Anthony Quinn (officially named Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxca) was a Mexican-American writer, actor, and painter; born in Chihuahua, Mexico during the country’s revolution. Famous for his roles in a large variety of box office successes and critically acclaimed films, Quinn won the Academy Award for best supporting actor in two different motion pictures; Viva Zapata! (1952) and Lust for Life (1956). Though he never attended art school, Quinn acquired his personal education through museums and literary works; becoming an avid collector in the process. Upon receiving attention from numerous gallery owners during the early 1980s, Quinn’s artistic works were internationally exhibited in the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Mexico City. As a result, the total body of his artistic creations are now represented in collections both public and private around the world. In addition to his successful Hollywood career and artistic work, Quinn produced two different memoirs: The Original Sin (1972) and One Man Tango (1997).
Beginning his acting career with the theatrical production of the play Clean Beds, his film debut took place the same year in The Milky Way (1936), and Parole (1936). Some of his most notable contributions to Hollywood history took place in his early years of acting; specifically his specialization of ethnic villains in various films including Dangerous to Know (1938), They Died with Their Boots On (1941), and Road to Morocco (1942). By the end of the 1940’s Quinn had performed in over 50 different films; with roles ranging from Mafia dons, freedom fighters, Indians, Arab sheiks, and Chinese guerillas. Perhaps most significantly of all, the very first Oscar-awarded Mexican-American actor is Anthony Quinn.
Appearing in multiple Italian-made films during the 1950’s including an Eskimo trapped between two opposing cultures in The Savage Innocents (1959), Quinn’s acting began to manifest into a more character-driven style, allowing his age to become more visible with a less refined physique and more weathered face. Shifting to Broadway during this time, Quinn starred in 1960’s Becket as King Henry II opposite to Lawrence Olivier in the titular role. As he worked as a boxer at a young age to earn money, his real-life experience allowed him to deliver a masterful performance in the film The Guns of Navarone (1961) as a resistance fighter of Greek descent, Requiem for a Heavyweight’s boxer of age, and in Lawrence of Arabia’s (1962) Bedouin shaikh Auda abu Tayi. Receiving yet another Academy Award nomination due to the massive turnout of Zorba the Greek (1964), he performed in a series of films leading up to 1969’s The Secret of Santa Vittoria; all Golden Globe Award nominees.
During the early 1970’s after Quinn’s successful television movie debut as Mayor Thomas Jefferson Alcala in The City (1971), he then went on to perform a series as the popular character in the subsequent television series known as The Man and the City, taking place later that same year. Several years later after acquiring some experience in roles where he was required to portray a religious figure (such as Jesus), he starred as Hamza in the 1976 film Mohammed, Messenger of God; a story detailing the origins of Islam, performing as the titular prophet’s uncle. His third most famous success took place in his reprisal of the role of Zorba the Greek for over 350 performances in a musical rendition of the film known as Zorba; performing at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center and on Broadway. In the last years before his passing in 2001, Quinn starred in a sequence of television movies detailing the spectacular tales of the Greek god Hercules while performing as Zeus.