David Caruso

David Caruso Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: January 7, 1956

Age: 68 years old

Birth Place: Forest Hills, New York

Spouses: Rachel Ticotin

Infamous for the speed with which he jumped ship from his star-making turn as an unconventional sex symbol on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) - and more so for the speed with which his film career subsequently floundered - the redheaded Caruso survived public scorn to enjoy a second act success.

While his big screen work in the muscular remake "Kiss of Death" (1995) and erotic thriller "Jade" (1995) did nothing to justify his risky TV-to-movies career jump, Caruso persevered, doing good supporting work in lesser-seen projects like the Meg Ryan/Russell Crowe ransom thriller "Proof of Life" (2000) and the psychological horror film, "Session 9" (2001). Although his first attempt to return to series television in an appropriately humble manner - "Michael Hayes" (CBS, 1997-98) - failed to resonate with viewers, lightning struck again with the flashy lead role in the worldwide smash "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002-12). As Lt. Horatio Caine, Caruso won over audiences with his colorful character's campy one-liners, punctuated by a dramatic sunglasses-adjustment, and appeared to be fully returned to the public's good graces.

While his career ended up more of a rollercoaster ride than that of many of his peers, Caruso seemed steadier and more focused for his second chance at stardom.

Born Jan. 7, 1956 in Forest Hills, Queens, NY, David Stephen Caruso was the son of Joan, a librarian, and Charles Caruso, a magazine and newspaper editor. The pale-skinned, redheaded Caruso was of Irish and Italian descent, and raised Roman Catholic. His first role as a bellboy on the soap opera "Ryan's Hope" (ABC, 1975-1989) was uncredited and he notched a few unremarkable jobs in unremarkable movies, including as a college student killed by aliens in "Without Warning" (1980). He raised some eyebrows in regards to his talent as the meek recruit who almost drowned in the hit movie "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982), and as a young deputy who sees the error in Brian Dennehy's ways in "Rambo: First Blood" (1982), where he took his first crack at playing a cop.

Caruso first teamed with future "NYPD Blue" creator Steven Bochco for the first three episodes of "Hill Street Blues" (NBC, 1981-87), turning in a fine performance as a tough Irish gang leader, which prompted comparisons to James Cagney for both his edginess and the inevitable carrot top. He began an association with Abel Ferrara on the pilot episode of "Crime Story" (NBC, 1986-88) that would continue with the features "China Girl" (1987) and "The King of New York" (1990); the former as a psychopathic gangster, the latter as a sadistic Irish cop bent on dethroning Christopher Walken. He also played the mute agent Kit-Kat in the insane flop "Hudson Hawk" (1991), where a soft-shoeing Bruce Willis fought being upstaged by a dolphin-possessed Andie MacDowell or all-barrels-of-insanity-blasting Sandra Bernhard, but it was his acclaimed portrayal of Robert De Niro's macho partner in John McNaughton's "Mad Dog and Glory" (1993) that led to his star-making role.

In the heavily anticipated, ultra-controversial "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) Caruso played Det. John Kelly, a brilliant cop caught up in the complicated machinations of crime and corruption on both sides of the law. Urging viewer discretion, the groundbreaking series skewed very adult - including brief backside nudity of Caruso - and the soulful, intense actor became an instant sex symbol and break-out star of the new hit. Perhaps it was the show's exhausting schedule, the intense media focus on Caruso's skyrocketing fame or a combination thereof, but after one critically revered season, for which he garnered a Golden Globe Award, the actor asked for a substantial salary increase and other concessions from show creator Steven Bochco who, following a few weeks of highly publicized negotiations replaced him unceremoniously with Jimmy Smits.

Not since Farrah Fawcett-Majors had left "Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-1981) after only one star-making season had a lead actor's premature departure been met with such disbelief and disappointment on the part of newly minted fans. By Caruso's own later admission, he had not handled the transition from unknown character actor to TV superstar well, throwing tantrums on the set, alienating himself from co-stars like onscreen partner, Dennis Franz, and exiting gracelessly after Bochco called his bluff and refused to meet his excessive demands.

Defiantly, Caruso took a gamble on leaping from TV to features - a transition successfully accomplished by very few - and immediately set off a public and media backlash against the actor. Although he earned $1 million and good reviews from critics for his first starring effort, a remake of the noir classic "Kiss of Death" (1995) with Nicolas Cage, the film's failure at the box office coupled with the all-around failure of his follow-up, the erotic thriller "Jade" (1995) with Linda Fiorentino, effectively killed his movie career. Caruso's spectacular career flameout - brought about at least in part by the media feeding frenzy - gave naysayers plenty to gloat about. Making things even more bittersweet for the actor was the fact that post-Caruso, "NYPD Blue" was stronger and more respected than ever with Smits and Franz as the powerhouse leads.

