VING RHAMES (Spats) was born and raised in Harlem, New York. Rhames
studied dramatic arts at the New York High School of Performing Arts and then at the
Juilliard School of Drama. After graduating from Juilliard, Rhames went on to perform
in Shakespeare in the Park productions. In 1984, he appeared in front of the camera for
the first time in the television movie Go Tell it on the Mountain and was then quickly cast
in minor roles in several popular television shows including Miami Vice, Tour of Duty
and Crime Story. In a remarkable turn of events, while filming The Saint of Fort
Washington in New York, he was introduced to a homeless man—who turned out to be
his long lost, older brother, Junior, who had lost contact with the family after serving in
Vietnam. The thrilled Rhames immediately assisted his disheveled brother in getting
proper food and clothing and moved him into his own apartment.
Rhames' next big break came in 1994 when director Quentin Tarantino cast him
as the merciless drug dealer Marsellus Wallace in the mega hit Pulp Fiction. Not long
after, director Brian De Palma cast Rhames alongside Tom Cruise as the ace computer
hacker, Luther Stickell, in Mission: Impossible. With solid performances in both these
highly popular productions, his face was now well known to moviegoers, and the work
offers began rolling in more frequently.
The next career highlight for Rhames was playing the lead role in the HBO
production of Don King: Only in America. Rhames' performance as the world's most
infamous boxing promoter was nothing short of brilliant, and at the 1998 Golden Globe
Awards, he picked up the award for Best Actor in a Miniseries. However, in an
incredible display of compassion, he handed over the award to fellow nominee Jack
Lemmon, as he felt Lemmon was a more deserving winner.
The talented actor then contributed attention-grabbing performances in Bringing
Out the Dead, returned as Luther Stickell in Mission: Impossible II and III, contributed
his deep bass voice for the character of Cobra Bubbles in Lilo & Stitch and played a burly
cop fighting cannibal zombie hordes in Dawn of the Dead. A keen fitness and weightlifting
enthusiast, Rhames is also well known for his strong spiritual beliefs and
benevolent attitude towards others.
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