Becoming a mob movie marvel — The career of actor Frank Vincent
Frank Vincent, noted New Jersey actor who rather forcefully suggested to Joe Pesci’s character in Goodfellas that he go home and get his shinebox, was born on April 15, 1937. While he was born in Massachusetts, Frank was raised in Jersey City.
Although he rose to fame as an actor, Frank started off his show business career as a musician, performing in a band with Joe Pesci. When their music careers fizzled, the two put together a comedy show, performing as “Vincent and Pesci” from 1970-76. Vincent then got a role in a small budget gangster film called The Death Collector with Pesci and they both were spotted by Robert DeNiro who told his frequent collaborator, director Martin Scorsese, about the pair. That led to a role in the film, Raging Bull with DeNiro and Pesci, and he was on his way to a successful acting career.
Possibly his most famous movie role came in 1990, when he appeared as gangster Billy Batts, a “made man” in the film Goodfellas. He torments Pesci’s character by reminding him of his humble beginnings as a shoeshine boy, angering him by telling him to go home and get his f****** shine box. Pesci’s character attacks him and ultimately kills him, putting him on the path to his own demise.
He continued to work steadily, starring again with Pesci and DeNiro in Scorsese’s Casino among other projects. He had another star turn in the HBO drama, The Sopranos, playing Phil Leotardo, Tony Soprano’s nemesis.
He was also the voice of a gangster in the video game Grand Theft Auto. He died in 2017 at age 78 in Nutley.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.