Withhis dark good looks, muscular physique, heavy-lidded bedroom eyes, and easysmile, amateur boxer and Wall Street business man Jacob Krantz left Wall Streetto cut a dashing figure on the silver screen for over five decades. Few knewthat he was a Jewish man, when Paramount Pictures signed him in 1922, changedhis name from Jacob Krantz to Ricardo Cortez, and widely publicized him as a“Latin lover” in the style of Rudolph Valentino, Antonio Moreno, and RamonNavarro.
Heworked in silent movies with top directors and stars, including TheNext Corner (1924) with Lon Chaney, Cecil B. DeMille’s Feet ofClay (1924), The Pony Express (1925), Torrent (1926)with Greta Garbo, D. W. Griffith’s The Sorrows of Satan (1926), Mockery (1927)with Lon Chaney, and Excess Baggage (1928) with William Hanes.
Withinsix years, chaos took hold of topsy turvy Hollywood as the industry convertedfrom silent movies to talking pictures, yet Cortez successfully transitionedthrough Frank Capra’s The Younger Generation(1929), MontanaMoon (1930) with Joan Crawford, as Sam Spade in the first filmadaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1931), WonderBar (1934) with Al Jolson, The Big Shakedown (1934)with Bette Davis, Walking Dead (1936) with Boris Karloff, CharlieChan in Reno (1939), and John Ford’s The Last Hurrah (1958).
Renownedfor his professionalism, and for his ability to play a wide range of charactersin all genres, Cortez appeared in more than a hundred films and was recognizedas one of the movies’ premier heavies in a rogue’s gallery of sexy wastrels andtroublemakers, to more nefarious gangsters and maniacal murderers. In 1934, oneastute critic proclaimed him “the magnificent heel.”
Relivehis dramatic story, from his poverty-stricken childhood to Wall Street and onthrough Hollywood triumphs, tragedies, and scandals. The author draws from rarematerial gathered from key libraries and studio archives, much of which hasnever been published.
160illustrations, including portraits, scene stills, and memorabilia from Cortez’personal collection, including his last passport, scrapbook, a contract, andletters. Index, Bibliography, and extensive End Notes.
Aboutthe author: Dan Van Neste articles have appeared in Classic Images and Filmsof the Golden Age, and he is the author of The Whistler:Stepping Into the Shadows. He currently lives in Lansing, Michigan.
".. . one of the most interesting biographies I've ever come across . . . .”-Shadows and Satin blog
"If you ever wanted to know more about Ricardo Cortez, this 580-page book earns my seal of approval."
- Martin Grams Jr.
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