(born August 22
) is an American screenwriter
, and television producer
. Chase has worked in television for more than 30 years; he has produced and written for shows such as The Rockford Files
, I'll Fly Away
, and Northern Exposure
. He has created two original series: the first, Almost Grown
, aired for 10 episodes in 1988 and 1989; Chase is best known for his second original series, the influential and critically acclaimed HBO drama The Sopranos
, which aired for six seasons between 1999 and 2007. A prominent figure in 2000s American television, Chase has won seven Emmys
, among many other awards.
An only child, David DeCesare
was born to Henry and Norma DeCesare (both of Neapolitan
origin) in Mount Vernon, New York
. Some sources list his birth name as David Del Cesare
. An Italian-American
, Chase grew up in a small garden apartment
in Clifton, New Jersey
and in North Caldwell
. Chase has stated that he had many issues with his parents—who he feels were overbearing—as a youth. He grew up watching matinée crime films and was well-known as a creative storyteller during his childhood. Chase claims his father was an angry man who belittled him constantly as a child and his mother was a "passive-aggressive drama queen" and "a nervous woman who dominated any situation she was in by being so needy and always on the verge of hysteria. You walked on eggshells." One of his characters on the HBO
original series The Sopranos
, Livia Soprano
is based on his mother.
Chase struggled with severe depression
as a teenager, something he still deals with today. He graduated from West Essex High School
in 1963 and attended Wake Forest University
in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
, where his depression worsened. "I slept 18 hours a day," Chase later stated. He described his problems as "what's come to be known as normal, nagging, clinical depression. It was awful." He also worked as a drummer
during this period, and held aspirations of being a professional musician. After two years, he transferred to New York University
, where he announced his decision to pursue a career in film, a decision that was not well-received by his parents. He went on to attend Stanford University
's School of Film.
After graduating from NYU in 1968 Chase moved to California
and married his high school sweetheart Denise Kelly. They have a daughter, Michelle, who acted in several episodes of The Sopranos
, as Meadow Soprano's friend Hunter Scangarelo
Before creating and developing The Sopranos
, Chase started in Hollywood as a story editor
for Kolchak: The Night Stalker
and then produced episodes of Northern Exposure
and The Rockford Files
, among other series. He also worked as a writer while on The Rockford Files
—a show which he worked on in various capacities for more than four years. He won several Emmys
, including one for a television movie
story of runaway
he scripted in 1980. After The Rockford Files
run ended the same year, Chase worked in numerous television jobs until he wound up in charge of Northern Exposure
in 1993. Chase worked in relative anonymity before The Sopranos
debuted. Inspired as a youth by the film The Public Enemy
, Chase created the critically and commercially successful show by drawing heavily on his own personal life; the character of Livia Soprano
is modelled after his own mother. In a recent interview Chase stated that he experienced frustration for a long period with being unable to break out of the TV genre and into film over this time.
His first original created series was Almost Grown in 1988, with Eve Gordon and Timothy Daly. Although the one-hour series was well-received by critics, only 10 episodes aired from November 1988 to February 1989.
Awards and recognition
In 1982 Chase won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series for The Rockford Files. Two years later he received an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special, for the film Off the Minnesota Strip. For his work on The Sopranos, Chase earned two additional Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series, in 2004 and 2007; he also won three Emmys for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series in 1999, 2003 and 2007, for the episodes "College," "Whitecaps" and "Made in America," respectively. In total Chase has received 23 Emmy nominations.
Chase was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Drama in 1999 for The Sopranos. He has been nominated for that award six additional times without winning: once for The Rockford Files, twice for I'll Fly Away, and three times for The Sopranos.
In 2005, Chase received a Special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his entire body of work.