Alfredo James Pacino was born to a family of Italian immigrants in East Harlem, New York, on the 25th of April, 1940, his grandparents having crossed the Atlantic from Sicily.
His father, Salvatore, was an insurance agent who split from Alfredo’s mother Rose when the boy was just two. Rose and her child moved in with her parents in then a dirt-poor area near the Bronx zoo.
As an only child, he was zealously protected by his grandparents, hardly leaving the house till the age of seven. When he was older, his mother would take him to the cinema (he was terribly hurt when she died young in 1962) and he would act out the plotlines to his grandma on his return. Shy and insular, he would impress his school-mates with a fictional past he had invented for himself, claiming for instance that he had been raised in Texas.
Thankfully, his teachers spotted his talent, cast him in school plays and asked him to read from the Bible at assembly. He enjoyed this but did not consider acting as a profession till, at age 14, he saw Chekov’s The Seagull performed at the Elsmere Theatre in the South Bronx. This led to him enrolling at the prestigious High School of the Performing Arts but, flunking everything but English, he eventually, at 17, dropped out.
Despite his failure to graduate from High School, his ambition to act grew stronger day by day. He worked ceaselessly at a string of low-grade jobs, including messenger boy, busboy, janitor and postal clerk, in order to finance his acting studies.
Eventually, Al would become an iconic film and stage actor and director. He is famous for playing mobsters, including Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, Tony Montana in Scarface, Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice in Dick Tracy and Carlito Brigante in Carlito’s Way, though he has also appeared several times on the other side of the law — as a police officer, detective and a lawyer. His role as Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman won him the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992 after receiving seven previous Oscar nominations.
Although he has never married, Pacino has had several relationships with actresses and has three children.