Zorba the Greek
"In Europe, an actor is an artist. In Hollywood, if he isn't working, he's a bum." Anthony Quinn
Two-time Oscar winner Anthony Quinn had his glory years during the 1950s when he garnered awards for playing Emiliano Zapata's (Marlon Brando) brother in Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata (1952) and playing Vincent Van Gogh's (Kirk Douglas) friend in Vincente Minnelli's biopic Lust for Life (1956). Quinn's most prominent role was the titular role in Michael Cacoyannis' Zorba the Greek (1964), which offered him an Oscar nomination. An actor since the 1930s, Quinn starred in such films as La Strada (1954), Wild Is the Wind (1957), A High Wind in Jamaica (1965), The Magus (1968) and in the brief-running TV series "The Man and the City" (1971-1972). He was also nominated for a 1961 Tony Award for his Broadway performance in the play "Becket."
"I don't see many men today. I see a lot of guys running around on television with small waists, but I don't see many men." Anthony Quinn (speaking in the 1980s).
The departed actor, who died at age 86, was also known as a solemn painter. He became a naturalized US citizen in the 1940s and gained flawed attention for his marital indulgences. Quinn had three known wives (reportedly had five) and fathered 13 children.
Volatile, Passionate Quinn
Childhood and Family:
"It doesn't make a difference as long as I'm a person in the world." Anthony Quinn (on his ethnicity)
The son of an Irish father (Francisco Quinn) and a Mexican mother (Manuela), Anthony Rudolfo Oxaca Quinn was born on April 21, 1915, in Chihuahua, Mexico. He grew up in Los Angeles and worked as a shoe shiner and paperboy. Young Anthony won a scholarship to study architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, with whom he developed a close relationship. He also spirited across the border to El Paso, Texas, during the Pancho Villa revolution.
"I never get the girl. I wind up with a country instead." Anthony Quinn.
A volatile and passionate persona, both on screen and in real life, Quinn has had three known wives. On October 5, 1937, he married actress Katherine DeMille (adopted daughter of Cecil B. De Mille), but they were divorced on January 21, 1965. Three years later, he married Italian costume designer Iolanda Addolori, but divorced again on August 19, 1997. In that same year, he married his secretary, Kathy Benvin, who remained his wife until his death.
Quinn is the father of 13, including sons Ryan (born in 1996; mother: Kathy Benvin), Lorenzo Quinn (actor; born in 1965), Francesco Daniele Quinn (actor; born in 1962) and Christopher (first child; drowned when he was 4 years old in a pond at the home of W.C. Fields), and daughters Antonia (born in 1994; mother: Kathy Benvin) and Valentina Quinn (actress; born in 1952).
While not filming, Quinn would paint and sculpt. On Sunday, June 3, 2001, Anthony Quinn died of pneumonia and respiratory complications due to his battle with throat cancer. He died in a Boston hospital at the age 86.
Lust for Life
"They said all I was good for was playing Indians." Anthony Quinn
Forced to support his mother, grandmother and sister at age 11, Anthony Quinn did various odd jobs like working as a butcher, a boxer, street corner preacher and a slaughterhouse worker. He also played saxophone in evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson's orchestra and later performed in theater plays, which once included spoofing John Barrymore in a stage production of "Clean Beds" (starring Mae West).
After several stage stints, Quinn appeared as an extra in Leo McCarey's 1936 movie The Milky Way (starring Harold Lloyd) and made his feature acting debut in Lew Landers' crime drama Parole. He then joined his future father-in-law, director Cecil DeMille, in his biopic Western drama The Plainsman (starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur), by playing a Cheyenne Indian. More film roles arrived, including Swing High, Swing Low, Waikiki Wedding, The Last Train from Madrid, Partners in Crime and Daughter of Shanghai (all in 1937).
