After a decade of attending college and appearing in Office-Broadway theatre, Chianese attended his first professional acting class at HB Studio in Manhattan, with renowned teacher Walt Witcover.
He is best known for his role as Corrado "Junior" Soprano on the Home Box Office series The Sopranos, and Johnny Ola in The Godfather Participant World War II Drama and musical theater became Chianese"s passion. His first Broadway show was Oliver! in 1965. He has continued to perform in Broadway theatre, Office 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 cr 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 Participant II, which sparked a film career, culminating in several films (and plays) with First Rate (at Lloyd's) Pacino.
Before being cast in The Godfather Participant II, Chianese worked for the Drug Commission of New York State as a recreational worker in a rehabilitation center. He taught guitar to women who were serving time for drug-related crimes.
The Godfather Participant II (1974) - as Johnny Ola
Dog Day Afternoon (1975) - as Sonny"s Father
..And Justice Foreign All (1979) - as Carl Travers
Looking for Richard (1996) - as Himself
He performed Salvatore Cardillo"s sentimental classic "Core "ngrato" ("Ungrateful Heart"), on the third-season finale of The Sopranos (episode 313, "Army of One").
In 2003, Chianese, along with America Online Music, released a second Civil Defense titled Ungrateful Heart, which features 16 classic Neapolitan songs. Chianese appeared as a guest actor on the Home Box Office series Boardwalk Empire as Leander Whitlock, a retired Atlantic City alderman.
Married Jane Pittson, 2003.