Joe Pesci


Joe Pesci Biography

Joseph Frank "Joe" Pesci ( ; born February 9, 1943) is an American actor, singer, musician and comedian, known for playing tough, volatile characters, in a variety of genres. He is best known for his role as Harry Lime in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and for co-starring with Robert De Niro in the Martin Scorsese-directed films Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995).

Pesci was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Raging Bull, and later won the award for his role as psychopathic mobster Tommy DeVito (based on Thomas DeSimone) in Goodfellas.

Pesci has starred in a number of other high-profile films, including Easy Money (1983), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Moonwalker (1988), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), JFK (1991), My Cousin Vinny (1992), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), A Bronx Tale (1993), and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998). He announced his retirement from acting in 1999, and since then he has appeared only occasionally in films, including a cameo appearance in the 2006 spy thriller The Good Shepherd, directed by De Niro.

Early life

Pesci was born on February 9, 1943, in Newark, New Jersey. His mother, Mary (ne Mesce), worked part-time as a barber, and his father, Angelo Pesci, was a forklift driver for General Motors, and a bartender. Pesci, of Italian descent, was raised in Belleville, New Jersey, and attended Belleville High School. By the time Pesci was five years old, he was appearing in plays in New York. At age 10, he was a regular on a television variety show called Startime Kids, which also featured Connie Francis.

Pesci was childhood friends with singers Frankie Valli (who was nine years his senior) and Tommy DeVito (who was 15 years his senior) and in 1959, at age 16, he helped introduce them to singer and songwriter Bob Gaudio, which led to the formation of the band The Four Seasons.

Early career

In the 1960s, Pesci began working as a barber, following in his mother's footsteps. At the same time, he tried to start a musical career, playing guitar with several bands. In 1968, he released his debut album Little Joe Sure Can Sing! (billed as Joe Ritchie), on which he sang covers of contemporary pop hits.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Pesci joined fellow actor Frank Vincent in performing in local clubs including the Arlington Lounge and other venues around North Jersey as Vincent and Pesci. The comedy duo's material was a play on Martin and Lewis and Abbott and Costello. In 1975, they appeared in the Broadway show The New Vaudevillians, which only lasted one week.

The first film Pesci starred in was the 1976 low-budget crime film The Death Collector alongside Frank Vincent. After the film Pesci returned to The Bronx and lived above Amici's Restaurant, where he was an employee.

Acting career

In 1979, Pesci got a telephone call from Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, who were impressed with his performance in The Death Collector and asked him to co-star in Scorsese's Raging Bull as Joey LaMotta. Pesci won the BAFTA Film Award for Newcomer to Leading Film Roles in 1981 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Over the next few years, Pesci appeared in several smaller films, including Dear Mr. Wonderful (1982), Easy Money (1983) and Eureka (1983).

In 1984, he was cast in Once Upon a Time in America, again appearing alongside De Niro. Next year he starred as private detective Rocky Nelson in the short-lived television comedy series Half Nelson.

In 1988, Pesci appeared in the Michael Jackson musical anthology film Moonwalker, in the film's sixth and longest segment, "Smooth Criminal". He played the antagonist, crime boss Frankie "Mr. Big" LiDeo (an anagram for one of the film's producers and longtime Jackson manager Frank DiLeo, with whom Pesci would later act in Goodfellas).

He appeared as Leo Getz, a comedic sidekick and best friend to protagonist detectives Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) in the Lethal Weapon sequels, released in 1989, 1992 and 1998.

In 1990, he reunited with Scorsese and De Niro for Goodfellas, where he played mobster Tommy DeVito, based on real-life mobster Thomas DeSimone. (Tommy DeVito is also the name of Pesci's old acquaintance from Belleville, New Jersey and a member of The Four Seasons, but, contrary to popular belief, the naming is coincidental.) Old friend Frank Vincent also appears in the film; Pesci's character kills Vincent's character in a rage in one of the most well-remembered scenes in the film after the Vincent character contemptuously tells him to "go home and get your [shoe] shine box." Pesci received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role, which he accepted with one of the shortest speeches in Oscar history, saying simply, "It's my privilege. Thank you," before leaving the stage.

Pesci also co-starred in the blockbuster Home Alone in 1990, playing Harry Lime, one of two bumbling burglars (along with good friend Daniel Stern) who attempt to burgle the house of the young character played by Macaulay Culkin. In the film's climactic scene, Pesci accidentally bit one of Culkin's fingers, giving him a scar. Two years later, Pesci reprised his role in the sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

Pesci played David Ferrie in 1991's JFK. In 1992 he appeared as the title character in the comedy My Cousin Vinny with Ralph Macchio, Marisa Tomei and Fred Gwynne. The same year, Pesci spearheaded the cast of The Public Eye as Leon "Bernzy" Bernstein, a photographer. His performance in the film, a departure from his usual characters, was critically acclaimed.

Pesci hosted sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live on October 10, 1992, while doing publicity for My Cousin Vinny. During his monologue, he restored a picture of Pope John Paul II, which had been torn by Sinad O'Connor on the previous broadcast.

