Joseph Frank Pesci was born on February 9, 1943, in Newark, New Jersey. At just five years old, Pesci was appearing in plays in New York. Five years later, Joe was cast as a regular on a television variety show called Startime Kids, which also featured Connie Francis. Before pursuing a career in acting, Pesci followed in his mother’s footsteps and worked as a barber in the ’60s. During this time, he was also trying to start a music career. He played guitar with bands like Joey Dee and the Starliters. In 1968, he released his debut album, Little Joe Sure Can Sing! under the name Joe Ritchie). Pesci’s album consists of covers of contemporary pop hits like “Holiday” and “To Love Somebody.” He was also friends with the members of the Four Seasons (and you can see more about that in the film Jersey Boys).
Pesci’s Acting Journey
A decade later, Pesci later joined Frank Vincent in a comedy duo, performing as “Vincent and Pesci.” In 1976, he and Vincent were cast in his first film, a 1976 low-budget crime flick called The Death Collector. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro were impressed by his performance in the film and offered him his first big role in Scorsese’s Raging Bull. Before they persuaded him to take the role, Pesci had been on the verge of giving up his faltering acting career. With 46 acting credits below his belt, we are glad Pesci didn’t give up on acting. He is known for playing short-tempered and violent characters, but his co-stars have always spoken fondly of him and described him as soft-spoken and humble. His foul-mouth on and off screen made Home Alone director Chris Columbus place a Swear Jar for the adult actors to use whenever they cursed. Supposedly, Pesci filled it up in a single day.
Take a look below at our favorite Joe Pesci movies: