Childhood & Early Life
Ving Rhames was born on May 12, 1959 with the name Irving Rameses Rhames in Harlem, New York City. The star’s mother, Reather, was a homemaker and father, Ernest, was an auto mechanic. Irving was named after the NBC journalist Irving R. Levine.
He received his formal education from New York's renowned High School of Performing Arts where he fell in love with acting.
After graduation, he studied drama at SUNY Purchase. There, he met the now-popular star ‘Stanley Tucci’ who gave him the nickname ‘Ving’.
Later on, he earned a scholarship and moved to Juilliard School of Drama and studied classical theater there. In 1983, he earned his bachelor degree of Fine Arts in Drama. After that, he started performing in Shakespeare’s plays in the Park productions.
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Ving Rhames first did a television film ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain’ in 1984. Later in the same year, he appeared on Broadway where he played a role in a play named ‘The Winter Boys’.
He then started working in television films and did promising roles on soap operas like ‘Guiding Light’, ‘Another World’ and ‘Miami Vice’.
In 1986, he moved to the big screen and was cast as ‘Jack’ in ‘Native Son’. After a few years, in 1989, he appeared in ‘Brian de Palma Vietnam War saga Casualties of War’ and made a gradual rise afterward.
In 1993, Rhames worked with Matt Dillon in ‘The Saint of Fort Washington’. The next year, in 1994, the star got considerable acclaim for his role as ‘Marsellus Wallace’ in ‘Pulp Fiction’. The Quentin Tarantino movie became a blockbuster.
He played the role of the ace computer hacker Luther Stickell in ‘Mission: Impossible’ in 1996. In this film, he was cast alongside superstar Tom Cruise. The same year he also did ‘Striptease’, playing the role of a wisecracking bodyguard.
In 1997, he starred in ‘Con Air’, portraying the role of Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones. He also played the lead role in ‘Don King: Only in America’ the same year.
He made appearances in two movies, ‘Entrapment’ and ‘Bringing Out the Dead’ in 1999.
*In 2000, he reprised the role of Luther Stickell in ‘Mission: Impossible II’. The same year, he played Johnnie Cochran in the flick ‘American Tragedy’.
Ving Rhames played a burly cop in ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and fought cannibal zombie hordes in 2004.
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In 2005, he was given a lead role in a new Kojak series which was aired on ITV4 in the UK and on the USA Network cable channel in America.
In 2006, the imposing star again appeared in the third sequel of ‘Mission Impossible.’
Ving Rhames’ extraordinary comedy skills were seen in ‘I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry’ in 2007. In this comedy film, the actor played the role of a homosexual firefighter.
In 2009, Rhames again flexed his comedy muscles in ‘The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard’. The following year, he changed genres and did a horror movie in Alexandre Aja's remake ‘Piranha 3D’.
In 2011, he was cast in ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ for a cameo appearance.
In 2015, he played a major role in the Mission Impossible series’ fifth installment, ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’. The same year, he did a series of advertisements for Arby's and The ADT Corporation.
Ving Rhames performed in the 1997 TV movie ‘Don King: Only in America’ where he portrayed the main role of Don King. The movie, which tells the story of how King became a famous fight promoter and boxing manager, was a critical success.
In addition to the big screen, Rhames also played major roles on the small screen. He did a medical series ‘ER’ in which he appeared as Peter Benton's brother-in-law, a role he played for three seasons.
In 2008, Rhames portrayed the character of an ex-con in ‘Saving God’. This film highlights the story of a con who after his release from the prison changes completely and takes over his father's old church.
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He also gave his contribution to ‘Phantom Punch’ – a biopic of the boxer Sonny Liston.
Awards & Achievements
In 1998, Ving Rhames received the ‘Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film’ for ‘Don King: Only in America’.
He won “Special Mention” appreciation at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2001.
The actor was also paid tribute to by The National Association of Theatre Owners.
Personal Life & Legacy
In the year 1994, Rhames married a woman named Valerie Scott. On February 9, 1999, Rhames and Scott divorced.
The following year, in 2000, the star married Deborah Reed. The couple has a son and a daughter. They also have a daughter Tiffany who was born from Reed's previous marriage.
One of Rhames’ college roommates Stanley Tucci suggested that the actor shorten his name to ‘Ving’.
Rhames is the only actor besides Tom Cruise to work in the five sequels of ‘Mission: Impossible.’
During 1998 Golden Globes ceremony, Rhames handed over his Best Actor award to his fellow nominee Jack Lemmon. The ‘Don King: Only in America’ star’s gesture brought him a standing ovation.
Rhames is also one of the narrators for The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The actor grew up in the same neighborhood with gangsters and drug kings.
During the filming of ‘The Saint of Fort Washington’, Rhames was introduced to a homeless man by Matt Dillon. This stranger turned out to be the actor’s long-estranged older brother who had lost contact with the family several years ago. After that, Rhames invited his big brother to his apartment, got him a job and later on, also brought a home for him.