Vinny Vella Sr.
One of Hollywood's old standbys for playing imposing, street-smart Italian-American hoods, Vinny Vella grew up in New York's Little Italy and dreamed of movie stardom from a young age; he entered show business via a back door, by founding and running the company Star Truckers, designed to provide transportation to Hollywood A-listers. Vella's related presence on movie sets, in turn, encouraged directors to begin summoning him for walk-ons and bit parts, including a small role as a driver in Spike Lee's comedy drama Girl 6 (1996); also in the mid-'90s, Martin Scorsese recruited Vella as one of the main characters, ill-fated stoolie Artie Piscano, in his epic crime drama Casino. On the side, Vella also made guest appearances on MTV's House of Style, which also expanded his résumé and gave him added audience recognition. Additional movie projects included Jane Campion's In the Cut (2003), Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), and lead billing opposite Ty Jones and Connie in the action thriller Holla at Me. Meanwhile, Vella also teamed up with ESPN to do over 30 commercial spots for Monday Night Baseball.