Junior Soprano Gets Tough on Alzheimer’s

<i>Neurology Now</i> Reveals the Motivation behind Dominic Chianese’s Portrayal on "The Sopranos"

New York, N.Y. – The mafia code of silence applies to the man who shot Tony Soprano, but not to the actor who pulled the trigger. Though Dominic Chianese can’t tell us what happens to Junior Soprano in the June 4 season finale of “The Sopranos,” he does share the secrets of playing a mob boss afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease in the next issue of Neurology Now, the American Academy of Neurology magazine for patients and family caregivers. Even before he started playing Junior Soprano, Chianese was one of those caregivers—for his mother with dementia. And long before then, he had begun singing songs and playing guitar for nursing home residents. Those experiences and emotions have inspired his portrayal of Uncle Junior. “When I’m singing with Alzheimer’s patients, they’re looking right at you, they’re really in the moment; and when the song is finished, they’re gone,” Chianese tells the magazine, which is published bimonthly by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. “And Uncle Junior is like that. He comes in and out. One moment he’s lucid, and another moment he isn’t. It’s kind of a childlike quality.” His portrayal of an old mob boss in the throes of dementia has earned raves from television critics, medical experts and advocacy organizations. One of TV’s hottest shows, “The Sopranos” has thrust Chianese and Alzheimer’s into the public consciousness in a way no educational program could. Improbably, a 71-year-old character actor has emerged as the public face of the disease, prompting the Alzheimer’s Association to honor him for his advocacy efforts at its New York City chapter’s fundraising gala on May 31. The profile on Dominic Chianese—titled “Who Shot Tony Soprano?”—will be featured in the May/June issue of Neurology Now. For more on Neurology Now, including subscription information, visit Neurology Now is the American Academy of Neurology’s official magazine for patients, their families and caregivers. Produced bimonthly by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a leading international publisher of health and medical publications, the magazine provides accurate and important new information about advances and treatments for all neurological disorders. It offers expert advice about wellness and disease prevention, new medications and therapies, and strategies for coping with neurological disorders. Its goals range from improving communication between patients and caregivers to supporting disease awareness and self-management. Access back issues at

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 19,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson disease, autism and multiple sclerosis. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit


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