Joe Pesci was born on February 9, 1943 in Newark, New Jersey. He started his acting career at an early age, starring in radio plays and a television program called "Star Time Kids". He tried his hand at music in his early twenties, recording a record album under the name "Joe Ritchie" and playing the guitar in a pop group called Joey D and the Starliters. His song "My Cousin Vinny" turned out to be a hit in Europe at the time. He also tried his hand at comedy, forming a partnership with his friend Frank Vincent to perform stand up at night clubs.
His first big role in a movie was as Joe in "Family Enforcer", a low budget mafia movie also starring Frank Vincent. The film didn't do very well, but it caught the eye of rising director Martin Scorsese. Pesci was given the very important role of Joey La Motta in Raging Bull alongside Robert De Niro and Frank Vincent. The film was a huge hit and is now known as one of the greatest films of all time. Pesci gained worldwide attention for his role, being nominated for an Oscar, and was cast in a number of unsuccessful movies over the next few years until he was given a small role in Sergio Leone's epic "Once Upon a Time in America".
Pesci's next several roles were small and didn't give him much attention until he was cast as Leo Getz in Lethal Weapon 2 in 1989. The film was a big box office success and helped to make Pesci a major figure in Hollywood. 1990 was another big year, with him being cast as Tommy DeVito in Scorsese's "Goodfellas", a movie based on the true story of Henry Hill's life. The movie reunited him with Robert de Niro and Frank Vincent, while showing Pesci's on screen chemistry with newcomer Ray Liotta. The movie was a huge success and garnered Pesci an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
That year, he also starred in Home Alone as Harry, an idiotic burglar. Harry and his partner Marv try to rob a house inhabited by young Macaulay Culkin, who successfully defends the house and causes the two a lot of injury. The film was a big box office success and gave Joe Pesci even more attention as an actor.
The nineties were very good to Pesci, getting him roles in two more Lethal Weapon movies, and the Home Alone sequel. His most notable role was likely that of Nicky Santoro in Martin Scorsese's "Casino", a portrayal of the lives of Anthony Spilotro and Frank Rosenthal. Pesci starred with Robert de Niro and the film became a huge success in the box office and with critics.
His next several movies included two comedies, "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" and "Gone Fishin'", which were successful, yet nothing remarkable. His last movie was the fourth Lethal Weapon, where he showed a little of Leo Getz's sensitive side. The movie wasn't as successful as the first three, but it did mildly well in the box office. Since then, Pesci has not been active in the film industry, but is still known as one of the most energetic and violent actors of all time.