Dominic Chianese (pronounced Key-ah-NAYZ-e; born February 24 or September 2, 1931) is a two-time Emmy Award-nominated American film, television and theatre actor, perhaps best known for his role as Corrado Soprano on the HBO TV series, The Sopranos.
Chianese was born in the borough of The Bronx, New York City, the son of a bricklayer. He graduated from the prestigious 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 sparked a film career, culminating in several films (and plays) with Al Pacino.
Before getting the call for Godfather II, Chianese was working for the Drug Commission of New York State as a recreational worker in a rehab center. He was teaching guitar to women who were serving time for drug-related crimes.