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Iron Eyes Cody Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Apr 3, 1904
  • Died: Jan 4, 1999
  • Birth Name: Espera DeCorti

While maintaining his whole life that he was part Cree and part Cherokee, actor Iron Eyes Cody was in fact born Espera DeCorti, a second generation Italian-American. He started out as a Wild-West-show performer, like his father before him. His earliest recognizable film appearances date back to 1919's Back to God's Country. While his choice of film roles was rather limited in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Cody made himself a valuable Hollywood commodity by offering his services as a technical advisor on Indian lore, customs, costuming and sign language. In between his TV work and personal appearances with the Ringling Bros. Circus and other such touring concerns, Iron Eyes continued accepting supporting roles in Hollywood westerns of the 1950s; he played Chief Crazy Horse twice, in Sitting Bull (1954) and The Great Sioux Massacre (1965). Far more erudite and well-read than most of his screen characters, Iron Eyes has in recent years become a popular interview subject and a fixture at western-movie conventions and film festivals. His famous appearance as the tear-shedding Indian in the "Keep America Beautiful" TV campaign of the 1970s recently enjoyed a "revival" on cable television. In 1982, Cody wrote his enjoyably candid autobiography, in which several high-profile movie stars were given the "emperor has no clothes" treatment. As well as being an actor, Cody owns an enormous collection of Indian artifacts, costumes, books and artwork; has written several books with Indian themes; is a member of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Indian Center, the Southwest Museum and the Los Angeles Library Association; is vice-president of the Little Big Horn Indian Association; is a member of the Verdugo Council of the Boy Scouts of America; and has participated as Grand Marshal of Native American pow-wows throughout the U.S. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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