Birthplace: Flushing, NY
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Film Director
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Taxi Driver
As a child, Scorsese was raised in New York's Little Italy neighborhood. He had a bad case of asthma, few friends, and his one hobby was going to the movies alone, or watching movies on TV. Raised strictly Catholic, he almost became a priest, and actually spent a semester at seminary before changing his mind. Attending New York University's film school, Scorsese started making short films that were darker, more cynical, more personal and more challenging than typical Hollywood fare.
His first feature was a very independent effort, Who's That Knocking at My Door?, full of odd camera angles, and starring Harvey Keitel in his first speaking role, as an working-class New Yorker falling in love with a woman clearly much more intelligent than he is. Scorsese screened Who's That Knocking at the Chicago Film Festival, and got only one offer to distribute the film, on the condition that Scorsese add a sex scene. Scorsese complied.
Working for Roger Corman, he made what could have been a schlocky action movie -- Boxcar Bertha, with Barbara Hershey and David Carradine -- into something much more substantial. Encouraged by pal John Cassavetes, Scorsese wrote and directed the gut-raw, yet almost operatic Mean Streets, with Robert De Niro and Keitel again.
Francis Ford Coppola reportedly recommended that Warner Bros hire Scorsese to make the bittersweet drama Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More, with Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson. The film was Scorsese's first commercial success, won Burstyn an Oscar, and was eventually the basis for a funny but vastly inferior sitcom, Alice, with Linda Lavin and Vic Tayback. Scorsese had nothing to do with the sitcom.
Over subsequent decades, Scorsese has repeatedly found critical and popular success, made some of the great films of his time, and often courted controversy by treating audiences as adults. He cast Disney's child star Jodie Foster as a 12-year-old prostitute in Taxi Driver, and made a psychotic De Niro the nominal protagonist in that film. Casting De Niro again, he made boxer/thug Jake LaMotta into a sympathetic, almost mythic character in Raging Bull, often mentioned as among the finest films of all time.
Scorsese confounded audiences with a dark comedy about media obsession, The King of Comedy, wherein De Niro kidnapped talk show host Jerry Lewis in a gamble for fame. He followed that with the Kafkaesque comedy After Hours, putting Griffin Dunne and an all-star supporting cast through a bizarre, sleepless night in New York.
Desperate and out-of-control individuals have often been the driving force of Scorsese's work, but when he painted Jesus Christ as another such character, Scorsese was scorned and The Last Temptation of Christ was picketed. It is ironic, since Paul Schrader's screenplay and Willem Dafoe's performance made perhaps the most honestly Christlike portrayal of Jesus ever filmed.
The Last Waltz, Scorsese's concert film chronicling the break-up of The Band, is one of the first rockumentaries and still one of the best. The Band delivers "Up on Cripple Creek", "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", and other bits of rock perfection, while "guest" performers include Bob Dylan singing "Forever Young", Van Morrison doing "Caravan", Emmylou Harris performing "Evangeline", Neil Young doing "Helpless", and even Neil Diamond singing "Dry Your Eyes", all with The Band playing back-up.
Goodfellas is another Scorsese title that often appears on best-ever lists. "You know," said Ray Liotta as gangster Henry Hill, "we always called each other goodfellas. Like, you'd say to somebody, 'You're gonna like this guy; he's all right. He's a goodfella. He's one of us.' You understand? We were goodfellas, wiseguys." The film has been studied in film schools for its power and cinematic technique. It was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, but only Joe Pesci won, for Best Supporting Actor.
For the longest time, Scorsese had never won an Oscar, though many of his lesser efforts -- among them Cape Fear, Casino, Kundun, Gangs of New York, and The Aviator -- would be any other director's masterpiece. He has been nominated five times as Best Director and twice for Best Screenplay. In 2007, he was finally recognized by the Academy as Best Director for The Departed.
He was also co-founder and long-time president of The Film Foundation, a group working to rescue and restore early films, which are rapidly deteriorating and will otherwise soon be lost.
Scorsese's Gangs of New York was filmed before September 11 but released afterwards. It told the story of the city's earliest days, but ended with images of its modern-day skyline, including the World Trade Center. Several other films in production at the time, including Spiderman, Zoolander, and Serendipity, used CGI technology to edit out the towers. Even on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the Manhattan skyline backdrop was covered with a curtain until a new backdrop could be constructed without the World Trade Center.
Scorsese, of course, made the opposite choice, and left the skyline intact. "From the first draft of the script, that was the way it ended, with the modern skyline of New York being built. It had to end with that, or the movie shouldn't have existed. We did the paintings and edited that skyline sequence before September 11, and afterwards it was suggested that we should take out the towers, but I felt that was not the right way to go. It's not my job to revise the New York skyline. The people in the film and the people of New York, good, bad, and indifferent, were part of the creation of that skyline, not the destruction of it. And if the skyline collapses, ultimately, they will build another one."