Chastened publicly, Caruso returned to the small screen as the executive producer and star of "Michael Hayes" (CBS, 1997-98), a federal prosecutor based very loosely on the early career of New York's future Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. He starred opposite Marg Helgenberger in Showtime's "Elmore Leonard's 'Gold Coast'" (1997) and in "Cold Heart," which won John Ridley the Best Director Award at NYC's 1997 Urbanworld Film Festival. Later the same year, he shot "Body Count" with Linda Fiorentino and Forest Whitaker.

Still a considered the poster boy for the overweening, unrealistic ambition of Hollywood actors, Caruso kept his head down and worked steadily in features, earning particularly good notices for his supporting turn in the drama "Proof of Life" (2000) opposite Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan, and for his lead role in the low-budget but highly effective psychological horror film "Session 9" (2001).

In 2002, Caruso returned once again to network television as Horatio Caine on the CBS procedural, "CSI: Miami" (2002-12), the first spin-off from producer Jerry Bruckheimer's forensic franchise. The series proved to be a popular addition to the CBS lineup, and Caruso's performance was one of the main reasons. The oft-parodied cold openers to each episode featured Caine investigating a murder, and in the midst of doing so, making a snappy quip about it while donning his sunglasses moments before the show's screaming theme song kicked in. So popular was his tongue-in-cheek characterization that a bobblehead based on the character briefly captured the imagination of fans. While his good-natured but campy spin on the franchise divided some critics and fans, for the most part audiences enjoyed Caruso's goofier touches on the role. He seemed fully back in the good graces of a public that had earlier turned on him, making crossover appearances on all the "CSI" branches and ensuring that "Miami" remained the most successful and buzzed-about of all its incarnations.

In his personal life, Caruso did not manage quite as well at quelling controversy. Twice-married and involved throughout his career with a string of women, Caruso was sued in 2009 by an ex-girlfriend (and mother of two of his children) for supposedly breaching their settlement agreement and causing her emotional distress. (She lost the former charge and dropped the latter.) He also found himself the subject of an Austrian stalker who sent him threatening letters, but the troubled woman was subsequently sentenced to jail for her harassment of the actor as he continued to reign supreme on "CSI: Miami."

Credits

Cops in Crisis

Actor
Show
2014

The CSI Movie: Fallen

Actor
Movie
2013

CSI: NYStream

Guest Star
Lieutenant Horatio Caine
Series
2004

The Insider

Guest
Show
2004

CSI: MiamiStream

Actor
Series
2002

Session 9

Actor
Phil
Movie
2001

Black Point

Actor
John Hawkins
Movie
2001

CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationStream

Guest Star
Horatio Caine
Series
2000

Deadlocked

Actor
Ned Stark
Movie
2000

Proof of Life

Actor
Dino
Movie
2000

The Split

Actor
Hobbs
Movie
1998

Oscuro Amanecer

Actor
Movie
1998

Body Count

Actor
Hobbs
Movie
1998

Michael Hayes

Actor
Show
1997

Michael Hayes

Executive Producer
Show
1997

Gold Coast

Actor
Maguire
Movie
1997

Cold Around the Heart

Actor
Ned Tash
Movie
1997

Kiss of Death

Actor
Jimmy Kilmartin
Movie
1995

JadeStream

Actor
Matt Gavin
Movie
1995
16%

NYPD BlueStream

Actor
Detective John Kelly
Series
1993
83%

Judgment Day: The John List Story

Actor
Chief Bob Richland
Movie
1993

Mad Dog and GloryStream

Actor
Mike
Movie
1993
78%

Hudson HawkStream

Actor
Kit Kat
Movie
1991
31%

El Verdugo de la Noche

Actor
Movie
1990

Rainbow Drive

Actor
Larry Hammond
Movie
1990

King of New YorkStream

Actor
Dennis Gilley
Movie
1990
70%

Un Príncipe de Nueva York

Actor
Movie
1990

Into the Homeland

Actor
Ryder
Movie
1987

China Girl

Actor
Mercury
Movie
1987

Blue CityStream

Actor
Joey Rayford
Movie
1986
0%

The First Olympics: Athens 1896

Actor
James Connolly
Miniseries
1984

Thief of Hearts

Actor
Buddy Calamara
Movie
1984

First BloodStream

Actor
Mitch
Movie
1982
86%

Entertainment Tonight

Guest
News
1981

Hill Street BluesStream

Guest Star
Shamrock
Series
1981
97%

Crazy Times

Actor
Bobby Shea
Movie
1981

Without Warning

Actor
Tom
Movie
1980

CHiPsStream

Guest Star
Series
1977

News aboutDavid Caruso