Childhood & Early Life
Martin was born Martin Marcantonio Luciano Scorsese on November 17, 1942, in Flushing, New York, USA. He was raised by Italian-American parents in Little Italy, Manhattan.
Martin's parents, Charles and Catherine, worked as part-time actors. As a result, his passion for films developed at a young age of eight. However, being a devout Catholic, priesthood was his first choice of profession.
Martin suffered from asthma as a child, and he often spent time alone. As a result, he was unable to participate in the school and neighborhood activities.
A 10-minute comedy short film earned him a scholarship of 500 US dollars, and he entered the ‘Film School’ at ‘New York University.’
During his NYU days, Martin directed a few short films that had influences of foreign classics and Hollywood musicals. Among them was the 1963 short film ‘What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?’
His next short film ‘It’s Not Just You, Murray!’ won the ‘Producers Guild Award’ for the best student film in 1964. He also received awards for other short films which he made as an undergraduate.
After completing his MFA in film directing at NYU in 1966, Martin briefly worked at the university as a film instructor. His students included Jonathan Kaplan and Oliver Stone.
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In 1967, Martin completed his first feature-length film ‘Who's That Knocking at My Door.’ While working on the project, he met actor Harvey Keitel whom he would go on to cast in many future projects.
The film earned Martin encouraging reviews, and he was offered the position of assistant director and supervising editor for ‘Woodstock’ in 1970. While filming ‘Woodstock,’ he met Thelma Schoonmaker, an editor, with whom he collaborated for more than 40 years.
During 1970s and 1980s, Martin directed several films that helped define new age cinema. In 1970, he directed ‘Street Scenes 1970,’ a documentary about the protests against ‘Vietnam War.’ He then worked as an editor for concert films like ‘Medicine Ball Caravan’ in 1971 and ‘Elvis on Tour’ in 1972.
In 1973, Martin directed ‘Mean Streets,’ his first film to be widely acknowledged as a masterpiece. The film introduced him to Robert De Niro with whom he would go on to collaborate for a number of hit films.
In 1974, he made a documentary titled ‘Italianamerican’ which was a chronicle of his parents’ life. He then started working on his first mainstream studio picture ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.’
His 1976 masterpiece ‘Taxi Driver’ was nominated under different categories at the ‘Academy Awards.’ Perhaps the most controversial and most disturbing among his filmography, ‘Taxi Driver’ is considered Martin’s best work to date.
In 1978, Martin made an acclaimed documentary titled ‘The Last Waltz’ by using old concert footage. The documentary showcased farewell performances of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and Muddy Waters. Since then, he has renewed his musical passion through his films.
The 1977 film ‘New York, New York’ saw the glorious collaboration of Martin and Robert De Niro. The film is best known for the extensive usage of non-naturalistic light and elaborate sets.
They collaborated again for their 1980 picture ‘Raging Bull’ which was based on the life of boxer Jake LaMotta. Although initial reactions were mixed due to the display of extensive violence, ‘Raging Bull’ is now widely considered one of the greatest movies of all time.
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The 1982 feature film ‘The King of Comedy’ had a similar fate. After an initial disapproval, it later received critical praise. Martin directed his first huge box-office success ‘The Color of Money’ in 1986.
In 1988, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ earned Martin his second ‘Oscar’ nomination.
The 1990s saw the release of two of Martin’s most important gangster movies to date—‘Goodfellas’ and the 1995 classic feature ‘Casino.’
In 2003, he completed his seven-part documentary series ‘The Blues.’ Two years later, his Bob Dylan documentary ‘No Direction Home’ was aired as part of the ‘American Masters’ series
Martin used footage of a 2006 ‘Rolling Stones’ concert to direct the 2008 documentary ‘Shine a Light.’
Leonardo DiCaprio caught Martin’s artistic eyes and eventually became his go-to actor. Together, they gave some benchmark films like ‘Gangs of New York’ in 2002, ‘The Aviator’ in 2004, and ‘The Departed’ in 2006. ‘The Departed’ earned Martin his first ‘Oscar’ under the ‘Best Director’ category.
