Alfredo James "Al" Pacino (born April 25, 1940) is an American film and stage actor and director. He is famous for playing mobsters, including Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, Tony Montana in Scarface, Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice in Dick Tracy and Carlito Brigante in Carlito's Way, though he has also appeared several times on the other side of the law as a police officer, detective and a lawyer. His role as Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman won him the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992 after receiving seven previous Oscar nominations.
Pacino was born in East Harlem, New York City to Italian American parents Rose and Salvatore Pacino, who divorced when he was two years old. When he was two, his mother moved to the South Bronx near the Bronx Zoo, to live with her parents, Kate and James Gerardi, who originated from Corleone, Sicily. His father moved to Covina, California, and worked as an insurance salesman and restaurateur. Pacino attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in New York. During his teenage years 'Sonny', as he was known to his friends, aimed to become a baseball player, though he was also nicknamed 'The Actor'. Pacino flunked nearly all of his classes except English and dropped out of school at 17. His mother disagreed with his decision; they had an argument and he left home. He worked at a string of low-paying jobs, including messenger boy, busboy, janitor, and postal clerk, in order to finance his acting studies.
He started smoking at age nine, and began drinking and smoking marijuana at age 13, but never took hard drugs. His two closest friends died young of drug abuse at the ages of 19 and 30. Growing up in a deprived area, he got into occasional fights and was something of a troublemaker at school.
He acted in basement plays in New York's theatrical underground but was rejected for the Actors Studio while still a teenager. Pacino then joined the Herbert Berghof Studio (HB Studio), where he met acting teacher Charlie Laughton, who became his mentor and best friend. During this period, he was frequently unemployed and homeless, and sometimes had to sleep on the street, in theaters, or at friends' houses. In 1962, his mother died at the age of 43. The following year, his grandfather, James Gerardi, one of the most influential people in his life, also died.