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Joe Pantoliano

Joe Pantoliano

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Also Known As: Joey Pants, Joseph Pantoliano, Joseph Peter Pantoliano Died:
Born: September 12, 1951 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Hoboken, New Jersey, USA Profession: actor, waiter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Having transcended a youth of urban poverty, crime and poor academic skills, actor Joe Pantoliano â¿¿ sometimes known affectionately as Joey Pants due to his hard-to-pronounce Italian surname â¿¿ transformed himself into a prominent and prolific character performer who went on to appear in some of Hollywoodâ¿¿s biggest films. After knocking around the New York theater scene, Pantoliano broke into television after moving to Los Angeles. Though remaining busy, he took some time to truly establish himself. His moment arrived when he played Guido the Pimp in the Tom Cruise vehicle, "Risky Business" (1983), which helped him gain a degree of recognition. From there, he became known for playing low-level crooks and hustlers in movies and on television until he transitioned to the other side of the law with a memorable supporting turn as a deputy U.S. Marshal in "The Fugitive" (1993). Perhaps some of his more acclaimed roles came in the indie world, thanks to solid turns in inventive films like "Bound" (1996) and "Memento" (2000). He did, however, reached some level of mass appeal as a co-star in the blockbuster movie "The Matrix" (1999), while his performance as a hot-headed mob lieutenant on "The Sopranos"...

Having transcended a youth of urban poverty, crime and poor academic skills, actor Joe Pantoliano â¿¿ sometimes known affectionately as Joey Pants due to his hard-to-pronounce Italian surname â¿¿ transformed himself into a prominent and prolific character performer who went on to appear in some of Hollywoodâ¿¿s biggest films. After knocking around the New York theater scene, Pantoliano broke into television after moving to Los Angeles. Though remaining busy, he took some time to truly establish himself. His moment arrived when he played Guido the Pimp in the Tom Cruise vehicle, "Risky Business" (1983), which helped him gain a degree of recognition. From there, he became known for playing low-level crooks and hustlers in movies and on television until he transitioned to the other side of the law with a memorable supporting turn as a deputy U.S. Marshal in "The Fugitive" (1993). Perhaps some of his more acclaimed roles came in the indie world, thanks to solid turns in inventive films like "Bound" (1996) and "Memento" (2000). He did, however, reached some level of mass appeal as a co-star in the blockbuster movie "The Matrix" (1999), while his performance as a hot-headed mob lieutenant on "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1999-2007) earned him his first Emmy Award, making him a steady and often-sought-after character actor capable of elevating just about any project.

Born on Sept. 12, 1954 in Hoboken, NJ, Pantoliano grew up on welfare in a public housing project and was raised by his father, Dominic, a hearse driver, and his mother, Mary, a bookie. Reading at a third grade level at age 17, Pantoliano decided that acting was a way out of a life that seemed destined to lead to criminal behavior. Because of his limited comprehension skills, he had to memorize his scenes just to audition. But his resilience paid off, as both his literacy and confidence increased. Pantoliano soon moved to Manhattan where he waited tables while studying acting under Herbert Bergoff at the HB Studio. He eventually switched over to study under John Lehne, with whom he stayed for 10 years. Meanwhile, Pantoliano made his stage debut in 1968 and was noted for a performance as Billy Bibbit in a production of "One Flew Over the Cuckooâ¿¿s Nest" (1972). In 1976, he made his way to Los Angeles, where he began to find work on television sitcoms, starting with an appearance as band member Frankie in the failed pilot for "McNamaraâ¿¿s Band" (ABC, 1977).

Pantoliano first started to gain attention following his performance in the television miniseries version of "From Here to Eternity" (NBC, 1979), in which he played Angelo Maggio, the role essayed by fellow Hoboken native Frank Sinatra in the 1953 film. After appearing as a guest star on shows like "Hart to Hart" (ABC, 1979-1984) and "M*A*S*H" (CBS, 1972-1983), while having supporting roles in movies such as "The Final Terror" (1983), Pantoliano finally made himself known in "Risky Business" (1983) as the comical, but menacing Guido the Pimp who threatens teenager Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) after being crossed by him. The actor balanced regular work in film and on television, mainly in strong supporting roles as wisecracking detectives and criminals. Following a role as Francis, the bumbling criminal outwitted by a bunch of kids in "The Goonies" (1985), Pantoliano delivered a solid performance as the ruthless anti-Communist attorney and RFK nemesis Roy Cohn in the miniseries "Robert Kennedy and His Times" (CBS, 1987). He was John Malkovich's long-suffering sidekick in Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" (1987), while turning in a memorable performance as the slippery bail bondsman, Eddie Moscone, in "Midnight Run" (1988).

