How much did you know about the two time Oscar winner?
Did you know a lot about one of the most formidable actors of the 20th century?
Anthony Quinn’s movie appearances spanned some 65 years and netted him a bevy of awards. As he aged he took them and himself with emphatic seriousness. Some argue that unlike many topline stars, he didn’t get better as he got older (as, for example, did Paul Newman).
In the highly recommended memoir, Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them, stage and screen actor Frank Langella recalls his rather unpleasant encounter with Quinn.
‘Kneel!’ Anthony Quinn seemed to be saying when first we met. The encounter took place at a Hollywood reception in the early 1990’s, and Mr. Quinn was one of the very few majors stars in the room. Langella found the older actor cold and imperious…his aura was so sour and his sense of entitlement so pervasive that I was helpless to conquer my distaste for him.
(Quinn) appeared to me to be a man incapable of an introspective thought. A big bully in the school yard or an imperious mob boss looking to get both his ring and his ass kissed until death.
Ouch! Well, let’s immediately get to the answers to our Anthony Quinn Mini-Quiz. Here we go:
1) Question: Quinn didn’t play up his ethnic backround early in his career but did so later on when it became somewhat fashionable to do so. Where exactly was he born? a) El Paso, Texas; b) Mexico; c) Madrid, Spain; or d) Honduras.
1) Answer: b) Quinn was born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca in 1915 in Chihuahua, Mexico, the son of an Irish immigrant father and a Mexican mother (She was a full blooded Mexican from an Aztec background.)
2) Question: Quinn worked opposite many famous actresses during his screen career but which one of the following was both a great personal friend to the actor as well as his frequent costar? a) Lana Turner; b) Maureen O’Hara; c) Greer Garson; or d) Joan Crawford.
2) Answer: b) Maureen O’Hara, famous for being a “man’s woman” (she also befriended John Wayne), costarred with Quinn in six movies: 1942’s The Black Swan, 1944’s Buffalo Bill, 1947’s Sinbad, the Sailor, 1952’s Against All Flags, 1955’s The Magnificent Matador and 1991’s Only the Lonely.
3) Question: Quinn won two “best supporting actor” Oscars but which one of the following pictures generated his Academy Award as “best actor?” a) Viva Zapata!; b) Lust For Life; c) La Strada; or d) Zorba the Greek.
3) Answer: d) Quinn won best supporting actor Oscars for Viva Zapata! and Lust for Life, but snared a best actor award for playing ‘Alexis Zorba’, the lusty middle-aged title character in 1964’s Zorba The Greek.
4) Question: Perhaps Quinn’s most durable role is in 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia. What does he play in this David Lean classic? a) A Middle-Eastern diplomat; b) An American journalist; c) The title role; or d) A volatile Bedouin shaikh.
4) Answer: d) Quinn is memorable if somewhat miscast as a Bedouin shaikh in Lawrence of Arabia. Claude Rains plays the diplomat, Arthur Kennedy plays the journalist and, of course, Peter O’Toole commands the title role.
5) Question: Quinn and legendary director Cecil B. DeMille did not get along personally, but managed two interesting connections. What were they?
5) Answer: One of Cecil B. DeMille’s later productions — 1958’s The Buccaneer, a resounding flop — was directed by Quinn, who at the time was married to DeMille’s adopted daughter Katherine. Let’s say the marriage (which ended seven years later) and the assignment were related. Quinn’s career as a director was thankfully short lived.
Speaking of DeMille: We got a chuckle out of the following retraction printed in The Wall Street Journal. Here it is, word for word:
D.W. Griffith directed “The Birth of a Nation.” A review of the book “Hustling Hitler!” (“Taking the Reich for a Ride,” July 23) mistakenly attributed the film to Cecil B. DeMille.