Frank Pesce is being remembered as a talented character actor, as well as one of the stars and writers of “29th Street,” which has developed a bit of a cult following. “The Pesces in this movie have their origins in real people (indeed, the real Frank Jr. is a character actor who appears as his own older brother, Vito), but in ’29th Street’ they seem to emerge mostly from the long tradition of Italian-Americans in the movies,” Robert Ebert wrote in his review of the film.
According to producer David Permut, the movie nearly didn’t happen. “I had sold Frank’s real-life story to United Artists and hired George Gallo to write the script, only to find out afterward that Frank also had sold his exclusive life rights to Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer at Paramount at the same time!” he told Deadline. “I exploded at Frank, he then tried defend himself saying, ‘We’ll, there is no guarantee either studio would actually make the film after the scripts were developed, and a least I got two horses in the race, instead of just one.’ I was ready to kill him!”
Luckily, everything worked out in the end and the movie was made. Pesce is survived by his girlfriend, Tammy Scher, his brother, Vito Pesce, sister-in-law Catherine Pesce and nieces Vanessa and Danielle Pesce.