Martin worked with DiCaprio once again in the 2013 flick ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ which earned another ‘Oscar’ nomination. He then worked as the executive producer for the 2014 series ‘Boardwalk Empire.’
He once again worked as an executive producer for HBO’s ‘Vinyl,’ aired in 2016. Martin then co-wrote the 2016 feature film ‘Silence’ which was based on a novel by Shusaku Endo.
Martin has started his first-ever online class where he shares valuables thoughts on storytelling and editing.
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He has directed several documentaries based on rock music. These documentaries include ‘The Last Waltz’ (1978), ‘No Direction Home’ (2005), ‘Shine a Light’ (2008), ‘George Harrison: Living in the Material World’ (2011), and ‘Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese’ (2019).
‘Who’s That Knocking at My Door’ – this is Martin’s first theatrical film which released on November 15, 1967. The feature was an intimate portrayal of life on the streets of Little Italy.
‘Woodstock’ – Martin worked as an assistant director and supervising editor for this documentary. The three-hour long movie is a brilliant conversion of a raw footage shot in a 1969 rock concert.
‘Mean Streets’ – this ground-breaking film is a rework of the themes originally introduced in his debut film. The film displayed rapid dialogue delivery, extreme violence, and blaring rock music. Released on October 2, 1973, the film is one of Martin’s masterpieces.
‘Taxi Driver’ – one of the many films that witnessed the collaboration of Martin and Robert De Niro. This film is also his first major hit. Released on February 8, 1976, the film elevated De Niro's status as a good actor.
‘New York, New York’ – set in the 1950s, this film is about a novice saxophone player named ‘Jimmy Doyle,’ played by De Niro. Post its release on June 21, 1977, the film was stamped a commercial flop. However, it achieved a cult status later.
‘Goodfellas’ – this is an adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction work ‘Wiseguy.’ Through this film, Martin showcased his mastery over trick shots. He also displayed his usage of numerous other skills that were in contrast to his conventional ways of filmmaking. Premiered at ‘Venice Film Festival,’ the film reached the US audience on September 19, 1990.
‘The Aviator’ – this is a biopic of aviator and movie producer Howard Hughes, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Martin lavishly re-created the Hollywood of 1930s and 1940s. Post its release on 25 December 2004, the film became a box office success and also earned 11 ‘Oscar’ nominations.
‘The Departed’ – released on October 6, 2006, the film is based on a Hong Kong action flick titled ‘Infernal Affairs.’ The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in prominent roles. This film brought Martin his first ‘Oscar.’
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Awards & Achievements
‘Writers Guild of America’ (2003) – Martin was honored with the ‘Evelyn F. Burkey Award’ for his remarkable journey as a screenplay writer.
‘Walk of Fame’ (2003) – on 28 February 2003 at the 6801st Hollywood Blvd, Martin received a star on the ‘Walk of Fame Motion Picture Honor.’
‘Venice Film Festival’ (1990) – Martin won four awards under categories, such as ‘Best Director,’ ‘The Silver Lion,’ ‘Filmcritica Bastone Bianco,’ and ‘Audience Award’ for his work in ‘Goodfellas.’
‘Grammy’ (2006) – Martin shared the award with Bob Dylan for his documentary ‘No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.’
‘Academy Award’ (2007) – Martin won the ‘Best Achievement in Directing’ for ‘The Departed.’
Martin has been married five times. He first married Laraine Marie Brennan with whom he has a daughter named Catherine
In 1975, he married renowned author Julia Cameron and divorced her after a year. They have a daughter named Domenica Cameron-Scorsese. She is an actress and has starred in few of Martin’s films.
Actress Isabella Rossellini was his third wife from 1979 to 1983. Martin then married producer Barbara De Fina in 1985.
After divorcing Barbara in 1991, Martin married Helen Schermerhorn Morris in 1999 with whom he has a daughter named Francesca. She too has worked with Martin in few of his films.