Catherine Scorsese was an American actress of Italian descent, often typecast as the typical Italian mother in films. Her best known role was that of Mrs. DeVito in “Goodfellas” (1990).
Scorcese was born under the name “Catherine Cappa” in 1912. She was a native of Little Italy, Manhattan, New York City, with both of her parents being Sicilian Americans. Her father Martin Cappa worked as a stage coordinator in theatre, while her mother Domenica owned her own shop.
The Cappas were a large family. Catherine had three brothers and five sisters. The family lived in a three-room apartment in Little Italy, sharing spaces with other relatives and boarders.
By the 1930s, Catherine was working as a machinist in the Garment District. In 1933, she married the actor Luciano Charles “Charlie” Scorsese (1913-1993), who was also working in the garment industry at the time. The bride was 21-years-old, while the groom was 20-years-old. The couple had three children, including film director Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese made her film debut in her son’s short film “It’s Not Just You, Murray!” (1964). She also played maternal roles in “Who’s That Knocking at My Door” (1967), “The King of Comedy” (1983), “Easy Money” (1983), “Goodfellas” (1990), and “Casino” (1995). She had bit parts in several other films. She appeared as herself in the documentary “Italianamerican” (1974), about the experiences of Italian American immigrants.
Scorsese made her last film appearance in “Casino”, at the age of 83. She was working at the time on her cookbook “Italianamerican: The Scorsese Family Cookbook”. It was completed and published in 1996, months before her death. It was her only published work.
Late in life, Scorsese suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, a chronic neurodegenerative disease. The disease eventually caused her death in January 1997. She was 84 at the time of death.