Ving Rhames is one of the celebrated African American film artists. He is best known for his work in Pulp Fiction, Con Air, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible film series and Bringing Out the Dead. In 1998, he was awarded Golden Globe for his remarkable performance in a TV miniseries, Don King.
Ving was born Irving Rameses Rhames on May 12, 1959 in Harlem, New York City. His father, Ernest Rhames, was an auto-mechanic and mother Reather was a homemaker. Irving was named after the late NBC journalist, Irving R. Levine, who also grew up in Harlem. He received his formal education from New York’s High School of Performing Arts. There he developed a keen interest in acting. Upon graduation, he went on to study drama at SUNY Purchase. At SUNY he met now-popular actor Stanley Tucci and they both became friends. Stanely Tucci was the one who gave him the nickname ‘Ving’. Subsequently, Rhames was transferred to the Juilliard School’s Drama Division. In 1983, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drama.
In 1984, Rhames began his professional career with a Broadway play The Boys of Winter. Afterwards, he stepped into his film career with the role of Leroy in Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs. Then he played the character of Marcellus Wallas in Pulp Fiction. Later on he took up a role, in the TV medical drama ER, as Peter Benton’s brother-in-law which lasted for three seasons. Soon after he was offered a role in Brian De Palma’s action thriller, Mission Impossible (1996), in which he played the ace computer hacker Luther Stickell.
During 1998 Golden Globes awards ceremony, Rhames was presented a best TV actor award for his astounding performance in HBO’s Don King: Only in America. He surprised his audience by giving away his award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon. He explained this act of generosity as his way of sharing since that’s what being actor is about. Lemmon made an unsuccessful attempt at returning the award but Rhames stood fast on his promise. The act overwhelmed Lemmon who called it the “sweetest