CelebVet: Harvey Keitel, Actor
Still active on the big and small screens, the Marine Corps’ very own Harvey Keitel is now 50 years into the acting profession. True to the Corps motto of Semper Fidelis, he carries with him a dedication to his fellow jarheads that has never wavered.
Brooklyn-born Keitel, the son of European immigrants and small business owners, joined the Marines at the age of 16. His experience became the antidote to a rough-and-tumble adolescence, and the beginning of a lifelong commitment to the ideas and ideals of the Corps.
Growing up as something of a delinquent, Keitel’s truancy was put to an end when he was sent to Lebanon with the Marines. Upon his return, he sold shoes and nurtured an interest in acting. It’s a lifestyle that set the stage for many of the gritty roles he performed in early Martin Scorsese films.
Studying with the famed Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler, he managed some bit parts in plays Off-Off-Broadway. Then at the age of 26, he answered an ad by a student director at New York University named Martin Scorsese and was cast in Scorsese’s thesis film. When the young director began to make his mark with such films as Mean Streets, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Taxi Driver, Harvey Keitel landed movie roles and began to be noticed for his solid performances.
This multifaceted actor has since played in over two dozen films, earning a reputation as an actor who can perform in comedy as well as serious drama. Earning Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his supporting role in the 1991 film Bugsy, his other films of note include Pulp Fiction, The Piano, Wise Guys, Thelma and Louise, Cop Land, Reservoir Dogs, and the 2014 Oscar-nominated comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel.
His small screen credits range from 1960s comedy Hogan's Heroes based on World War II to contemporary hit Inside Amy Schumer. In his most recent TV series run from 2008-2009, Life on Mars, Keitel played a homicide detective known for his any-means-necessary approach who, after a car crash, wakes up in the 1970s.
Forty years after the release of the groundbreaking film Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro and Keitel are once again united in The Comedian, which stars De Niro as a comic icon trying to reinvent himself, and Keitel as a sleazy Florida real estate mogul. The world premiere is ironically set to take place on Veterans Day this year, November 11, 2016, at the American Film Institute's AFI Fest in Hollywood, CA.
ALWAYS A MARINE
Additionally, for his fellow Marines, Keitel and Veterans Advantage Advisory Board member Gerry Byrne have co-chaired the Marine Corps Birthday Gala, which takes place Veterans Week every year in New York City. He is famous among the Corps community for his deep dedication to his fellow Marines.
"You can pretty much tell the people who do understand. They don’t understand our experience, but they understand their own, which might have a parallel place. You’re a Marine. I am [a Marine]. Our motto is Semper Fidelis. That says it all. Always faithful. That’s something you’re not going to find often in life," he once said in a Hollywood industry interview with MovieMaker magazine.
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