Little, Mr. Big, Joe Pesci is the stockily built actor who was born to Mary, a part-time barber, and Angelo Pesci, a bartender and fork-lift driver on 9th February 1943. Born Joseph Frank Pesci, he became a child actor who tasted fame early. Joe Pesci regularly starred in the series, Star Time Kids and later went on to work as a barber in 1960, a career he emulated from his mother. By 1961 he had the good fortune to launch his debut with Joey Dee and the Starlighters. That debut saw him dance in Hey, Let's Twist!
Later in '61 he worked as a singer in a lounge and became a stand-up comedian assuming the names of "Jonathan Marcus," "Joey Prima," and "Joey Cannon." He later cut a record album under the assumed name "Joe Ritchie," entitled "Little Joe Sure Can Sing," followed by a stretch of performances he made in the late 1960s with Frank Vincent, his fellow actor and friend. Around the local clubs and lounges throughout North Jersey, the pair known as Vincent and Pesci, copied and performed much of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis' material before Pesci went on to appear on the Broadway show The New Vaudevillians in 1975. Unfortunately, that opportunity lasted only one week.
But doors began to open again when he was offered a role in the film, Death Collector. Robert De Niro saw Pesci act and confident he could deliver, asked director Martin Scorsese to include Pesci in the film, Raging Bull. He played ' Joey LaMotta' and then went on to later star in a television sitcom. He began collecting awards such as Best Newcomer to Film British Academy Award, National Society of Film Critics, together with Best Supporting Actor, and National Board of Review Best Supporting Actor, for Raging Bull among others.
He later prominently played along side De Niro in Once Upon A Time In America and landed a role as con man 'Leo Getz' in Lethal Weapon 2 in 1989. He was reunited with friend Frank Vincent and co-starred in the movie, Goodfellas in 1990. He played the 'psychotic' Tommy De Vito for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Pesci was invited to play 'Leo Getz' in Lethal Weapon 3 and 4 in 1992 and 1998 respectively but his natural talent that had shone in 1991 when he played a clumsy, and rather awkward non-lawyer in the comedy, My Cousin Vinny had begun to dim.
Although it was a hit and miss career, he proved he still possessed an innate ability to act when he played the role of the half-crazed and delusional Nicky (based on real-life gangster Tony Spilotro) in the blisteringly quick and brutal Casino but he began to slip again when in '97, the two comedies he followed up with, Eight Heads In A Duffel Bag and Gone Fishin' were not well accepted and had the critics doubting his ability.
It was in 1999 when Pesci announced he was retiring from acting so that he could return to his musical career. He took a six year hiatus until 2005 when he returned to appear in a cameo role in the thriller, The Good Shepherd directed by Robert De Niro in which Matt Damon starred. And then in 2010 he co-starred in Love Ranch with Helen Mirren. With 34 films under his name and four stints in television, Pesci was married and divorced three times and has a daughter, Tiffany with Claudia Haro whom he married in 1988.
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