VING RHAMES Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Irving Rameses Rhames                                                           
Born: 12 May 1959 New York, New York, United States                                   
Irving Rameses "Ving" Rhames (born May 12, 1959) is a Golden Globe-winning           
American actor.                                                                       
Rhames was born in New York City, New York to African-American parents Reatha, a     
homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic. He was named after retired           
NBC journalist Irving R. Levine and grew up in Harlem, Manhattan. A good             
student, Ving entered New York's School of Performing Arts, where he discovered       
his love of acting. After high school he studied drama at SUNY Purchase where he     
met fellow actor Stanley Tucci, who gave him his nickname "Ving". He later           
transferred to Juilliard, where he began his career in New York theater.             
Rhames first appeared on Broadway in the play The Winter Boys in 1984. Ving           
continued his rise to fame through his work in soap operas. He found work as a       
supporting actor, and came to the attention of the general public by playing the     
role of Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994). Rhames also was getting public     
exposure on television as Peter Benton's brother on the medical drama ER, a           
recurring role he filled for 3 seasons. Not long after, Rhames was cast with Tom     
Cruise as the ace computer hacker Luther Stickell in Brian de Palma's Mission:       
Impossible (1996). With solid performances in two of these highly popular             
productions, his face was now known to moviegoers, and the work offers began         
rolling in more frequently.                                                           
Rhames portrayed the Character of Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones in the popular film     
Con Air (1997).                                                                       
Rhames won a Golden Globe in 1998 for best actor in a TV miniseries for his           
performance in HBO's Don King: Only in America. At the ceremony Rhames gave his       
award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon, saying "I feel that being an artist is           
about giving, and I'd like to give this to you." Lemmon was clearly touched by       
the gesture as was the celebrity audience who gave Lemmon a standing ovation.         
Lemmon, who tried unsuccessfully to give the award back to Rhames said it was " 
of the sweetest moments I've ever known in my life." The Hollywood Foreign Press     
Association announced later that they would have a duplicate award prepared for       
Rhames. That moment was #98 on E!'s 101 Awesome Moments in Entertainment.             
Rhames contributed attention-grabbing performances in Striptease (1996 as the         
wisecracking bodyguard Shad), Bringing Out the Dead (1999), reprised his Luther       
Stickell role for Mission: Impossible II (2000), playing Johnnie Cochran in           
American Tragedy (2000), portraying a gay drag queen in the television movie         
Holiday Heart, contributed his deep bass voice for the character of Cobra             
Bubbles in Lilo & Stitch (2002) and the subsequent TV series, and played a stoic     
cop fighting cannibal zombie hordes in Dawn of the Dead (2004) and in the             
upcoming Day of the Dead 2008 remake. Rhames has also appeared in a series of         
television commercials for Radio Shack, usually performing with Vanessa L.           
Williams. A keen fitness and weight-lifting enthusiast, Rhames is also well           
known for his strong spiritual beliefs and benevolent attitude toward other           
In March 2005, Rhames played the lead role on a new "Kojak" series, on the USA       
Network cable channel (and on ITV4 in the UK). The bald head, lollipops, and "Who     
loves ya, baby?" catchphrase remained intact, but little else remained from the       
Savalas original.                                                                     
Rhames also voiced the part of Tobias Jones in the computer game DRIV3R. In 2006,     
Rhames reprised his role in Mission: Impossible III, making him the only actor       
besides Tom Cruise to appear in all three Mission: Impossible films, and was         
announced that he would have a role in the Aquaman based show Mercy Reef. In the     
integrating of The WB and UPN for the new network, CW, Mercy Reef was not picked     
up. It is an early contender for a midseason replacement, but currently no plans     
to air the series have been announced. Rhames played a homosexual, possibly also     
homicidal, firefighter who comes out of the closet in I Now Pronounce You Chuck       
and Larry. He also narrates the BET television series American Gangster.             
Rhames, along with a production team, are looking into a project to film a           
biopic of the boxer, Sonny Liston.                                                   
On August 3, 2007, a caretaker at Rhames' Los Angeles home was found dead on the     
property after being mauled by dogs, authorities said. Four dogs were removed         
from the home after the attack, but police believe only two of them both             
weighing about 200 pounds were involved in the attack. A police spokesman said       
the victim, in his 40s and a caretaker at the residence for about two years,         
could have had a heart attack, since none of the wounds on his arms and legs         
only appear to have been life threatening. They speculate that he was possibly       
trying to get away from the dogs after a confrontation.                               
According to, police say the dogs are very friendly, and police are           
not aware of any previous problems. Los Angeles County ordinances limit               
homeowners to only three dogs per household without further permits. Rhames           
is not expected to have charges filed against him in what police called a "pure       
accident." Rhames wasn't home at the time of the incident because he was in           
Bulgaria shooting The Tournament.                                                     
Celebrity news site reported that in a 1999 Los Angeles Times             
article Rhames was quoted as owning a "slave dog" at the time. "The dog was           
actually bred to guard slaves," Rhames said. "It was the only dog they found         
that had the temperament to guard a slave. It could be around you every day, but     
if you tried to run away, it would deal with you like it never saw you before."       
In that same article, the actor told the Times that he owned five mastiffs and       
later in a 2001 Time article, he said he owned eight Fila Brasileiro mastiffs,       
large, powerful dogs used by Marines in warfare.                                     
On August 17, Coroners announced that although they aren't completely ruling it       
out, the victim most likely did not die from the abrasions and lacerations he         
sustained in the attack, although the attack itself could have been the cause of     
the heart attack. Final results are due in about 6 weeks after a toxicology test     
can be completed. Forty-year-old Jacob Adams funeral was held on August 18.