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Harvey Keitel was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1939. His parents were Romanian and Polish Jewish immigrants. He joined the Marines at 16, and when he got out, he became a court reporter, and he held that job for nearly ten years! But what he really wanted to do was to become an actor, and he studied under both Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, but he had very limited success until he was 34! He had a role in Martin Scorsese's student film, Who's That Knocking at My Door, in 1967, but his first real success was in Scorsese's Mean Streets in 1973. But while co-star Robert De Niro went on to immediate success, Keitel had limited success, although he had memorable roles in Taxi Driver, Welcome to L.A., The Duellists, Blue Collar, and Fingers (this is one of my favorite films of the 1970s!). He rapidly become known as someone who only took odd offbeat roles in odd offbeat movies, often by new directors, and he mostly continued this in the 1980s, mostly playing secondary roles. His career had a major resurgence in 1992, when he played a major role in Reservoir Dogs, and followed with the lead in Bad Lieutenant and The Piano, and an important supporting role in Pulp Fiction. But through it all, he stayed true to himself, playing very few commericial roles in mainstream movies. He was married to Lorraine Bracco for over a decade, and they have a child, and he has two other children by two other women. While many of his movies can be quite dark and violent, and some can be downright repellent, I think few people could dispute that Harvey Keitel is a wonderful actor who has delivered many great performances. And if you like ultra-gritty film noir movies, I suggest you seek out Fingers, a really fascinating movie by James Toback, where Keitel is a mobster's son torn between his father's profession and that urged on him by his genteel mother, as a concert pianist! As of 2021, he is still alive at the age of 82!
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