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Ving Rhames

Ving Rhames
Born Irving Rameses Rhames
(1959-05-12) May 12, 1959
New York City, New York, U.S.
Education Juilliard School (BFA 1983)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1984–present
Spouse(s) Valerie Scott (1994–1999; divorced)
Deborah Reed (2000–present)

Irving Rameses "Ving" Rhames (born May 12, 1959) is an American actor best known for his work in Bringing Out the Dead, Pulp Fiction, Out of Sight, Baby Boy, Don King: Only in America, Dawn of the Dead, Rosewood, Con Air, and as Luther Stickell in the Mission: Impossible film series.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Filmography 3
  • Awards and nominations 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Rhames was born in Harlem, New York City, New York, the son of Reather, a homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic.[1][2] His parents were raised as sharecroppers in South Carolina.[2][3] Named after the late NBC journalist, Irving R. Levine,[4] Irving Rhames also grew up in Harlem.

He entered New York's High School of Performing Arts, where he discovered his love of acting. After high school, he studied drama at SUNY Purchase, where fellow acting student Stanley Tucci gave him his nickname "Ving".[5] Rhames later transferred to the Juilliard School's Drama Division (Group 12: 1979–1983)[6] where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1983.[7]


Rhames first appeared on Broadway in the play The Boys of Winter in 1984. He started out in film in Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs as Leroy and played the role of Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994).

Rhames played Peter Benton's brother-in-law on the TV medical drama ER, a recurring role he filled for three seasons. He played ace computer hacker Luther Stickell, opposite Tom Cruise, in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible (1996). In 1997, Rhames portrayed the character of Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones in the popular film Con Air.

Rhames won a Golden Globe in 1998 for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film in HBO's Don King: Only in America. At the ceremony Rhames gave his award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon, saying, "I feel that being an artist is about giving, and I'd like to give this to you." Lemmon was clearly touched by the gesture as was the celebrity audience who gave Lemmon a standing ovation. Lemmon, who tried unsuccessfully to give the award back to Rhames, said it was "one of the sweetest moments I've ever known in my life." The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced later that they would have a duplicate award prepared for Rhames. That moment was #98 on E!'s 101 Awesome Moments in Entertainment.[8][9][10] The New York Times lauded Rhames for the act, writing that in doing so he "demonstrated his capacity for abundant generosity."[10]

Rhames appeared in Striptease (1996) as the wisecracking bodyguard Shad, Bringing Out the Dead (1999), then reprised his Luther Stickell role for Mission: Impossible II (2000). He played Johnnie Cochran in American Tragedy (2000), the ex-con boyfriend of Jodie's mother in the John Singleton film Baby Boy, portrayed a gay drag queen in the television movie Holiday Heart, contributed his voice for the character of Cobra Bubbles in Lilo & Stitch (2002) and the subsequent TV series, and played a stoic cop fighting zombie hordes in Dawn of the Dead (2004) and the Day of the Dead 2008 remake. Rhames has also appeared in a series of television commercials for RadioShack, usually performing with Vanessa L. Williams.

In March 2005, Rhames played the lead role on a new Kojak series, on the USA Network cable channel (and on ITV4 in the UK). The bald head, lollipops, and "Who loves ya, baby?" catchphrase remained intact, but little else remained from the Savalas original.

Rhames voiced the part of Tobias Jones in the computer game Driv3r.

Rhames reprised his role in Mission: Impossible III (2006), had a cameo appearance in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), and played a major role in the fifth film, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015).[11] He is the only actor besides Tom Cruise to appear in all five Mission: Impossible films. It was announced that he would have a role in the Aquaman-based show Mercy Reef, however due to the integration of The WB and UPN for the new network, CW, Mercy Reef was not picked up. Rhames played a homosexual, possibly also homicidal, firefighter who comes out of the closet in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He narrates the BET television series American Gangster.

In the 2008 film Saving God he played an ex-con who is released from prison a changed man looking to take over his father's former church congregation in a deteriorating neighborhood. Rhames stars in Phantom Punch, a biopic of boxer Sonny Liston released directly to DVD as well as The Tournament portraying a fighter out to win a no-rules tournament.

Rhames makes an appearance in Ludacris's song "Southern Gangstas" on his album Theater of the Mind. Rappers Playaz Circle and Rick Ross are also featured on the track.

