dominic. He also performed in several plays with Al Pacino.
  • In 1981, he played ‘Alexei Vartova’ in 40 episodes of the popular American soap opera ‘Ryan's Hope,’ which originally aired on ‘ABC’ for 13 years, from July 1975.
  • His fame reached new heights after he portrayed the character of ‘Corrado John Soprano Jr.,’ a smart, old-fashioned, difficult-to-handle senior Mafia member of the ‘DiMeo’ crime family, in the American crime-drama TV series ‘The Sopranos.’
  • His brilliant characterization in ‘The Sopranos’ in all its six seasons that aired on ‘HBO’ from January 10, 1999, to June 10, 2007, earned him a nomination for the ‘Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series’ in both 2000 and 2001. He also performed the 1911 Neapolitan song ‘Core 'ngrato,’ composed by Salvatore Cardillo, in the Season 3 finale of ‘The Sopranos,’ titled ‘Army of One.’
  • Apart from acting, he has also carved a niche for himself as a proficient tenor and musician. In 2000, he released the CD ‘Hits,’ which included various American and Italian numbers sung by him. His second CD, encompassing 16 classic Neapolitan songs, titled ‘Ungrateful Heart,’ was released by ‘AOL Music’ in 2003.
  • He appeared in several other notable American films and TV productions, illustrating his wide range of acting. These included films such as the 1976 political thriller ‘All the President's Men,’ the 1990 crime film ‘Q&A,’ and the 2011 family comedy ‘Mr. Popper's Penguins’; TV series such as ‘Damages’ (2010) and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ (2011–2013); and TV movies ‘Gotti’ (1996) and ‘Crimes of Fashion’ (2004).
  • His forthcoming film ‘Umberto D.,’ slated to release in 2019, will feature him in the titular role.
Personal Life
  • In 1961, he married Merle Molofsky, with whom he had three children. The marriage later ended in divorce. His actor son Dominic Chianese Jr. also featured in ‘The Sopranos’ in three of its episodes in the sixth season.
  • On June 8, 2003, he married Jane Pittson.

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Last Updated
- February 06, 2018
Dominic Chianese

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