Quinn reunited with Cecil DeMille in his films The Buccaneer (1938, playing Beluche) and the Western story of the building of America's first transcontinental railroad, Union Pacific (1939). Meanwhile, he also appeared in the 1938's films Dangerous to Know, Tip-Off Girls, Hunted Men, Bulldog Drummond in Africa and King of Alcatraz. He also played roles in 1939's Island of Lost Men, King of Chinatown and Television Spy.
Victor Schertzinger cast Quinn to play Caesar, opposite Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, in his musical comedy Road to Singapore (1940). He was also seen in the films Emergency Squad, Parole Fixer, The Ghost Breakers, City for Conquest, The Texas Rangers Ride Again, Knockout (a.k.a. Right to the Heart), and Thieves Fall Out. He then costarred with Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell in Rouben Mamoulian's adaptation of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez's novel, the bullfighting drama Blood and Sand (1941).
Quinn played Crazy Horse, opposite Errol Flynn, in Raoul Walsh's western classic They Died With Their Boots On (1941) and rejoined Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in David Butler's Oscar nominated comedy The Road to Morocco (1942). In 1943, moviegoers remembered Quinn for costarring with Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan, playing Juan Martínez/Francisco Morez, in William A. Wellman's Oscar nominated film based on the best-selling book by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, The Ox-Bow Incident. The next year, he worked with Wellman again, playing Indian Yellow Hand, in his adaptation of a story by Frank Winch, The Ox-Bow Incident (starring Joel McCrea). During those years, Quinn acted in other films including Bullets for O'Hara, The Perfect Snob, Larceny, Inc., The Black Swan, Guadalcanal Diary, Ladies of Washington, Roger Touhy, Gangster and Irish Eyes Are Smiling.
Edward Dmytryk cast Quinn to portray John Wayne's second-in-command, Captain Andres Bonifacio, an earnest fighter trying to live up to his father's reputation, in his war drama Back to Bataan (1945). The middle of the 1940s could watch Quinn in the films China Sky, Where Do We Go from Here, California, Sinbad the Sailor, The Imperfect Lady, Black Gold and Tycoon. In 1947, he debuted on Broadway in a production of "The Gentleman from Athens" and starring as Stanley Kowalski, opposite Uta Hagen, in a nationwide tour of "A Streetcar Named Desire" from 1948 to 1949.
After nearly a four-year hiatus, Quinn returned to the big screen with the 1951 films Mask of the Avenger and The Brave Bulls. However, it was Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata (1952) that launched him toward stardom. In the film, about Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata (Marlon Brando), Quinn played the supporting role of Zapata's brother, Eufemio, and won his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
"We forget how he revolutionized acting." Anthony Quinn (on Marlon Brando).
The subsequent years saw Quinn in Budd Boetticher's films City Beneath the Sea (based on Harry E. Rieseberg's book, costarring Robert Ryan and Mala Powers), Seminole (alongside Rock Hudson and Barbara Hale) and East of Sumatra (with Jeff Chandler and Marilyn Maxwell, all in 1953). Quinn then became fairground wrestler Zampanò, who bought poor Giulietta Masina to be his wife and assistant, in Federico Fellini's Oscar winning film La Strada (1954). By this time, Quinn had appeared in a string of films, including The Brigand, The World in His Arms, Against All Flags, Angels of Darkness, Fatal Desire, Ride, Vaquero, Blowing Wild and The Long Wait.
Quinn played the title role of Attila (1954, US release 1958, opposite Sophia Loren), the leader of the barbarian Huns, in Pietro Francisci's film with the same name. He then reunited with director Budd Boetticher and actress Maureen O'Hara in The Magnificent Matador (1955), starring as an aging matador. He also made the 1955 films Ulisse, Seven Cities of Gold and The Naked Street.
Painter Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh's (Kirk Douglas) friend in Vincente Minnelli's biopic film based on Irving Stone's novel, Lust for Life (1956), nabbed Quinn his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Afterward, he starred as the hideous, hunchback bell-ringer Quasimoto in Jean Delannoy's remake of Victor Hugo's remarkable novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956, costarring Gina Lollobrigida). In the next year, Quinn was nominated for another Oscar for costarring with Anna Magnani in George Cukor's adaptation of Vittorio Nino Novarese's novel, Wild Is the Wind. He also made his directional debut with the remake of the 1938 film by Cecil B. DeMille, the swashbuckling historical adventure The Buccaneer (1958, starring Yul Brynner).
