JOE RIGANO- A NATURAL
Born and raised on the tough streets of what was called Ocean Hill in Brooklyn, Joe Rigano never knew that Hollywood would be needing a man like him. Growing up among men whose code of honor was deeper than any other facet of life, Joe learned the important things in life don't come easy.
Raised by strict family values Joe developed a strong understanding of work ethics and that being lazy gets you nowhere in life. He managed to work his way through to High school but instead of going off to college he went straight to work. He began as a laborer laying bricks. He soon graduated to becoming a City Inspector. Becoming an actor was not part of his master plan. But somehow Hollywood fell in his lap.
He married his childhood friend Marie and spawned three wonderful children, Angela, Joseph and Gina. Joe soon retired from his inspector position and ended up being at the right place at the right time. The year was 1994 and Joe was working as an expeditor for a construction company. A good friend of his who was a retired policeman approached Joe with an offer.
His friend Jerry Steriano who did bodyguard work for celebrity parties was a big hit at the Sons Of Italy lodge. One day while returning from a job he suggested for Joe to try out for a role in the upcoming movie " Casino".
Jerry gave a number for Joe to call to see if he can read for the part.
Hence, Joe not only read for the part but also was casted for the role along with another New Yorker, Vinny Vella. The character was a crime boss named Borrelly. Martin Scorcese was so impressed with Joe's improvisation of the character that he allowed Joe enough room to run with the role.
Following this success Joe went on to play in many films from 1994 to the present. Some of his most notable works have been " Mickey Blue Eyes", " Casino", "Crew", " Analyze This" and many others. Since then Joe has enjoyed the allure of the industry but also made it his business to also study the craft. " Martin, told me if I want to learn the craft I must enroll in some classes to sharpen my already natural talent."
Joe took some evening courses at NYU and learned many aspects of the craft that only added to his talent. Among all this success Joe did face major health hurdles. He battled cancer three times in his life and survived each bout. The ironic part is the disease had played a dual role in his life. When he developed cancer of the throat his voice was altered where he began to sound like "the Godfather". Hence, the roles he was offered were geared to wise guy roles due to his voice.
Aside from film he with his fellow college Vinny Vella hosted commercials for ESPN during Sunday night baseball. Following that he went on to work with Vincent Pastore hosting a satellite radio show called "The Wise Guy Show". The show, which is on SIRIUS radio, has garnered excellent feedback. The show has had A-List actors as guests. Such as Tony Danza, Nancy and Frank Jr. Sinatra, Connie Francis, Dion, Neil Sadaka and many others.
Joe's bio can also be found in the book "Shut Up & Eat" by another fellow actor Tony Lip. In the book Joe adds one of his famous recipes to his bio. Here in the studio where we conducted the interview food was brought up of course. Joe and I could not think of a better place to have food delivered than " Events & Everyday Caterers". "I believe to be on the ball in this business you got to be well fed to have the energy to perform. And why not from the best in the business."
Being in the business now for 11 years the film that stands out the most for him was the one that hatched the egg. " It would have to be " Casino". Not only had the film become a blockbuster hit but it open the floodgates to my success."
Now at the tender age of 73 Joe is not slowing down just yet. " I am having the time of my life at my age." At the present Joe is always ready for anything that they may throw at him. He can be heard on the radio show " The Wise Guy Show" every Wednesday night from 6-9pm., which is going, be marketed in a different medium. There will be products like " Wise Guy Cigars", "Wise Guy Meatballs", " Wise Guy Pizzas and " Wise Guy Sauce".
When asked about the possible wise guy fascination fading out, Joe denied it would ever go away. " It will never go away. That desire to see gangster films are still an interest in the mid-west not so much on the East coast because here we live it and have first hand knowledge. Out there they hunger for it that's why there will always be a market for it." At present Joe is always on the look out for new ventures and has since moved to Elmont, Long Island a far cry from his roots.