Brooding and intense, Al Pacino has remained one of Hollywood's premier actors throughout his lengthy career, a popular and critical favorite whose list of credits includes many of the finest films of his era. Pacino was born April 25, 1940, in East Harlem, NY. Raised in the Bronx, he attended the legendary High School for Performing Arts, but dropped out at the age of 17. He spent the next several years drifting from job to job, continuing to study acting and occasionally appearing in off-off-Broadway productions. In 1966, Pacino was accepted to train at the Actors' Studio, and after working with James Earl Jones in The Peace Creeps, he starred as a brutal street youth in the off-Broadway social drama The Indian Wants the Bronx, earning an Obie Award as Best Actor for the 1967-1968 theatrical season. A year later, he made his Broadway debut in Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie? Although the play itself closed after less than 40 performances, Pacino was universally praised for his potent portrayal of a sociopathic drug addict, and he won a Tony Award for his performance.
Pacino made his film debut in the 1969 flop Me, Natalie. After making his theatrical directorial debut with 1970's Rats, he returned to the screen a year later in Panic in Needle Park, again appearing as a junkie. (To prepare for the role, he and co-star Kitty Winn conducted extensive research in known drug-dealer haunts as well as methadone clinics.) While the picture was not a success, Pacino again earned critical raves. Next came Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 Mafia epic The Godfather. As Michael Corleone, the son of an infamous crime lord reluctantly thrust into the family business, Pacino shot to stardom, earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his soulful performance. While the follow-up, 1973's Scarecrow, was received far less warmly, the police drama Serpico was a smash, as was 1974's The Godfather Part II for which he earned his third Academy Award nomination. The 1975 fact-based Dog Day Afternoon, in which Pacino starred as a robber attempting to stick up a bank in order to finance his gay lover's sex-change operation, was yet another staggering success.