As the 1980s began to wind down, Pantoliano appeared as a supporting player in a series of rather forgettable movies that included "The In Crowd" (1988), "Downtown" (1989) and "Short Time" (1990). Following a co-starring role in "The Fanellis Boys" (ABC, 1990-91), a short-lived sitcom about a widowed Italian-American matriarch (Ann Morgan Guilbert) living with her four adult sons, Pantoliano took part in a critical and commercial hit as Cosmo, one of Tommy Lee Jones' U.S. marshals in "The Fugitive" (1993). He once again played a pimp in "Three of Hearts" (1993), only this time to a male prostitute (William Baldwin), which he followed with a turn as one of three bumbling would-be kidnappers in "Babyâ¿¿s Day Out" (1994). Back on television, he appeared on "The Marshal" (ABC, 1994-96) and played the double-crossing snitch Vinnie Greco in several season two episodes of "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005). In the fall of 1996, he played the shady Jimmy Murtha in the gritty crime drama, "EZ Streets" (CBS, 1996-97), created by Paul Haggis.

Returning to the big screen, Pantoliano played a frightening money launderer for the mob whose mistress (Jennifer Tilly) hatches a plot with her new lesbian lover (Gina Gershon) to rob him of $2 million in the cult favorite, "Bound" (1996). After reprising his role of Deputy Marshal Renfro in the sequel "U.S. Marshals" (1998), Pantoliano had his biggest box-office hit as the traitorous renegade Cypher in the blockbuster "The Matrix" (1999), which starred Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishbourne and Carrie-Ann Moss. The busy actor reunited with Moss on his next film, "Memento" (2000), playing a seedy cop who manipulates Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), a former insurance fraud investigator who suffers from anterograde amnesia. In 2001, he joined the cast of "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1999-2007), playing the hotheaded, loudmouthed mob lieutenant Ralph Cifaretto, who becomes a major thorn in the side of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). Pantoliano's adroit portrayal made Ralphie a love-to-hate-him character and at last had audiences connecting that well-known face to a now recognizable name. Meanwhile, he ventured into the video game world, voicing Luigi Goterelli in "Grand Theft Auto III" (2001).

