Hispanic American Actors have made tremendous contributions to the American film industry. The performances of many notable Hispanic American film stars have been simply outstanding. Edward James Olmos, who is known for his role in the television show Miami Vice, has been extremely successful in his film career. Olmos starred in Stand and Deliver- a film about the Los Angeles educator, Escalante. He has starred in various films relating to violence and crime within Hispanic society.
Of the numerous Hispanic Americans featured in film, a few more well-known actors include Anthony Quinn, Gilbert Roland, Martin Sheen, JosÃ© Ferrer, and Jimmy Smits.
There is racial discrimination in Hollywood, and white skin is still on the top of the racial hierarchy. Hispanic Americans have a wide range of skin colors and shades, but the sad reality is that it will take little more time before Hollywood revises its policy with respect to the skin color of the fast growing Hispanic American community. As of now, not even the rich comedian George Lopez has been able to cross the line.
1. Bodie Olmos
Bodie James Olmos was born to Edward James Olmos and Kaija in Los Angeles on August 27, 1975. He is a second generation actor, and he made his first appearance on screen in The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez in 1982 when he was only 7. He was educated at UCLA’s School of Theatre in Los Angeles and the Sanford Meinsner Center. He appeared in Battle Star Galactica along with his father ( who played the role of Lieutenant Brendan Costanza). He also acted in the film Walk Out, directed by his father. His other films include; Resilience, Splinter, Manejar, The Last Winter, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and Stand and Deliver.
2. Anthony Quinn
Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca, popularly known as Anthony Quinn was born in Chihuahua, Mexico on April12, 1915. He died in Boston, Massachusetts on June 3, 2001 at the age of 86. Antonio was a famous actor, painter and writer. He starred in some very famous and commercially successful films like, Lawrence of Arabia, Guns of Navarone, Lion of the Desert, Zorba the Greek, The Message, Fedrico Fellini’s La Starda, Viva Zapata, Lust for Life and Guns for San Sebastian. Anthony Quinn won the Academy award twice for Best supporting Actor, once for Viva Zapata and the other time for Lust for Life.
3. Emilio Estevez
Emilio Estevez was born to Martin Sheen and Janet Templeton in Staten Island, New York on May 12, 1962.He is a well known actor, director, and writer. He is a member of the Brat Pack and starred in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmio’s Fire. His other films are The Mighty Ducks, Repo Man, Maximum Overdrive, Bobby and The Outsiders. Estevez has won many awards which include; a Venice Film Festival award, a Biografilm Award in 2006, a Phoenix Film Critics society Award in 2006 (for Bobby), a Hollywood Film Festival Award in 2006 and a Western Heritage Award in 1989. He was nominated once for a Golden Globe award and five times for ALMA awards. He received his early education at Santa Monica High School, where he made a short anti-nuclear film called Meet Mr. Bomb.
4. Gilbert Roland
Gilbert Roland (birth name Luis Antonio Damaso de Alonso) was born in Juarez, Mexico on December 11, 1905. He died in Beverly Hills, California on May 15, 2004 at the age of 66. Initially Roland wanted to be a bull fighter like his father, but after having been once selected at random as an extra he found he was naturally inclined to acting. Roland selected his stage name from his two favorite actors; John Gilberth and Ruth Roland. He was usually cast as a typical latin lover. He was nominated twice for Golden Globe Awards; the first time being for his outstanding performance in The Bad and the Beautiful, and the second time for his role in Cheyenne Autumn. Gilbert Ronald has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
5. Jose Vicente Ferrer
Jose Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintron, better known as Jose Vicente Ferrer, was born to Maria Provedencia Cintron and Rafael Ferrer in Santruce, San Juan, and Puerto Rico on January 8, 1912 and died in Coral Gables, Florida, US on January 26, 1992 at the age of 80.He received his early education at Swiss Boarding School Institute Le Rosy and graduated from the Princeton University in 1933. In the 1943 Broadway production ‘Othello’ he played the Role of Iago while his wife played the role of ‘Desdemona’. Shakespeare’s Drama Othello was the longest play in the history of US and the record remains still unbroken. Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA) renamed its Tespis Award as The HOLA Jose Ferrer Tespis Award in his honor.
6. Andy Garcia
Andres Arturo Garcia Menendez, commonly known as Andy Garcia was born to Amelie and Rene Garcia Nunez in Havana, Cuba on April 12, 1956.He received his early education at Miami Beach Senior High School and later on, was educated at Florida International University. He was nominated once for an Academy Award, 6 times for ALMA Awards and won the ‘Anthony Quinn Award for Achievement in Motion Pictures’ in 2006. He also won Nostros Golden Eagle Award as ‘Outstanding Performer in Film’ in 1997.
7. Ricardo Montalban
Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalban y Merino, commonly known as Ricardo Montalba was born in Mexico City on November 25, 1920. He died in Los Angeles, California on January 14, 2009 at the age of 88. His career spanned over 60 years.He was a TV, Theater and Film actor. He appeared in advertisements of Chrysler Cordoba and Chrysler New Yorker. He played in the original Star Trek Series. In 1978 Ricardo Montalban won an Emmy Award for his performance in How the West was Won. In 1993 he won a life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild.
8. Freddie Prinze
Frederick Karl Pruetzel commonly know as Freddie Prinze was born to Edward Karl Pruetzel and Maria Graniela Pryetzel in New York, US on June 22, 1954. He died in Los Angeles, California, US on January22, 1977 at the young age of only 22.He was raised in Washington Heights, New York City, got early education at Lutheran School, and later attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts. He learned Ballet but explored the gifted comedian within himself. Prinze starred in a made for TV movie called The Million Dollar Rip Off’. Just four months prior to his death, he signed a contract for $ 6 million with NBC. He started learning martial arts from Robert Wall; a student of Bruce Lee. He committed suicide on January 28, 1977.
9. Erik Estrada
Henry Enrique Estrada better known as Erik Estrada was born to Renildo in New York City, on March 16, 1949. He made debut in the film The Cross and the Switchblades’ in 1970. In the 1975 film Airport he played the role of flight engineer on a Boeing 747. He was nominated for ALMA and Golden Globe Awards. He won a Golden Globe Award in 1980 and was awarded a star in Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.
10. Jimmy Smits
Jimmy Smits was born to Cornelius Smits and Emilina in Brooklyn, New York on July 9, 1955. He got his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1980 and a Master of Fine Arts from Cornell University in 1982.He is best known for his roles; as Attorney Victor Sifuentes in L.A.Law, detective Bobby Simon in NYPD Blue, President MatthewVincent Santros in the West Wing, Bail Organain in Star Wars Prequel Triology and Miquel Prado. In 1999 Jimmy Smits received HOLA Award (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors) award for excellence.
Acting is at times paradoxical to the real life of actors. What a tragedy that the Comedian Freddie Prinze shot himself dead with a pistol at as young an age as 22! And what a contrast that Jose Vicente Ferrer played as Iago and his Wife, the real life partner as ‘Desdemona’ in Shakespeare’s drama ‘Othello. Contrary to the common oppinion that acting is learning and imitating others, acting is in fact to unlearn one’s own habits and personality so that one might perform as someone else.