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Anthony Quinn

The comments about cricketer Jack Russell having a second career as an artist prompted me to think of other film stars that emulated him. Yul Brynner and Gina Lollobrigida, who was 92 yesterday were excellent photographers but the only star I could think of who could really paint was Anthony Quinn though Edward G. Robinson had a magnificent collection of fine art.

Anthony Quinn was an interesting actor with a back story different  to many stars. He was the impoverished son of Mexican and Irish parentage born in Chihuahua.

His father came to Hollywood to find work as a cameraman but son Anthony came under the patronage of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and could have pursued a career as one himself.

Instead he got a role as an Indian in The Plainsman and for most of his career was cast in ethnic roles as Bedouin Leaders, Indians and most notably Zorba the Greek.

When I saw that 1964 film I assumed he was Greek as like most kids I loved him in The Guns of Navarone.

These team war films of the sixties and seventies were as much fun to watch and you felt the cast had in making though in the case of The Wild Geese there were so many rumbustious actors in the cast you wonder how it was ever made at all.

Despite marrying the daughter of Cecil B de Mille Anthony Quinn’s hispanic looks debarred him for many years from the star billing but he acted alongside 46 Oscar winners and was happy to oscillate between lead and supporting parts as in Lawrence of Arabia.

In his leisure time he loved to sculpt and paint.

His pictures rather like his acting were colourful, dramatic and powerful. He could sell these for $40,000 each.

Anthony Quinn was a varied character actor whom you could rely on for a convincing performance however weak the script.

In one sense though the character he played in so many roles was Anthony Quinn. 

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts