Born in Brooklyn of Puerto Rican parentage, Henry Silva supported himself with delivery jobs as he trained for an acting career with the Group Theater and the Actors Studio. Though definitely an "ethnic type," Silva's actual heritage was nebulous enough to permit him to play a wide variety of nationalities. He has successfully portrayed Mexicans, Native Americans, Italians, Japanese, and even extraterrestrials. Among Henry Silva's best-known film roles were the treacherous North Korean "houseboy" to Laurence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), the vengeful eponymous gangster in Johnny Cool (1963), and the shrewd Oriental title character in The Return of Mr. Moto (1965).
photo credit: David Livingston/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
by Hal Erickson biography