12 may, 1959
Strikingly featured and muscular African American actor who was born and raised in Harlem, New York. Irving "Ving" Rhames had studied dramatic arts at the New York High School of Performing Arts and then at the Julliard School of Drama. After graduating from Julliard, Rhames went on to perform in Shakespeare in the Park productions. In 1984, he appeared in front of the camera's for the first time in the TV movie "American Playhouse: Go Tell It on the Mountain (#4.5)" (1985), and was then quickly cast in minor roles in several popular TV shows including "Miami Vice" (1984), "Tour of Duty" (1987) and "Crime Story" (1986). In a remarkable turn of events, whilst filming The Saint of Fort Washington (1993) in New York, he was introduced to a homeless man, who turned out to be his long lost, older brother, Junior, who had lost contact with the family after serving in Vietnam. The thrilled Rhames immediately assisted his disheveled brother in getting proper food & clothing, and moving him into his own apartment.
His next big break came in 1994 when director Quentin Tarantino cast him as the merciless drug dealer Marsellus Wallace in the mega hit Pulp Fiction (1994). Not long after, director Brian De Palma cast Rhames alongside Tom Cruise as the ace computer hacker, Luther Stickell in Mission: Impossible (1996). With solid performances in both these highly popular productions, his face was now well known to movie goers, and the work offers began rolling in more frequently.
The next career highlight was playing the lead role in the HBO production of Don King: Only in America (1997) (TV). Rhames' performance as the world's most infamous boxing promoter was nothing short of brilliant, and at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards he picked up the award for Best Actor in a MiniSeries. However, in an incredible display of compassion, he handed over the award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon, as he felt Lemmon was a more deserving winner!
The talented actor then contributed attention grabbing performances in Bringing Out the Dead (1999), returned as Luther Stickell in Mission: Impossible II (2000), contributed his deep bass voice for the character of Cobra Bubbles in Lilo & Stitch (2002), and played a burly cop fighting cannibal zombie hordes in Dawn of the Dead (2004). A keen fitness & weight lifting enthusiast, Rhames is also well known for his strong spiritual beliefs and benevolent attitude towards other people.