After his "Sopranos" tenure came to a memorable end in 2002, Pantoliano next essayed Ben Urich, the dogged reporter on the trail of the secret identity of the super hero "Daredevil" (2003), before reprising his previous role as police captain Howard, comic foil to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the sequel "Bad Boys 2." That same year, after winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for "The Sopranos," Pantoliano held down a starring role as an FBI agent tasked with training fresh-faced undercover officers on the short-lived drama series, "The Handler" (CBS, 2003-04). Following a co-starring role on the equally brief series "Dr. Vegas" (CBS, 2004), he voiced Goose in "Racing Stripes" (2005) and played a mayor duped into allowing a reckless restaurant health inspector (Larry the Cable Guy) to take on an important case in "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" (2006). The ever-busy actor joined "Sopranos" co-star Michael Imperioli to voice characters on a season 18 episode of "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ). Following a supporting turn in the made-for-television movie "Deceit" (Lifetime, 2006), he starred as a struggling construction worker raising his son (Devon Gearhart) with his schizophrenic wife (Marcia Gay Harden) in the low-budget indie, "Canvas" (2007). After some time spent out of the spotlight, Pantoliano returned to voice a character in the sequel, "Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore" (2010).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Identical, The (2014)
2.
 Job, The (2010)
5.
 Deadly Impact (2010)
6.
 Canvas (2006)
7.
 Unknown (2006)
8.
 Wedding Daze (2006)
10.
 Deceit (2006)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1968:
Made professional stage debut on the New York stage at age 17
1972:
Portrayed Billy Bibbit in a stage production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
1976:
Moved to Los Angeles
1978:
Had a recurring role in the summer replacement series, "Free Country" (ABC); co-star Rob Reiner also co-scripted and co-produced
1978:
Re-teamed with Rob Reiner for the TV-movie, "More Than Friends"
1979:
Gained notice for his interpretation of Angelo Maggio - Frank Sinatra's role in the original - for the NBC miniseries, "From Here to Eternity"
1980:
Feature acting debut, "The Idolmaker"
1983:
Originated the lead role of Philip in "Orphans" at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles, CA
1983:
Breakthrough feature, played the supporting role of Guido 'The Killer Pimp' in the surprise hit, "Risky Business"
1985:
Played the villainous Francis Fratelli in "The Gooonies"; produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Richard Donner
1987:
Portrayed anti-Communist attorney Roy Cohn in the CBS miniseries, "Robert Kennedy and His Times"
1987:
Played John Malkovich's sidekick in the Steven Spielberg directed, "Empire of the Sun"
1987:
Played Ritchie Valens' manager in the biopic, "La Bamba"
1990:
Cast as a regular in the short-lived NBC sitcom, "The Fanelli Boys"
1993:
Portrayed Agent Cosmo Renfro in the thriller, "The Fugitive"
1994:
Played Captain Howard, opposite Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, in Michael Bay's "Bad Boys"
1995:
Played the recurring role of stoolie Vinnie Greco on ABC's "NYPD Blue"
1996:
Cast as a regular on the CBS crime drama, "EZ Streets"
1996:
Played Jennifer Tilly's gangster lover in "Bound"; directed by the Wachowski brothers
1998:
Reprised role of Cosmo Renfro in "U.S. Marshals"
1999:
Re-teamed with the Wachowski brothers to play renegade Cypher in "The Matrix"
2000:
Played a slightly mysterious figure shadowing a man who cannot form new memories in Christopher Nolan's stylish thriller, "Memento"
2000:
Joined the cast of HBO's "The Sopranos" as mob hothead Ralph Cifaretto
2001:
Appeared in two episodes of the WB's teen sci-fi series, "Roswell"
2002:
Featured in the Eddie Murphy misfire, "The Adventures of Pluto Nash"
2003:
Reprised role as Cypher in "The Matrix: Reloaded"
2003:
Reprised role as Captain Howard for the sequel, "Bad Boys 2"
2003:
Feature directorial debut, "Just Like Mona"
2003:
Starred in the short-lived CBS series, "The Handler"
2005:
Played a recurring role on the short-lived NBC drama, "Dr. Vegas"
2005:
Voiced Goose, a former mob hitman pelican, in the animated feature "Racing Stripes"
2009:
Co-starred in the independent dark comedy, "The Job"
2010:
Cast as Gabe Ugliano, Percy's mean stepfather, in the film adaptation of "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"
2010:
Voiced the character of Peek the Chinese crested dog in "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," the sequel to the 2001 family film "Cats & Dogs"
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Education

HB Studio: New York , New York -

Notes

Some sources list 1951 as the year of his birth.

Pantoliano is co-owner of the Grand Havana Room, a cigar lounge in Beverly Hills.

"At seventeen, I had a third-grade reading level. I was headed for a life as a dope dealer or a crook. Then I discovered acting. Whaddaya know? I could PLAY drug dealers and crooks." --Joe Pantoliano quoted in "Rushes: Thuggin' for the Camera" by Cindy Pearlman, Premiere, August 1994.

"But Pantoliano attacked his dream with all the scrappy tenacity at his command--which, as it turns out, was quite a bit. Years later he told some college acting students how to do it: 'First thing you do is quit college, get your money back, go to New York, find someone from Actors Equity that's got an expired card,' he said. 'Put your picture on it, get a resume, find out what theaters went out of business, and say you did two seasons there. They can't check up on you. These are the things you have to do to get in the door.'"

"Pantoliano PUSHED. 'I'm a breech-birth type of actor,' he says. 'Some people, things come easy to them, it falls right in their laps, but with me I gotta move and shake and scheme and think and plan and work my butt off to get the jobs.'" --From "Cameos: Joe Pantoliano" by John H. Richardson, Premiere, December 1989.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Morga Kester. Had been married in 1979 and divorced in 1985.
wife:
Nancy Sheppard. Model. Married on February 18, 1994; mother of his two daughters.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Dominic Pantoliano. Hearse driver. Separated from Pantoliano's mother c. 1963; divorced.
mother:
Mary Isabella. Bookie. Separated from Pantoliano's father c. 1963; divorced.
step-father:
Florio Isabella. Had ties to the underworld; spent 15 years in jail on drug trafficking charges before marrying Pantoliano's mother.
sister:
Mary Ann Pantoliano. Younger.
step-daughter:
Melody. Born c. 1985 mother, Nancy Sheppard.
son:
Marco Pantoliano. Sportscaster. Born c. 1981; mother, first wife.
daughter:
Daniella Pantoliano. Born on March 8, 1992; mother, Nancy Sheppard.
daughter:
Isabella Grace Pantoliano. Born on August 27, 1998; mother, Nancy Sheppard.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Who's Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy"

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