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Raúl Juliá: 1940-1994: Actor, Humanitarian Biography - Fell In Love With Acting Early, Career Ranged From Shakespeare To Soaps, Theater Career Gave Way To Movies

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Raúl Juliá: 1940-1994: Actor, humanitarian.

Versatile stage and screen actor Raúl Juliá produced a huge body of critically successful work before his untimely death in 1994. The handsome Puerto Rican actor earned four Tony Award nominations on the New York stage, and played roles in such films as Kiss of the Spider Woman, Romero, Presumed Innocent, The Addams Family, and The Burning Season. A Chicago The actor added, "It is hard to explain what that experience feels like—making people laugh or cry, become moved or inspired—but it is unique. You become one with them." He also was passionately involved with the Hunger Project, an aid organization, and often chose roles that would bring attention to social injustice.


Raúl Rafael Carlos Juliá y Arcelay, the eldest of four children, was born on March 9, 1940, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was the son of Raúl Juliá and Olga Arcelay, an amateur singer. Juliá's father, who studied engineering in the United States, later opened an auto body repair shop and a chicken restaurant, and claimed to have introduced pizza to the island. Like most Puerto Ricans, Juliá was raised Roman Catholic. He credited his interest in the theater to his great aunt, María González, who was a singer of zarzuelas, or Spanish operettas. Juliá recalled life with his family as being very musical, dramatic, and full of laughter.

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