This Anthony Quinn biography is the story of an incredibly prolific actor who appeared in over 200 movies in his career. Anthony Quinn should be recognized as a pioneer who paved the way for Hispanic actors to get taken seriously in Hollywood.
Anthony’s friends knew him as a passionate man who married three times, fathered 12 children, and never gave up his quest to find ways to speak to the human spirit through the arts—on and off screen. This Anthony Quinn biography presents just a taste of his many accomplishments.
Born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1915, Anthony Quinn seemed destined for adventure. Indeed, while still in the womb he participated in revolutionary marches under the banner of Pancho Villa.
By eight months of age, Quinn had escaped with his mother to El Paso Texas in a coal wagon. When Quinn’s father joined them about three years later, the family moved to California in search of work and settled in Los Angeles.
Anthony Quinn and His Interest in the Arts
From an early age, Anthony Quinn showed an interest in and talent for the arts. He won a statewide sculpting contest at age nine, and enjoyed sketching the movie stars he met while accompanying his father to work at Zelig’s Studio.
When Anthony’s father died suddenly, 11-year-old Quinn put art aside temporarily to support his family. He skipped school to take work as a migrant farm worker, a newsboy, a preacher, a taxi driver, and a welterweight boxer.
During this time, Quinn did participate in one important art contest. His design for a marketplace won him the opportunity to study with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The relationship with Wright proved instrumental to the development of Quinn’s future film career.
Anthony Quinn first began to explore the world of acting after Wright encouraged him to attend an acting school to improve his speech. While in school, Quinn performed in a well-reviewed play.This in turn led to other small parts in plays and movies. From 1936 to 1947, Quinn appeared in over 50 films, usually playing an ethnic character, often a villain.
In 1947, Quinn became a naturalized American citizen, and did not return to Hollywood until the early 1950s. He continued to specialize in tough guy roles.
His big break and the key moment in the Anthony Quinn biography came from his role in “Viva Zapata” alongside Marlon Brando. Quinn won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role, thereby becoming the first Mexican-American actor to receive an Oscar. He won this award a second time in 1956 for his role in “Lust For Life.”
Famous Anthony Quinn Movies
All told, Anthony Quinn appeared in over 200 movies in the course of his nearly 60-year career as an actor. Some of the most famous Anthony Quinn movies include:
- Viva Zapata
- Lust for Life
- Wild is the Wind
- Zorba the Greek
- The Guns of Navarone
- Laurence of Arabia
A Second Career
By the 1980s, Quinn’s film appearances had become fewer. He discovered a second career as an artist, drawing on a lifelong habit of creating small sculptures from bits of stone and wood found on site during film production.
Quinn made his sculptures larger with the intent of decorating his own home, but soon found others wanted to buy them. A gallery showing of his work in Hawaii sold out completely.
Last Days of Anthony Quinn
Roughly a month after finishing his last movie, “Avenging Angelo” with Sylvester Stallone, Anthony Quinn passed away at the age of 86. His legacy of moving the human spirit lives on in Anthony Quinn films and in his art.
If you are interested in knowing more about other famous Hispanic actors simply visit Hispanic Bios where I share many of the bios of inspiring Hispanics.