The legendary gangsta hip-hop emcee Ice-T was born Tracy Marrow on February 16, 1958, in Newark, New Jersey. He moved to Los Angeles, California, to live with his paternal aunt after the death of his father while he was in the sixth grade; his mother had died earlier when he was in the third grade. His aunt lived in the South Los Angeles district of Crenshaw, colloquially referred to as South Central. He became immersed in the street life of the inner-city and eventually became a member of the West Side Rollin 30s Original Harlem Crips.
Ice-T’s first film appearances were in the motion pictures Breakin’ (1984) and its sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1985). These films were released before Ice-T released his first LP, although he has since stated that he considers the films and his own performance in them to be “whack”.
In 1991, he embarked on a serious acting career, portraying police detective Scotty Appleton in Mario Van Peebles’ feature film New Jack City, gang leader Odessa alongside Denzel Washington and John Lithgow in Ricochet (1991), gang leader King James in Trespass (1992), followed by a notable lead role performance in Surviving the Game (1994) in addition to his many supporting roles, such as J-Bone in Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and the marsupial mutant T-Saint in Tank Girl (1995). Marrow was also interviewed in the Brent Owens documentary Pimps Up, Ho’s Down, in which he claims to have had an extensive pimping background before getting into rap. He is quoted as saying “once you max something out, it ain’t no fun no more. I couldn’t really get no farther.” He goes on to explain that his pimping experience gave him the ability to get into new businesses. “I can’t act, I really can’t act, I ain’t no rapper, it’s all game. I’m just working these niggas.” Later he raps at the Players Ball.
In 1993, Marrow along with other rappers and the three Yo! MTV Raps hosts Ed Lover, Doctor Dre and Fab 5 Freddy starred in the comedy Who’s the Man? directed by Ted Demme. In this movie Ice is a drug dealer who gets really frustrated when someone calls him by his real name “Chauncey” rather than his street name “Nighttrain”.
In 1995, he had a recurring role as vengeful drug dealer Danny Cort on the television series New York Undercover, which was co-created by Dick Wolf. His work on the series earned him the 1996 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. In 1997, Marrow co-created the short-lived series Players, which was produced by Wolf. This was followed by a role as pimp Seymour “Kingston” Stockton in Exiled: A Law & Order Movie (1998). These collaborations led Wolf to add Marrow to the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Since 2000 he has portrayed Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, a former undercover narcotic officer transferred to the Special Victims Unit. In 2002, the NAACP awarded Marrow with a second Image Award, again for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, for his work on Law & Order: SVU. His participation in this series is somewhat ironic, given the early controversy surrounding his group Body Count with their song “Cop Killer”. Marrow also appears in the movie Leprechaun: In the Hood.
In 1997, he had a pay-per-view special entitled Ice T’s Extreme Babes which appeared on Action PPV, formerly owned by BET networks.
In 1999, Marrow starred in the HBO movie Stealth Fighter as a United States Naval Aviator who fakes his own death, steals a F-117 stealth fighter and threatens to destroy United States military bases. This movie is often criticized for its poor script, military inaccuracies, and significant use of footage from other movies. He also acted in the movie Sonic Impact, released the same year.
Ice-T voiced Madd Dogg in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as well as Agent Cain in Sanity: Aiken’s Artifact. He also appears as himself in Def Jam: Fight for NY and UFC: Tapout fighting video games.
Ice-T made an appearance on the comedy television series Chappelle’s Show as himself presenting the award for “Player Hater of the Year” at the “Player-Haters Ball”, a parody of his own appearance at the Players Ball. He was dubbed the “Original Player Hater.”
At WrestleMania 2000, Marrow performed his song “Pimpin Ain’t Easy” during The Godfather and D’Lo Brown’s entrance.
He also played as Hamilton in a 2001 thriller film named 3000 Miles to Graceland.
Beyond Tough, a 2002 documentary series aired on Discovery Channel about the world’s most dangerous and intense professions, such as alligator wrestlers and Indy 500 pit crews, was hosted by Marrow.
In 2007, he appeared as a celebrity guest star on the MTV sketch comedy show Short Circuitz. Also in late 2007, Marrow appeared in the short-music film Hands of Hatred which can be found online.
Ice-T was interviewed for the Cannibal Corpse retrospective documentary Centuries of Torment, as well as appearing in Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary Good Hair, in which he reminisced about going to school in hair curlers.
Ice-T is was also involved with the game Gears of War 3.