After being raised in several parts of Europe Duncan Renaldo arrived in the U.S. in the early '20s, having secured his passage as a stoker on a Brazilian coal ship (other sources say it was a Rumanian freighter that caught fire in Baltimore and left its crew stranded). He failed at his attempt to be a portrait painter, then tried to become a producer of short films; soon, however, he took up acting, signing with MGM in 1928. He played Latin lovers in late talkies and early silents. In 1932 he spent almost a year in prison on illegal entry charges filed by immigration authorities; he was later pardoned by President Roosevelt. After his release, he continued playing leads and supporting roles in minor films and serials. In the early '40s he was chosen as one of the Three Mesquiteers in a series of popular western films; within a few years he was starring in his own western series as The Cisco Kid, the role for which he is best known. He played the Cisco Kid in a popular TV series in the '50s, rarely appearing on the big-screen after 1950.