Born and raised in New York City, DANNY AIELLO began acting in his mid 30's and set the tone for his career by immediately earning a Theatre World Award for his debut in Lamppost Reunion. With a reputation for no-holds-barred stage and screen performances which are brimming with honest emotion, Aiello's portrayal of Cher's jilted fiancé in Moonstruck endeared him to film audiences. As "Sal" in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing, Aiello received unanimous acclaim including Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor, and was named Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago Film Critics Associations.
Most recently, Aiello took his talents back to his first love, the stage, in the off-Broadway comedy "Adult Entertainment," written by Elaine May about the men and women of the porn industry. Aiello spearheaded a strong cast in the comedy that looks at the lighter side of the industry, more specifically at the cast who grow tired of working for others and decide to make their own film. Directed by Stanley Donen, the production opened to rave reviews December 2, 2002 at the Variety Arts Theater. A respected actor whose services are always in demand, Aiello recently received much praise for his role in the surprise hit Dinner Rush, an independent film directed by Bob Giraldi, which opened to rave reviews. The LA Times proclaimed "Danny Aiello Guarantees Prompt Service During Dinner Rush..The actor is fun to watch in this dark comedy...Danny Aiello always has warmth and a sense of security as an actor. When he has a role as perfect a fit as Louis Cropa, the proprietor of a TriBeca restaurant in Dinner Rush, he is a special joy to behold, revealing one layer of character after another!" Also in the can for Aiello is Off Key, a feature film directed by one of Spain's most prominent directors, Manuel Gomez Pereira (Boca Á Boco). The comedy centers on a trio of opera singers who reunite after ten years of estrangement to attend the wedding of one of the members to the daughter of another member. Aiello plays an Italian opera star, opposite Joe Mantegna and George Hamilton. On the small screen, Aiello last starred in and executive produced the CBS television series "Dellaventura." The show was filmed entirely in New York City and was based on the true exploits of a former NYPD detective.
He followed up his critically acclaimed role of "The Don" in CBS's "The Last Don 2." Based on the Mario Puzo novel, "The Last Don" was the network's highest rated mini-series since 1994 and brought in over 27 million viewers. Of Aiello's performance, People Magazine stated, "In the central role of Don Domenico Clericuzio, who rules his criminal empire from a fortress-like Long Island estate, Danny Aiello achieves maximum credibility with minimal overt effort, as befits a character accustomed to commanding compliance with a wave of the hand." Aiello previously distinguished himself on television for his work in the telefilm, "A Family of Strangers," for which he received an Emmy Award for Best Actor.
Additionally, he has received accolades as well as showcased his singing abilities with his performance of family patriarch "Joe Bella" in Once Around, with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter. Daily Variety stated, "Aiello shines the brightest in this excellent cast!"
Other film credits include: Mojave Moon, opposite Anne Archer; MGM/UA's 2 Days In The Valley; Castle Rock Entertainment's City Hall, starring opposite Al Pacino; Two Much with Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith; The Professional, directed by French film maker Luc Besson; Robert Altman's Ready To Wear; The Pickle, directed by Paul Mazursky; The Cemetery Club, opposite Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis, and Diane Ladd; Mistress, with Robert DeNiro; Ruby, in which Aiello portrayed Lee Harvey Oswald's murderer, Jack Ruby; and 29th Street.
After making his motion picture debut in Bang The Drum Slowly, Aiello continued to distinguish himself in such feature films as Hide In Plain Sight, Once Upon A Time In America and The Purple Rose Of Cairo, among others.
Hailing from a working class family, Danny and his six siblings were raised almost single-handedly by their mother. From early childhood, Aiello worked an endless series of jobs including selling newspapers and shining shoes at Grand Central Station. As a teenager, he served a three-year stint in the Army, where he was stationed in Germany. Upon his return to the States, he became so caught up in a decidedly working class existence that being an actor was the furthest thing from his mind.
When he was laid off from his position as the President of the Greyhound Bus Union in his mid-30's, Aiello landed a job as a bouncer at New York's comedy club, The Improvisation, and began to fill-in as an emcee. In spite of the fact that he had never even seen a play, he had an instinct that acting might make for an interesting career.
With absolutely no formal training, his award-winning debut performance in Lamppost Reunion led to a number of prominent theatre credits including Knockout, Woody Allen's The Floating Light Bulb, and The House of Blue Leaves. He received an Obie Award for his starring role in Gemini - a role he later recreated on Broadway. He also received a Fabergé Award and two Jefferson Nominations for That Championship Season. Additionally, he received unanimous critical acclaim and an LADCC Best Actor Award for his "on-the-edge" portrayal of "Phil" in the L.A. debut of Hurlyburly. His last stage appearance was the 1993 national tour of Tom Dulack's hit comedy, Breaking Legs, in which he played a "godfather" who becomes the unlikely investor in a prospective off-Broadway show.
Though his work tends to take him away from home for extended periods of time, Aiello devotes as much time as possible giving back to his own community. His many charitable endeavors include public service announcements for Covenant House (a mobile unit that provides food, shelter health care, counseling, education and job training to homeless teens,) the United Way of Bergen County, NJ, and the Salvation Army. In addition, Aiello is actively involved with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Hole in the Wall Gang (Paul Newman's Connecticut based organization that helps children with catastrophic diseases), and the Frances Aiello Day Treatment Center in Brooklyn, (an organization named after Aiello's late mother that treats young adults and children who cannot see or hear.) Aiello remains firmly rooted in the metropolitan area and to his close-knit family, which includes wife Sandy and their four children, Rick, Danny III, Jaime and Stacey, and his grandchildren.