Marisa Tomei (born December 4, 1964) is an American actress. Born and raised in Brooklyn to an Italian-American family, she was captivated by the Broadway shows her theater-loving parents took her to, and became drawn to acting as a career for herself. She attended Boston University for a year, then transferred to New York University in 1983 after landing a role in the soap opera As the World Turns (she would soon drop out of college as her career kicked into gear). She followed it up in 1987 with a role on the sitcom A Different World. Her breakthrough performance came in My Cousin Vinny (1992) for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She received a second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for In the Bedroom (2001). She has also done substantial work in the theater world, including lead roles on Broadway in Wait Until Dark (1998) and Salomé (2003), and many Off-Broadway plays.
There is an urban legend that Tomei's Oscar for My Cousin Vinny should have gone to someone else. The rumour goes that
during the 'Oscar' ceremony, Jack Palance announced Tomei as winner, while actually there was another name on his note. The mistake was considered too embarrassing to correct.
This rumour has been debunked by Snopes.