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Irving Rameses "Ving" Rhames (born May 12, 1959) is an American actor best known for his work in Pulp Fiction, Baby Boy, Don King: Only in America, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, and the Mission: Impossible film series.

Early life

Rhames was born in New York City, New York to Reatha, a homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic. He was named after the now deceased 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.

Career

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 Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994). Rhames also was getting public exposure on television as Peter Benton's brother-in-law 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. In 1997, Rhames portrayed the Character of Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones in the popular film Con Air.

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 "...one 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), as the ex-con boyfriend of Jodie's mother in the John Singleton film Baby Boy, 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 the Day of the Dead 2008 "remake." Rhames has also appeared in a series of television commercials for RadioShack, usually performing with Vanessa L. Williams.

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 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 narrates the BET television series American Gangster.

In the 2008 film Saving God he played an ex-con who is released from prison a changed man looking to take over his father's former church congregation in a deteriorating neighborhood. Rhames also stars in Phantom Punch, a biopic of boxer Sonny Liston released directly to DVD as well as The Tournament portraying a fighter out to win a no-rules tournament.

Rhames makes an appearance in Ludacris's song "Southern Gangstas" on his album Theater of the Mind. Rappers Playaz Circle and Rick Ross are also featured on the track.

According to the IMDb website, 2010 will be a busy year for Ving as he is scheduled to perform in 8 different motion pictures. He is engaged in a lawsuit with the producer of one, a film titled, Red Canvas

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