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Martin Scorsese: Childhood

Martin Charles Scorsese was born 17 November 1942 in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York. His parents, Luciano Charles and Catherine Cappa Scorsese, were second-generation Sicilian-Americans who worked in New York City's Garment District as a presser and a seamstress. His older brother Frank was born in 1936. When Martin was seven, economic pressures forced the Scorsese family to move from the relative comfort of the Queens suburbs to the tenements of the Lower East Side. Scorsese grew up in an apartment on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan's Little Italy neighborhood. "The world I came from was very much based on loyalty and trust, and even beyond family ties; it comes from the old Sicilian world where godparents were as important as blood relatives," Scorsese has said of the impact his upbringing had on his art. "And I think that's why so many of the stories I've done are rooted in a kind of tribal behavior that has to do with betrayal."3

Scorsese was a sickly and severely asthmatic child and he spent most of his youth inside the family apartment, watching other children play on the streets through the window and listening to his father and uncle talk about movies around the kitchen table. His father was a huge film buff. When Scorsese was 10, his dad took him to see The Magic Box, a British movie about the history of film. The movie marked ''the first time I understood what movies were," Scorsese later said, "and obviously I haven't been the same since.''4

Before he committed to a life in the cinema, however, Scorsese considered life as a man of the cloth. "I thought a lot about salvation, and it seemed that the best guarantee of being saved was to become a priest,"5 he later said. At the age of 14 he enrolled at Cathedral College seminary on the Upper West Side. His vocation coincided with a surge of teenage hormones, and his interest in girls and rock n' roll soon distracted him from his studies. He was kicked out of the seminary after a year. A movie career it would have to be.

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