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Publisher's Summary

Beloved stage and screen actor Danny Aiello’s big-hearted memoir reveals a man of passion, integrity, and guts - and lays bare one of the most unlikely success stories ever told. Danny Aiello admits that he backed into his acting career by mistake. That’s easy to see when you begin at the beginning: Raised by his loving and fiercely resilient mother in the tenements of Manhattan and the South Bronx, and forever haunted by the death of his infant brother, Danny struggled early on to define who he was and who he could be. Shoeshine boy, numbers runner, and pool hustler were among the first identities he tried on. After getting into trouble on the streets, he enlisted in the army at 17, served in Germany, and was honorably discharged. Later, as an unemployed high school dropout raising a family of his own, Danny was burdened with serious depression by the time he landed a job as a bouncer at a Hell’s Kitchen comedy club. Taking to the stage in the wee hours to belt out standards, Danny Aiello found his voice and his purpose: He was born to act. Performing in converted churches and touring companies led to supporting roles in such films as The Godfather: Part II and Moonstruck, and an Oscar nomination for his role as the embattled Salvatore in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. For a guy who had never set foot in an acting class, this was supreme validation for being an outsider who followed his heart.

In a raw and real chronicle of his gritty urban past, Danny Aiello looks back with appreciation, amusement, and frank disbelief at his unconventional road to success. He offers candid observations on working with luminary directors and a vast roster of actors. He opens up about friends he loved, friends he lost, and the professional relationships that weren’t meant to be. Above all, Danny Aiello imparts a life lesson straight out of his own experience to anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider.

©2014 Danny Aiello (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Critic Reviews

"With his raspy voice, Danny Aiello brings the Manhattan of his childhood to life.... His heart and soul are present in his performance.... Throughout this gem, Aiello's integrity, grit, and, yes, polish come through loud and clear." (AudioFile)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I want to give Danny Aiello a big hug.

Aiello touches on so many great moments in movie history so relatable to my life and love of stage and screen.

He's a paradoxical mix of tough guy and teddy bear. I admire his strong values, philosophies, love of family and life. I especially love his ending words of wanting to be loved by as many people as possible. Love is the message and he truly has loved and been loved.

Thanks Mr. Aiello for making your life an open book for all to enjoy!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Heartfelt and Inspiring

What did you love best about I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else?

The warm and sincere delivery

What was one of the most memorable moments of I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else?

Danny's inability to get up the nerve to ask Sandy out

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When James Galdofini twice praises Danny

Any additional comments?

By far the most moving autobiography I ever read or heard. Danny holds nothing back about his life. Danny has and always will be one of my favorite human beings. A true sentiment of just an every day guy who had the guts to follow his heart and live his dream!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great history of a great actor coming up in Hwood.

Mr. Aiello takes you from his early, lean years on the streets, to being a bouncer and announcer in a comedy club, to being discovered, to filming "Fort Apache: The Bronx" on the very streets he grew up on.

Along the way, you learn the hard knocks of a great life, and the great breaks of a hard worker that, in a roundabout way, finally made it into a Martin Scorcese production.

For as much as Mr. Aiello is a part of our film consciousness, it is surprising he has not gotten more awards, parts, or recognition.

A great history of a great actor.

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An American Dream

Danny Aiello has a calming voice (even his f bombs are awesome) and is so humble, he is an American icon. After listening to his story, I listed all his movies and plan to watch each one. His story is what America is made of - grit and determination. Was disappointed to hear the Hudson Hawk story. However, when I watched the movie there is no hint of any issues between the actors - Danny is a pro.

We need more Danny on the big screen.