Joe Pesci will celebrate his 77th birthday on February 9, 2020. In semi-retirement for most of this century, he triumphantly reunited with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro for “The Irishman,” which brought him an Oscar bid as Best Supporting Actor.
Pesci started his career at a very young age, appearing on the New York Stage before he even turned five. By the time he was ten years old, he was a regular on a television show called “Startime Kids.” In his teen years he lost interest in acting and instead started trying to launch a career as a musician. Despite releasing a record of his own his musical career didn’t really take off but he did play an instrumental part in the creation of the highly successful musical act Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Pesci was friends with Valli and other members of the group and he introduced them to the person that would launch their success.
He then teamed with another actor and tried the stand-up comedy circuit. The duo would also co-star in a low budget film that somehow attracted the attention of Scorsese and De Niro. Those two cast him in “Raging Bull” (1980) which would land all three of them Oscar nominations. Pesci would lose that award but would win 10 years later for his work in another Scorsese/De Niro film, “Goodfellas” (1990).
He would go on to have a highly successful run for the next 20 years in films but then around 1998, he unofficially seemed to retire from the movie business. In those years he only appeared in one less than successful film with Helen Mirren, “Love Ranch” (2010), and in a cameo in a film directed by De Niro, “The Good Shepard” (2006). He returned to work with De Niro and Scorsese in another Mafia film about the murder of union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), the Netflix release “The Irishman” (2019), which earned him rave reviews and a third Oscar nomination.
To celebrate Pesci’s birthday, tour our photo gallery above of his 11 greatest film performances, ranked from worst to best. In addition to the movies mentioned above, we include “Home Alone,” “My Cousin Vinny” and more.