45 facts about Joe Pesci

Pesci is known for playing tough, volatile characters, in a variety of genres. Learn 45 facts about actor Joe Pesci.

1. In the 1960s, Pesci began working as a barber, following in his mother's footsteps.

2. He tried to start a musical career, playing guitar with several bands, including Joey Dee and the Starliters.

3. Originally, he went by the original spelling of his name, Peski, but changed it due to ridicule from peers.

4. In 1968, he released the album Little Joe Sure Can Sing! (billed as Joe Ritchie), on which he sang covers of contemporary pop hits.

5. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Pesci teamed up with fellow actor Frank Vincent, performing in local clubs like 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.

6. 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 run his restaurant, Amici's, in the Bronx.

7. His full name is Joseph Frank "Joe" Pesci.

8. He is a semi-retired Italian-American actor, comedian and musician.

9. He is known for playing tough, volatile characters, in a variety of genres.

10. He is best known for a trio of Martin Scorsese films in which he co-starred with Robert De Niro: Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino.

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

12. Pesci has starred in a number of other high-profile films, including Easy Money, Once Upon a Time in America, Lethal Weapon 2, Home Alone, JFK, My Cousin Vinny, Lethal Weapon 3, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, A Bronx Tale, and Lethal Weapon 4.

13. He announced his retirement from acting in 1999, and since then he has appeared only sporadically in films, including a cameo appearance in the 2006 spy thriller The Good Shepherd, directed by De Niro.

14. In late 2015, Pesci was announced by Martin Scorsese as part of the intended cast for the upcoming crime drama The Irishman.

15. Pesci was born on February 9, 1943, in Newark, New Jersey.

16. His mother, Mary, worked part-time as a barber.

17. His father, Angelo Pesci, was a forklift driver for General Motors, and a bartender.

18. Pesci is of Italian descent.

19. By the time Pesci was five years old, he was appearing in plays in New York.

20. At age 10, he was a regular on a television variety show called Startime Kids which also featured Connie Francis.

21. Pesci was childhood friends with singers Frankie Valli and Tommy DeVito, 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.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. Starred as private detective Rocky Nelson in the short-lived television comedy series Half Nelson.

25. In 1988, Pesci appeared in the Michael Jackson musical anthology film Moonwalker, in the film's sixth and longest segment, "Smooth Criminal".

26. He appeared as Leo Getz in the Lethal Weapon sequels, released in 1989, 1992 and 1998.

27. Pesci received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, which he accepted with one of the shortest speeches in Oscar history, saying simply, "It's my privilege. Thank you," before leaving the stage.

28. Pesci also co-starred in the blockbuster Home Alone in 1990, playing Harry Lyme, one of two bumbling burglars along with good friend Daniel Stern.

29. In 1992, 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.

30. 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.

31. He was the original choice to play Myron Larabee, the stressed-out postman in Jingle All the Way opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1996, but the part was ultimately given to Sinbad, whose physical size was more comparable to Schwarzenegger's.

32. In 1998, he released his second LP (his first album in 30 years) called 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.

33. 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".

34. In 1999, Pesci announced his retirement from acting to pursue a musical career and to enjoy life away from the camera.

35. 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.

36. Pesci appeared with Don Rickles in a 2011 Snickers advertisement in which he portrays the alter-ego of a young man who attends a party and becomes agitated by two women.

37. Pesci has been married and divorced three times.

38. His first marriage was in 1964.

39. His third was from 1988 to 1992, to Claudia Haro, a model and actress.

40. In 2007 Pesci was engaged to Angie Everhart, but the couple broke up in 2008.

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

42. 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.

43. His eyes are different colors.

44. He is a good friend of George Carlin.

45. In his teens he did Judo.

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Joe Pesci

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