Joseph Frank "Joe" Pesci (born February 9, 1943) is an Academy Award-winning American actor, comedian, singer and musician.
Pesci, an Italian American, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Mary, who worked part-time as a barber, and Angelo Pesci, a forklift driver for General Motors and bartender. By the time Pesci was 5, he was appearing in plays in New York. A few years later, at 10, he was a regular on a television variety show called "Startime Kids," which also featured Connie Francis. He started out working as a barber in the 1960s, following in his mother's footsteps. He released an album entitled Little Joe Sure Can Sing under the pseudonym Joseph Richie, accompanied by a band that included good friend and future fellow actor Frank Vincent. He played guitar for Joey Dee and the Starliters, and was an extra in Dee's film "Hey, Let's Twist!", where he made his film debut.
His breakthrough as an actor came in 1980 when he co-starred alongside Robert De Niro, who plays the lead role of boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, for which he won the BAFTA Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer to Leading Film Roles in 1981. Subsequently, he performed with De Niro in the films Once Upon A Time In America (in which he was cast at the behest of his friend De Niro), Goodfellas (for which he received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1990), and Casino. The pairing became famous enough to inspire a recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live, called "The Joe Pesci Show". (The real Pesci and De Niro would eventually make a surprise appearance in one episode). Pesci hosted Saturday Night Live on October 10, 1992. During the monologue, he restored a picture of Pope John Paul II, which was torn by Sinéad O'Connor on the previous broadcast.
He co-starred in Home Alone (1990), playing one of two bumbling burglars (along with good friend, Daniel Stern) who attempt to rob the house of the character played by Macaulay Culkin. He also had roles in JFK (as David Ferrie) and My Cousin Vinny (as the title character) released in 1991 and 1992 respectively. He appeared as Leo Getz in three Lethal Weapon films.
In 1998, he released an album called Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You which spawned the single "Wise Guy". 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 is slated to star in the 2009 drama Love Ranch, alongside Dame Helen Mirren.
He is one of the producers of the hit Broadway Musical Jersey Boys. The musical is based on the lives of the musical group, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Pesci claims to have been present during the formation of the group as a young man and is portrayed as a character in the play.