There shouldn't be a doubt in anyone's mind that Italian immigrants have had a massive influence on the United States. Still, nowhere else in the country can claim to be as steeped in Italian culture as New York City, where immigrants landed and created a new home that has flourished for generations. In fact, many of our favorite and most influential American celebrities not only come from the streets of New York, but also claim Italian ancestry; some of them might even surprise you. These Italian-Americans are some of the most celebrated in their industries:
Robert De Niro
Considered one of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born, raised and still lives in New York City. His acting ability has covered a wide range of genres, from deeply dramatic flicks like The Godfather: Part II and Silver Linings Playbook to ridiculous comedy as seen in Meet the Parents and his many stellar appearances on Saturday Night Live.
Sure, the name Lady Gaga might not conjure images of the Mediterranean and bowls full of pasta, but her real name, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, sure does. Her meteoric rise to fame with the song Poker Face has made her one of the most famous Italian New Yorkers to grace a stage, both in the US and abroad.
With wonderful movies like The Wrestler, Crazy Stupid Love and The Lincoln Lawyer under her belt, Marisa Tomei has gone from playing an uncredited role in The Toxic Avenger to becoming an award-winning actress. Born in Brooklyn, there's no question as to this New Yorker's celebrity status or her ability to shine in any role.
Along with his Heat co-star Robert De Niro, Al Pacino is unquestionably one of the greatest actors of all time. His ability to make his characters overwhelm the screen has landed him some of the most powerful roles in film. From drug kingpins and mafia bosses to corrupt cops and even the devil, Pacino is one Italian-American New Yorker whose tremendous skill has made him a household name across the country.
Though directors' names are rarely as well-known as their actor counterparts, Martin Scorsese is the definitive exception to the norm. Not only has he directed a number of universally-loved films like Goodfellas and The Departed, Scorsese has also shown that he's not afraid to take risks in movies á la Shutter Island (which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, also of Italian decent). Born in Queens and seemingly infatuated with the city that never sleeps, many of Scorsese’s greatest works take place in The Big Apple.