In 2010 he filed a lawsuit against the producer of a film titled Red Canvas.[12]

He filmed the movie Submission with Ernie Reyes, Jr. and UFC lightweight contender Gray Maynard and Randy Couture.

In 2015 he filmed a series of commercials for The ADT Corporation and Arby's.

Rhames is also one of the narrators for UFC.


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Go Tell It on the Mountain Young Gabriel
1985 Miami Vice Georges Episode: "The Maze"
1985 American Playhouse Hector Lincoln Episode: "Abrams for the Defense"
1986 Native Son Jack
1987 Miami Vice Walker Monroe Episode: "Child's Play"
1987 Tour of Duty SP4 Tucker Episode: "Burn Baby, Burn"
1988 Spenser: For Hire Henry Brown Episode: "McAllister"
1988 Patty Hearst Cinque
1989 Men Charlie Hazard 6 episodes
1989 Casualties of War Lt. Reilly
1989 The Equalizer Luther Paxton Episode: "Suicide Squad"
1990 The Long Walk Home Herbert Cotter
1990 Jacob's Ladder George
1991 Flight of the Intruder CPO Frank McRae
1991 Homicide Robert Randolph
1991 The People Under the Stairs Leroy
1992 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Mr. Stereo
1993 Blood in Blood Out Ivan
1993 Dave Duane Stevenson
1993 The Saint of Fort Washington Little Leroy
1994 Pulp Fiction Marsellus Wallace
1994 Drop Squad Garvey
1994–1996 ER Walter Robbins 8 episodes
1995 Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Lightning Detective Artie Brown TV film
1995 New York Undercover Max Villareal Episode: "Olde Thyme Religion"
1995 Kiss of Death Omar
1995 Deadly Whispers Det. Jackson TV film
1996 Mission: Impossible Luther Stickell
1996 Striptease Shad (bodyguard)
1997 Dangerous Ground Muki
1997 Rosewood Mann
1997 Con Air Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones
1997 Don King: Only in America Don King TV film
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
1998 Body Count Pike
1998 Out of Sight Buddy Bragg
1999 Entrapment Aaron Thibadeaux Nominated—Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actor – Action
1999 Bringing Out the Dead Marcus Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor
2000 Mission: Impossible II Luther Stickell
2000 American Tragedy Johnnie Cochran TV film
2000 Holiday Heart Holiday Heart TV film
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2001 Baby Boy Melvin Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Ryan Whittaker
2001 UC: Undercover Quito Real 3 episodes
2002 Sins of the Father Garrick Jones TV film
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2002 Little John John Morgan TV film
2002 Undisputed George "Iceman" Chambers
2002 Lilo & Stitch Cobra Bubbles Voice only
2002 RFK Judge Jones TV film
2002 Dark Blue Arthur Holland Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
2002 The Proud Family Garrett Krebs Episode: "A Hero for Halloween"
2002-2003 The District Attorney General Troy Hatcher 5 episodes
2003 Stitch! The Movie Cobra Bubbles Voice only
2003 Lilo & Stitch: The Series Cobra Bubbles Voice only
2003 Jimmy Neutron Chief Episode: "Operation: Rescue Jet Fusion"
2003 Mission: Impossible – Operation Surma Luther Stickel Video game (voice only)
2003 Sin Eddie Burns Direct-to-DVD
2004 Dawn of the Dead Sgt. Kenneth Hall
2004 Driv3r Tobias Jones Video game (voice only)
2005 Back in the Day Joseph "J-Bone" Brown Direct-to-DVD
2005 Kojak Theo Kojak 9 episodes
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2005 Animal James "Animal" Allen Direct-to-DVD
2005 Shooting Gallery Cue Ball Carl Bridgers Direct-to-DVD
2006 Aquaman McCaffery TV pilot
2006 Mission: Impossible III Luther Stickell
2006 Idlewild Spats
2007 Football Wives Frank Wallingford TV pilot
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Fred G. Duncan
2008 Animal 2 James "Animal" Allen Direct-to-DVD
2008 A Broken Life Vet Direct-to--VOD
2008 Day of the Dead Capt. Rhodes Direct-to--VOD
2008 Saving God Armstrong Cane Direct-to-DVD
2008 Phantom Punch Sonny Liston Direct-to-DVD
2009 Echelon Conspiracy Agent Dave Grant
2009 The Bridge to Nowhere Drug-dealer Nate Direct-to-DVD
2009 Evil Angel Carruthers Direct-to-DVD
2009 The Tournament Joshua Harlow
2009 The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard Jibby Newsome
2009 Surrogates The Prophet
2009 Give 'Em Hell, Malone Boulder Direct-to-VOD
2010 Operation: Endgame Judgement Direct-to-VOD
2010 Gravity Dogg McFee TV series
2010 Caged Animal Miles "Cain" Skinner Direct-to-DVD
2010 Master Harold...and the Boys Sam
2010 Gravity Dogg McFee 10 episodes
2010 Piranha 3D Deputy Fallon
2010 Red Canvas[12] Himself
2011 Death Race 2 R.H. Weyland
2011 Soldiers of Fortune Grimaud Direct-to-VOD
2011 The River Murders Captain Langley Direct-to-DVD
2011 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Luther Stickell Cameo
2011 Zombie Apocalypse Henry Direct-to-DVD
2011 Mafia Renzo Wes Direct-to-DVD
2012 Seven Below Jack Direct-to-DVD
2012 Piranha 3DD Deputy Fallon Direct-to-DVD
2012 Won't Back Down Principal Thompson
2013 Death Race 3: Inferno R.H. Weyland Direct-to-video
2013 Monday Mornings Dr. Jorge Villanueva 10 episodes
2014 Jamesy Boy Conrad Direct-to-VOD
2013 Force of Execution Ice Man Direct-to-DVD
2015 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Luther Stickell
2016 Bastards Filming

