Any fan of mob flicks will know Dominic Chianese (that's pronounced kay-a-NAY-see, not chi-an-ESE, ya half-baked meatball). Watching Corrado "Uncle Junior" Soprano, we have peered into his fictional life for four fun- and mayhem-filled seasons of The Sopranos. We laughed when he uttered the series' most memorable line ("Federal marshals are so far up my ass, I can taste Brylcreem"). We gasped when he put out a hit on his own nephew, Tony (which a pair of street thugs botched in an action-intense episode). And we sighed in disappointment when he got pinched for myriad racketeering crimes (can't wait for the fifth-season results of the trial). But Uncle June is just a small part of a career that has spanned 50 years, beginning with a chorus role in HMS Pinafore in 1952.
Given that his early work primarily consisted of musicals, it should come as no surprise that music has been as important as acting in Chianese's career. And with the success of The Sopranos and his national singing debut on the final show of the third season, Chianese made his recording debut in 2001 with Hits. The album includes about half what you would expect out of deeply Italian-American Chianese ("Santa Lucia," "State Vicino a Me") and about half inexplicable folkie choices ("Guantanamera," Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times"), which is understandable once you realize he was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the '60s. The rest of the album consists of self-penned numbers, primarily love ballads.
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While Chianese's musical fans may consist of mob-movie enthusiasts as well as folk fans, those who love Chianese through his acting include many Cosa Nostra members. According to the New York Post, Anthony Rotondo, a capo of the Jersey-based DeCavalcante mob who's currently singing to the feds, claims the group was amused that the show seemed to follow the lives of the DeCavalcantes. Art doing what it's supposed to: imitating life.