Roberto "Bobby" Cannavale was born on May 3, 1970 (year unconfirmed) in Union City, New Jersey to a Cuban mother and an Italian father. When Bobby was growing up, his mother made sure that he wasn't going to get into trouble in the streets so she enrolled him into Catholic school, where he started performing in the church theater company. When he was eight, he was the lisping kid in "The Music Man". 

Bobby lived in New Jersey until he was thirteen. After his parents divorced, Bobby and his mother moved for two years to Puerto Rico. Later on he moved to Coconut Creek, Florida, where he graduated from high school before returning to New Jersey to live with his grandmother. 


As Bobby admits, he always knew he wanted to be an actor and in his early twenties he became part of Circle Repertory in Manhattan, a now defunct prestigious off-off-Broadway company. He never formally studied acting -- he acts on instinct. 

He began his acting career on stage, his numerous credits include Paul Rudnick's "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told";  Lanford Wilson’s "Virgil Is Still the Frog Boy", "Noel Coward's In Two Keys", "The Young Man and the World" and his favorite Georges Feydeau’s farce "A Flea in Her Ear". He is a member of the Circle Repertory Theatre and the Lab Theatre Company, both based in New York City.

Bobby's big-screen break came when he starred in two Sidney Lumet's features: "Gloria" with Sharon Stone and "Night Falls On the Manhattan" with Andy Garcia.It was the role of the paramedic Bobby Caffey on the NBC's drama "Third Watch", however, that made him a true celebrity. 


Bobby is married to writer and former actress Jenny Lumet, daughter of Sidney Lumet and granddaughter of Lena Horne. He met Jenny when he was acting on stage: "I was doing a theater show and when I bowed for the curtain call, I spotted [her] in the audience. I was playing a character who had AIDS, and when the play was over, I ran out to find her but I forgot to take the lesions off my face," he remembers. He introduced himself to her and recommended that she "stick around. There's a party afterwards and ... I want to talk to you.' We got married six months later."

Bobby, Jenny and their six-year-old son, Jacob, live in New York City.


Multi-ethnicity is part of Bobby's life, now more than ever, since his wife is half-Jewish, half-Black, and doesn't speak Spanish. Bobby has to make a conscious effort to teach his son the language he had grown up with, as well as aspects of his Cuban background he is so proud of. 

Bobby is proud of being Latino, but when he chooses a part, ethnicity as the only criteria just isn't enough for him. He simply looks for the best parts and sees how he can infuse them with integrity as he does with Bobby Caffey on "Third Watch." His job is to work and his Latino pride comes through. He simply tries to add color to his character by including his Latino culture."There was this one scene where my co-star said she was going to a concert with her ex-husband. I had to say something like, 'I like Cassandra Wilson but I wouldn't go [to a concert] with a complete asshole.' I just changed Cassandra Wilson to Ibrahim Ferrer. Simple stuff, but that does so much." 

Being Latino, what Bobby was taught by his mother and grandmother, affects his actions and reactions to life's adversities. As a Latino actor, he sees his work as an extension of who he is and not his culture. The Latino community is very proud of Bobby -- twice so far he co-hosted the Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards.

"When I grew up in Union City, NJ, there weren't many role models around," Bobby said. "I guess the biggest influences in my life were my parents who kept me off the streets and out of trouble. Now, we're celebrating Latin role models on national television."