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Anthony Quinn Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Apr 21, 1915
  • Died: Jun 3, 2001
  • Birth Name: Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn

Earthy and at times exuberant, Anthony Quinn was one of Hollywood's more colorful personalities. Though he played many important roles over the course of his 60-year career, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]]'s signature character was Zorba, a zesty Greek peasant who teaches a stuffy British writer to find joy in the subtle intricacies of everyday life in [[Feature~V56204~Zorba the Greek~zorbathegreek]] (1964), which [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] also produced. The role won him an Oscar nomination and he reprised variations of Zorba in several subsequent roles.
Although he made a convincing Greek, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] was actually of Irish-Mexican extraction. He was born Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn in Chihuahua, Mexico, on April 21, 1915, but raised in the U.S. Before becoming an actor, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] had been a prizefighter and a painter. He launched his film career playing character roles in several 1936 films, including [[Feature~V105581~Parole~parole]] (his debut) and The Milky Way, after a brief stint in the theater. In 1937, he married director Cecil B. DeMille's daughter Katherine De Mille, but this did nothing to further his career and [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] remained relegated to playing "ethnic" villains in Paramount films through the 1940s. By 1947, he was a veteran of over 50 films and had played everything from Indians, Mafia dons, Hawaiian chiefs, Chinese guerrillas, and comical Arab sheiks, but he was still not a major star. So he returned to the theater, where for three years he found success on Broadway in such roles as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Upon his return to the screen in the early '50s, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] was cast in a series of B-adventures like [[Feature~V101812~Mask of the Avenger~maskoftheavenger]] (1951). He got one of his big breaks playing opposite [[Performer~P8070~Marlon Brando~marlonbrando]] in [[Performer~P96965~Elia Kazan~eliakazan]]'s [[Feature~V52942~Viva Zapata!~vivazapata]] (1952). His supporting role as Zapata's brother won [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] his first Oscar and after that, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] was given larger roles in a variety of features. He went to Italy in 1953 and appeared in several films, turning in one of his best performances as a dim-witted, thuggish, and volatile strongman in [[Performer~P89547~Federico Fellini~federicofellini]]'s [[Feature~V27992~La Strada~lastrada]] (1954). [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] won his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar portraying the painter Gaugin in [[Performer~P103002~Vincente Minnelli~vincenteminnelli]]'s [[Feature~V30494~Lust for Life~lustforlife]] (1956). The following year, he received another Oscar nomination for [[Performer~P86340~George Cukor~georgecukor]]'s Wild Is the Wind. During the '50s, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] specialized in tough, macho roles, but as the decade ended, he allowed his age to show. His formerly trim physique filled out, his hair grayed, and his once smooth, swarthy face weathered into an appealing series of crags and crinkles. His careworn demeanor made him an ideal ex-boxer in [[Feature~V107632~Requiem for a Heavyweight~requiemforaheavyweight]] and a natural for the villainous Bedouin he played in [[Feature~V28608~Lawrence of Arabia~lawrenceofarabia]] (both 1962). The success of [[Feature~V56204~Zorba the Greek~zorbathegreek]] in 1964 was the highwater mark of [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]]'s career during the '60s -- it offered him another Oscar nomination -- and as the decade progressed, the quality of his film work noticeably diminished. The 1970s offered little change and [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] became known as a ham, albeit a well-respected one. In 1971, he starred in the short-lived television drama Man in the City. His subsequent television appearances were sporadic, though in 1994, he became a semi-regular guest (playing Zeus) on the syndicated Hercules series. Though his film career slowed considerably during the 1990s, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] continued to work steadily, appearing in films as diverse as [[Feature~V26773~Jungle Fever~junglefever]] (1991), [[Feature~V28280~Last Action Hero~lastactionhero]] (1993), and [[Feature~V134948~A Walk in the Clouds~awalkintheclouds]] (1995).
In his personal life, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] proved as volatile and passionate as his screen persona. He divorced his wife Katherine, with whom he had three children, in 1956. The following year he embarked on a tempestuous 31-year marriage to costume designer Iolanda Quinn. The union crumbled in 1993 when [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] had an affair with his secretary that resulted in a baby; the two shared a second child in 1996. In total, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] has fathered 13 children and has had three known mistresses. He and Iolanda engaged in a public and very bitter divorce in 1997 in which she and one of [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]]'s sons, Danny Quinn, alleged that the actor had severely beaten and abused Iolanda for many years. [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] denied the allegations, claiming that his ex-wife was lying in order to win a larger settlement and part of [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]]'s priceless art collection.
When not acting or engaging in well-publicized court battles, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] continued to paint and became a well-known artist. He also wrote and co-wrote two memoirs, The Original Sin (1972) and One Man Tango (1997). In the latter, [[Performer~P178362~Quinn~quinn]] is candid and apologetic about some of his past's darker moments. Shortly after completing his final film role in Avenging Angelo (2001), Anthony Quinn died of respiratory failure in Boston, MA. He was 86. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi