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Anthony Quinn: 1915–2001: Actor , Artist, Writer

Offered More Rewarding Roles

Quinn's multi-ethnic heritage had an acute effect on his sense of identity, which directly influenced his decision to become an actor and the various ethnic roles he played. "Those were rough times, right from the beginning," he said as he recalled his childhood in a 1981 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "With a name like Quinn, I wasn't totally accepted by the Mexican community in those days, and as a Mexican I wasn't accepted as an American. So as a kid I just decided, well, 'A plague on both your houses. I'll just become a world citizen.' So that's what I did. Acting is my nationality." Still, he was proud to portray Mexicans and Native American's in his films, seeing it as an opportunity to educate the audience. "I fought early to go beyond the stereotypes and demand Mexicans and Indians be treated with dignity in films."

After years of viewing his ethnicity as a disadvantage, Quinn began to realize its benefits. He returned to film in Robert Rosen's The Brave Bulls (1951). "The supporting cast was entirely Mexican, and I was thrilled to be in such company," he told the Guardian. "After so many years as the token Latin on the set, I found tremendous security in numbers. For the first time, I belonged." But it was his performance of the great Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata in Viva Zapata! (1952) that won him fame and his first Academy Award.

Quinn spent much of his time in Italy, where he worked with several acclaimed Italian filmmakers, including Dino De Laurentiis, Carlo Ponti, and Giuseppe Amato. It was his next film, Federico Fellini's La Strada (1954), in which he played dim-witted circus strongman Zampano, that forever changed his career and demonstrated his capacity to play a leading role. He won his second Oscar in 1955 for his portrayal of Paul Gauguin in Vincente Minnelli's Lust for Life and was nominated again for his performance in Wild is the Wind (1957), with Anna Magnani. He even tried his hand at directing, taking over for his father-in-law when DeMille became ill during the making of The Buccaneer (1958). However, under Quinn's direction, the film would become more of a pirate epic than the intimate, political drama it was intended to be. It would also be his last stab at filmmaking.

Quinn's acting career reached its peak in the early sixties when he appeared on Broadway as Henry II, starred opposite Lawrence Olivier in Jean Anouilh's Becket, and starred with Margaret Leighton in Francois Billetdoux's Tchin Tchin. He had simultaneous box-office success with the WWII drama The Guns of Navarone (1961), in which he played a Greek colonel, and with David Lean's WWII epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962). This was followed by another acclaimed performance, and one of his personal favorites, as an over-the-hill prizefighter in Requiem For a Heavyweight (1962).

He went on to play what became his signature role—the ouzo-drinking and bouzouki-dancing peasant in Michael Cacoyannis's Zorba the Greek (1964), for which he earned another Oscar nomination. He would reprise the role on Broadway nearly twenty years later in what would become one of the most lucrative revivals in history, grossing $48 million over four years. He never found a part of the same caliber despite a busy career that produced such films as A High Wind in Jamaica (1965) and The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969).

Quinn and DeMille's marriage ended in 1965 after he conceived a child with Iolanda Addolori, a wardrobe assistant on the set of Barabbas (1962). The marriage had lasted nearly thirty years, but Quinn had never been a faithful husband. He admitted to affairs with some of Hollywood's most glamorous women, including Carole Lombard, Rita Hayworth, Ingrid Bergman, and Maureen O'Hara. He married Addolori in 1966 when she was pregnant with their third child.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - PersonalAnthony Quinn: 1915–2001: Actor , Artist, Writer Biography - Escaped The Mexican Revolution, Debuted On Stage And Screen, Offered More Rewarding Roles, Focused On Other Talents