1958 remembered Quinn playing Sophia Loren's romantic partner, kindhearted widower Frank Valente, in Martin Ritt's comedy The Black Orchid, and in 1960, he costarred with Loren again in George Cukor's western comedy Heller in Pink Tights. Quinn then portrayed an Eskimo in Nicholas Ray's Savage Innocents (1959) and went back to Broadway to play Henry II in "Beckett" (he later switched roles with Laurence Olivier). His performance received applause and earned a Tony nomination.
J. Lee Thompson cast Quinn to play tough Greek patriot Colonel Andrea Stavros in The Guns of Navaronne (1961) and he starred as the title character in Barabbas (1962). Quinn also became the part of a used-up boxer in Requiem for a Heavyweight and played opportunistic Bedouin Auda Abu Tayi in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (both in 1962).
Another Oscar nomination arrived in 1964 after Quinn played the title role of Zorba, a free-spirited Greek peasant, in Michael Cacoyannis' adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel, Zorba the Greek (1964, costarring Lila Kedrova). He then played roles in A High Wind in Jamaica (1965), Mark Robson's Lost Command (1966) and in an adaptation of the Morris West novel, The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968). The end of the 1960s also saw Quinn in Stanley Kramer's The Secret of Santa Vittoria and starring as a robust man who wants to take his ailing son to Greece in A Dream of Kings (with Irene Papas).
The early 1970s watched Quinn play an Indian outcast in Carol Reed's Flap and star in the ABC short-lived series "The Man and the City," as Thomas Jefferson Alcala (1971-1972). In the film Across 110th Street (1972), Quinn both starred and served as executive producer.
Quinn played Theo Tomasis in The Greek Tycoon (1978), starred in The Basque in The Passage (1979) and played a Bedouin who battled Mussolini in Lion of the Desert (1981). After having an artwork exhibition in Hawaii, Quinn starred in a Broadway version of the musical "Zorba" and subsequently toured the state.
An Emmy nomination arrived after Quinn starred in the television movie Onassis: The Richest Man in the World (1988, TV). He then joined sons Francesco, Danny and Larry in Stradivari (1989, as Antonio Stradavarius) and teamed with children Valentina and Francesco in the NBC movie remake of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea (1990, as Santiago). After playing roles in A Star for Two and Only the Lonely (both in 1991) Quinn starred as Zeus in the syndicated TV movies, Hercules and the Amazon Women, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys - Hercules and the Circle of Fire, Hercules in the Underworld and Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur (all in 1994).
The mid 1990s saw Quinn playing sociable patriarch Don Pedro in A Walk in the Clouds (1995, starring Keanu Reeves) and portraying Neil Dellacroce in the HBO movie Gotti (1996). In 2001, he made his final big screen appearance as Angelo Allighieri, Sylvester Stallone's boss and a murdered Mafia chieftain, in Martyn Burke's Avenging Angelo, which was released after his death (2001), in 2002.
Besides acting, Quinn wrote and co-wrote two memoirs, The Original Sin (1972) and One Man Tango (1997). In One Man Tango, he is honest and regretful for some of his darker moments.
"I never satisfied that kid [referring to himself], but I think he and I have made a deal now. It's like climbing a mountain. I didn't take him up Mount Everest, but I took him up Mount Whitney. And I think that's not bad." Anthony Quinn
- Chamizal Independent Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003
- Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2001
- Huelva Latin American Film Festival: Prize of the City of Huelva, 2001
- Golden Camera (Germany): For lifetime achievement, 1996
- Golden Globe: Cecil B. DeMille Award, 1987
- Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Lust For Life, 1957
- Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Viva Zapata!, 1953