Anthony Quinn (1915-2001) is best known as an actor, starring in such films as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Zorba the Greek
(1964), and La Strada (1954), but he was also a writer and visual artist. He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, then his parents
moved to Los Angeles where Quinn grew up in Boyle Heights and Echo Park. Quinn was a boxer for a time and studied architecture
under Frank Lloyd Wright before starting his film acting career in 1936.
Quinn was under contract at Paramount and played characters of various ethnicities such as Native American, Crazy Horse, in
They Died with Their Boots On (1941) and a Chinese character, Chang Tai, in Island of Lost Men (1939). Quinn was a Mexican
national until he became an American citizen in 1947.
In 1947, Quinn played Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, replacing Marlon Brando. This led to director
Elia Kazan casting Quinn alongside Brando in 1952’s Viva Zapata! Quinn won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, making him
the first Mexican-American to ever win an Academy Award. He won the award a second time for his performance in Lust for Life
(1956). Quinn went on to star in many successful films throughout the 1950s and 60s. He was also active on Broadway.
After the success of the TV movie, The City (1971), Quinn reprised his role in the short lived television series, The Man
and the City (1971-1972), as the Hispanic mayor of a city in the American Southwest. His acting career continued until his
death in 2001.
Anthony Quinn was also involved in and had a rich interest in civil rights movements throughout the United States. In 1970,
Quinn was a panelist at the Mexican-American Conference. He attended events for La Raza and other groups. In 2001, the Los
Angeles Latino International Film Festival awarded Quinn their Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously. The National Council
of La Raza gives out an award named for Quinn, the Anthony Quinn Award for Industry Excellence, at the annual American Latino
Media Arts Awards.
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