Pacino was born in New York City (East Harlem), to Sicilian-American parents Salvatore Pacino and Rose, who divorced when he was two years old. His mother moved near the Bronx Zoo to live with her parents, Kate and James Gerardi, who, coincidentally, had come from a town in Sicily named Corleone. His father, who was from San Fratello in the Province of Messina, moved to Covina, California, and worked as an insurance salesman and restaurateur.
He acted in basement plays in New York's theatrical underground but was rejected for the Actors Studio while a teenager. Pacino then joined the Herbert Berghof Studio (HB Studio), where he met acting teacher Charlie Laughton (not to be confused with the British actor Charles Laughton), who became his mentor and best friend. In this period, he was often unemployed and homeless, and sometimes slept on the street, in theaters, or at friends' houses.
Pacino made his return to the stage in summer 2010, as Shylock in a Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merchant of Venice. The acclaimed production moved to Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre in October, earning US$1 million at the box office in its first week. The performance also garnered him a Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Play. In October 2012 Pacino starred in the 30th anniversary Broadway revival of David Mamet's classic play, Glengarry Glen Ross, which ran through January 20, 2013.
Presently, he is starring on Broadway in "China Doll", a play written for him by David Mamet. It is a limited run of 87 performances, after acclaimed reviews of 4 performances in October 2015. The play is currently running as of November 2015.