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Singer Joey Fatone first became a household name in the late 1990's as a member of the chart-topping singing group, 'N Sync. Demonstrating a propensity for performing at an early age, Fatone made his acting debut at the age of seven as an extra in Sergio Leone's final epic masterpiece "Once Upon A Time in America" (1984). The most prolific actor so far to come out of 'N Sync, Fatone used his time off from the recording studios in the early 2000's to forge a non-musical career in both film and television. While his laid-back, teddy bear persona made him a popular choice for comedic roles, Fatone showed off a broader range in subsequent years. A talented dancer as well, Fatone got a chance to strut his stuff in 2007 when he was tapped as a participant on "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ).
Born on Jan. 28, 1977 in Brooklyn, NY, Joseph Anthony Fatone, Jr. was the youngest of three children born to Phyllis and Joe Fatone, Sr. Though much of his childhood was spent growing up in Bensonhurst, Fatone moved to Orlando, FL with his family at the age of 13. There, Fatone shifted his creative focus from acting to singing. In his teens, Fatone became a member of a singing group known as the Big Guys. Fatone's rich, baritone voice - a gift he inherited from his father, Joe Sr., who was a former doo-wop singer - served the band well and helped the Big Guys gain quite a small, but loyal regional following.
After graduating high school in the mid 1990's, Fatone landed a job at Orlando's Universal Studios, Florida. There, he befriended a fellow employee and aspiring singer named Chris Kirkpatrick. As it turned out, the ambitious Kirkpatrick was in the process of putting together an all-male singing group with himself as the front man. With the assistance of music producer, Lou Pearlman, Kirkpatrick had already recruited former "Mickey Mouse Club" cast members Justin Timberlake and J.C. Chasez to fill two of the slots and signed on Fatone to be their fourth member. The circle was eventually complete when Timberlake's vocal coach steered the foursome in the direction of Lance Bass, a high school senior from Mississippi with an incredible bass voice. At the suggestion of Lynn Timberlake, Justin's mother, the band was dubbed 'N Sync - a title she derived by combining the last letter of each of their first names.
Launching their careers in Europe first, 'N Sync (or *NSYNC, as it was usually stylized) later conquered the U.S. charts. Their first album, 1998's self-titled *NSYNC spawned a number of Top 40 hits, most notably the chart topper "Tearin' Up My Heart" and the sugary sweet ode to puppy love, "God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You." 'N Sync's next effort, 2000's No Strings Attached, fared even better, selling over 2.4 million albums in its first week - eventually becoming their fastest selling album of all time. Not surprisingly, expectations ran extraordinarily high for their next album, 2001's Celebrity. Although the album did well - eventually selling well over 5 million units - sales for Celebrity fell far short of the 15 million copies sold of No Strings Attached. Soon after the completion of the Celebrity tour in 2002, 'N Sync issued a press release stating that the group would be taking a sabbatical from the recording studios.
While most of his colleagues utilized their time off to pursue solo musical projects, Fatone opted to resuscitate his acting career. His first major project was the ill-advised "On the Line" (2001), an uneven romantic comedy co-starring Fatone's band mate Lance Bass. A failure at the box office, "On the Line" was also heavily criticized by reviewers, particularly Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times , who characterized the movie as "agonizingly creaky" and "contrived." Learning his lesson, Fatone became more discerning in picking future roles. Wisely accepting smaller parts in more prestigious projects, Fatone turned his luck around in 2003, scoring a small, but memorable part as a callow lounge singer in director Wayne Kramer's critically acclaimed drama "The Cooler." Later that year, Fatone appeared as Cousin Angelo in the sleeper romantic-comedy, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (2003).
Eager to prove himself as a serious actor, Fatone took the unconventional route of going from films to stage work. In 2004, Fatone made his Broadway debut in the U.S. revival of "Little Shop of Horrors" in the role of Seymour Krelbourne. As a direct result of this, Fatone was later cast in the Broadway production of "Rent" in the central role of Mark Cohen. In 2007, Fatone was signed to be a celebrity contestant on the fourth cycle of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), where he became an early fan favorite.
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