Pesci had a small role in 1993's A Bronx Tale as Carmine. The film starred Robert De Niro and Chazz Palminteri, both of whom made the film and personally offered Pesci the role. In 1995, Pesci had his third and so far final collaboration with Scorsese and De Niro in the film Casino, playing Nicky Santoro, based on real-life Mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro, along with Sharon Stone and James Woods, Pesci having previously co-starred with the latter in Once Upon a Time in America. In 1996, Pesci was considered to play Myron Larabee the stressed-out postman in Jingle All the Way opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the part was ultimately given to Sinbad, whose physical size was more comparable to Schwarzenegger's.

He had starring roles in several other films including Man on Fire (1987), The Super (1991), Jimmy Hollywood (1994), With Honors (also 1994) and Gone Fishin' (1997).

Other work and retirement from acting

In 1998, he released his second album in 30 years Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You, which spawned the single "Wise Guy," a rap number that played on the gangsta theme by referencing Mafia gangsterism. "Wise Guy" interpolated the 1980 hit "Rapture" by Blondie, and was co-written and produced by the hip-hop production team the Trackmasters. Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You was an album that was both humorous and serious, exploring a variety of genres, though most of it was big band jazz, and which paid homage to his character name from the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny, not only through its album title, but also by its lead track "Yo Cousin Vinny".

In 1999, Pesci announced his retirement from acting to pursue a musical career and to enjoy life away from the camera. He returned to acting when he did a cameo in De Niro's 2006 film The Good Shepherd. He starred in the 2010 brothel drama Love Ranch, alongside Helen Mirren.

Pesci appeared with Don Rickles in a 2011 Snickers advertisement in which he portrays the angry alter-ego of a young man who attends a party and becomes agitated by two women until he is calmed down by eating a Snickers bar.

Pesci also appears in the 2016 music documentary Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home in which he is filmed recording "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" from Scott's forthcoming posthumous album I Go Back Home.

Media depictions

Pesci is a character in the 2005 musical Jersey Boys, which tells the story of The Four Seasons, due to his involvement in the band's formation. He is similarly a character in the musical's 2014 film adaptation. In the film, the Joe Pesci character asks "Funny how?", a quote from a famous line of dialogue Pesci had in Goodfellas.

Personal life

Pesci has been married and divorced three times. His first marriage was in 1964. His third was from 1988 to 1992, to Claudia Haro, a model and actress with whom he has a daughter named Tiffany. In 2007 Pesci was engaged to Angie Everhart, but the couple broke up in 2008.

While filming scenes in two of Martin Scorsese's films (Raging Bull and Casino), Pesci broke the same rib, 15 years apart.

Filmography

Films

Year Title Role Notes
1961 Hey, Let's Twist! Dancer at the Peppermint Club Uncredited
1976 The Death Collector Joe Salvino
1980 Raging Bull Joey LaMotta BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1982 I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can Roger
Dear Mr. Wonderful Ruby Dennis
1983 Eureka Mayakofsky
Easy Money Nicky Cerone
1984 Once Upon a Time in America Frankie Minaldi
Everybody in Jail Corrado Parisi
1985 Half Nelson Rocky Nelson Television film
1987 Man on Fire David Coolidge
1988 Moonwalker Frankie Lideo (a.k.a. Mr. Big)
The Legendary Life of Ernest Hemingway John Dos Passos
1989 Lethal Weapon 2 Leo Getz
1990 Catchfire Leo Carelli AKA Backtrack (uncredited)
Betsy's Wedding Oscar Henner
Goodfellas Tommy DeVito Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Nominated - National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Home Alone Harry Lime
1991 The Super Louie Kritski
JFK David Ferrie
1992 My Cousin Vinny Vincent LaGuardia Gambini American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance
Lethal Weapon 3 Leo Getz
The Public Eye Leon Bernstein
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York Harry Lime
1993 A Bronx Tale Carmine Cameo
1994 Jimmy Hollywood Jimmy Alto
With Honors Simon Wilder
1995 Casino Nicky Santoro Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
1997 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag Tommy Spinelli
Gone Fishin' Joe Waters
1998 Lethal Weapon 4 Leo Getz Nominated - Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor - Action/Adventure
Nominated - Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
2006 The Good Shepherd Joseph Palmi Cameo
2010 Love Ranch Charlie Bontempo
2015 A Warrior's Tail Mosquito Voice; English version
TBA The Irishman Russell Bufalino

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1966 The Lucy Show Lead Musician/Musician Leader 2 episodes
1985 Half Nelson Rocky Nelson 6 episodes
1992 Tales from the Crypt Vic/Jack Episode: "Split Personality"
Nominated - CableACE Award for Actor in a Dramatic Series
1992 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Joe Pesci/The Spin Doctors"

Albums

  • Little Joe Sure Can Sing! (1968) Brunswick Records
  • Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You (1998) Columbia Records



This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Joe_Pesci" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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