Joseph Frank “Joe” Pesci (/ˈpɛʃi/ pesh-ee; Italian: born February 9, 1943) is an American actor, comedian and musician, known for playing tough, volatile characters, in a variety of genres. He is best known for a trio of films in which he co-starred with Robert De Niro, directed by Martin Scorsese: 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 then won the same award for his role as the 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), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Home Alone (1990), JFK (1991), My Cousin Vinny (1992), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (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 sporadically in films, including a cameo appearance in the 2006 spy thriller The Good Shepherd, directed by De Niro.
Pesci was born on February 9, 1943, in Newark, New Jersey. His mother, Mary (née Mesce), worked part-time as a barber, and his father, Angelo Pesci, was a forklift driver for General Motors, and a barte 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 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.
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. 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 alter-ego of a young man who attends a party and becomes agitated by two women.
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. 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.