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1998 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in Mini-Series or Motion Picture Don King: Only in America Won [13]
Primetime Emmy Awards Best Actor in Mini-Series or Movie Don King: Only in America Nominated
Acalpulco Black Film Festival Best Actor Rosewood Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in Motion Picture Rosewood Nominated
Outstanding Actor in Television or Mini-Series Don King: Only in America Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Don King: Only in America Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Don King: Only in America Nominated
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Best Supporting Actor - Action Entrapment Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor - Comedy or Music Bringing out the Dead Nominated
ShoWest Convention Best Supporting Actor Won [14]
2001 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Network Holiday Heart Nominated
Image Awards Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Mission Impossible II Nominated
Locarno International Film Festival Special Mention Baby Boy Won
2002 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Baby Boy Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series UC: Undercover Nominated
Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Baby Boy Nominated
2003 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series Sins of the Father Nominated
Image Awards Best Supporting Actor - Comedy The Proud Family Nominated
Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Sins of the Father Nominated
2004 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Dark Blue Nominated
2006 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television Kojak Nominated
2015 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television A Day Late and a Dollar Short Pending
Image Awards Best Actor - Television Nominated


  1. ^ Mills, Bart (October 17, 1999). "'"Ving And A Prayer Faith Is The Cornerstone Of Rhames' Life — And His Character's In Scorsese's 'Bringing Out The Dead.  
  2. ^ a b Charles, Nick (June 23, 1996). "Nursery Rhames ... 'Mission Impossible' And 'Pulp Fiction' Star Ving Learned His Values At His Mother's Knee".  
  4. ^ Newsmakers – Newsweek Entertainment –
  5. ^ Ving Rhames at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ "Alumni News".  
  7. ^ "Ving Rhames". All Movie Guide.  
  8. ^ Riché Richardson (2007). Black masculinity and the U.S. South: from Uncle Tom to gangsta. University of Georgia Press.  
  9. ^ Marlene Calvin (2010). Diasporic Lives: Alienation and Violence as Themes in African American Jamaican Cultural Texts. LIT Verlag Münster.  
  10. ^ a b Gerston, Jill. "Ving Rhames – About This Person". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Ving Rhames Returns for Mission: Impossible 5". August 17, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Ving Rhames to Producer: Do I Look Like a Bitch?. Retrieved on 2010-08-28.
  13. ^ "1998 Golden Globes Award". Ropeofsilicon. Retrieved 2015-02-12. 
  14. ^ Jones, Anderson (2000-03-10). "ShoWest 2000 Signs Off". Retrieved 2015-02-12. 

External links

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