His mother cooked for the cast and crew of Scorsese's early movies. Her recipe for a great spaghetti sauce is in the closing credits of his 1974 documentary about his parents, Italianamerican.
Father: Luciano Charles Scorsese (garment worker, b. 1913, d. 23-Aug-1993)
Mother: Catherine (Cappa) Scorsese (garment worker, b. 16-Apr-1912, d. 6-Jan-1997 Alzheimer's)
Brother: Frank Scorsese (b. 1936)
Wife: Laraine Brennan (m. 15-May-1965, div., one daughter)
Daughter: Catherine Scorsese (film industry, b. 7-Dec-1965)
Girlfriend: Sandy Weintraub (producer, together 1971-75)
Wife: Julia Cameron (writer, m. , div.)
Daughter: Domenica Cameron-Scorsese (b. 6-Sep-1976)
Girlfriend: Liza Minnelli (singer-actress, dated 1976-77)
Wife: Isabella Rossellini (actress, m. 29-Sep-1979, div. 1983)
Wife: Barbara De Fina (producer, m. Feb-1985, div.)
Girlfriend: Illeana Douglas (actress, together late 1980s to mid-1990s)
Wife: Helen Morris (editor, Random House, m. 22-Jul-1999, one daughter)
Daughter: Francesca (b. 16-Nov-1999)
High School: Cardinal Hayes High School, Bronx, NY (1960)
University: BA English, New York University (1964)
University: MA Film, New York University (1966)
Endorsement of American Express
American Academy of Arts and Letters
American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2006
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Friends of Hillary
Green Mountain PAC
Hillary Rodham Clinton for US Senate Committee
National Film Preservation Foundation Board of Directors
Obama for America
American Film Institute Life Achievement Award 1997
Library of Congress Living Legend 2000
Golden Globe 2003, Best Director, for Gangs of New York
Oscar for Best Director 2007 for The Departed
Kennedy Center Honor 2007
Emmy 2011, Best Director, for Boardwalk Empire
Golden Globe 2012, Best Director, for Hugo
Hollywood Walk of Fame 28-Feb-2003 at 6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Risk Factors: Asthma
FILMOGRAPHY AS DIRECTOR
George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2-Sep-2011)
Public Speaking (22-Nov-2010)
Shutter Island (13-Feb-2010)
Shine a Light (7-Feb-2008)
The Departed (4-Oct-2006)
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (21-Jul-2005)
The Aviator (17-Dec-2004)
Gangs of New York (9-Dec-2002)
Bringing Out the Dead (22-Oct-1999)
My Voyage to Italy (11-Sep-1999)
Michael Jackson: Video Greatest Hits - HIStory (16-Jun-1995)
The Age of Innocence (17-Sep-1993)
Cape Fear (13-Nov-1991)
New York Stories (1-Mar-1989)
The Last Temptation of Christ (12-Aug-1988)
The Color of Money (17-Oct-1986)
After Hours (13-Sep-1985)
The King of Comedy (18-Feb-1983)
Raging Bull (14-Nov-1980)
The Last Waltz (26-Apr-1978)
New York, New York (21-Jun-1977)
Taxi Driver (8-Feb-1976)
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (9-Dec-1974)
Mean Streets (2-Oct-1973)
Boxcar Bertha (14-Jun-1972)
Who's That Knocking at My Door? (15-Nov-1967)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Bad 25 (31-Aug-2012) · Himself
Side by Side (Feb-2012) · Himself
Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project (11-Feb-2011) · Himself
Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (21-Jan-2011) · Himself
Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (5-May-2010) · Himself
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (13-Oct-2007) · Himself
Shark Tale (10-Sep-2004) · Sykes [VOICE]
Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (11-Sep-2003) · Himself
A Decade Under the Influence (19-Jan-2003) · Himself
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (18-Jan-2003) · Himself
Bringing Out the Dead (22-Oct-1999) [VOICE]
My Voyage to Italy (11-Sep-1999)
The Muse (27-Aug-1999) · Himself
With Friends Like These... (10-Sep-1998) · Himself
Search and Destroy (28-Apr-1995)
Quiz Show (14-Sep-1994) · Sponsor
Guilty by Suspicion (15-Mar-1991)
'Round Midnight (12-Sep-1986)
The King of Comedy (18-Feb-1983)
Raging Bull (14-Nov-1980) · Barbizon Stagehand
The Last Waltz (26-Apr-1978) · Himself
Taxi Driver (8-Feb-1976) · Passenger Watching Silhouette
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