José Ferrer

Active - 1948 - 2011  |   Born - Jan 8, 1912 in Santurce, Puerto Rico  |   Died - Jan 26, 1992   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Action

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Biography by AllMovie

José Ferrer (born José Vincente Ferrer de Otero y Cintron in Puerto Rico) decided to become an actor while in college. Early in his career he appeared with James Stewart and Joshua Logan at the Triangle Theater. In 1935 he debuted on Broadway with a walk-on part; he soon began to land bigger roles and quickly established his reputation as a highly versatile actor, performing in roles ranging from the comic title role in Charlie's Aunt to the evil Iago in Othello, and he began directing Broadway productions in 1942. Ferrer debuted onscreen as the Dauphin opposite Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc (1948), for which he received a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar nomination. He later became internationally famous, and won a "Best Actor" Oscar for reprising his theatrical lead in the film version of Cyrano de Bergerac (1950). Ferrer earned another Oscar nomination for his portrayal of painter Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge (1952). While both roles definitely enhanced his career, he later complained that they lead him to become typecast, and sometimes went years between film offers. In the mid-'50s he began directing films (usually ones in which he appeared), starting with The Shrike (1955). Also in the mid-'50s he made several successful recordings with his third wife, singer Rosemary Clooney. After 1962 he gave up directing and concentrated on stage and screen character acting, usually being typecast in his films as a swarthy foreigner. He continued to appear frequently in films into the '90s, meanwhile doing much TV work. His first wife was actress Uta Hagen.

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  • Family moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States when he was 6 years old.
  • Passed entrance exam for Princeton University at the age of 14, but took the school's advice to postpone enrollment for a year, during which time he attended school in Switzerland.
  • Became a Broadway luminary whose many roles included Iago in Othello (1942) and Cyrano de Bergerac, for which he won a Tony in 1947.
  • Made his film debut in 1948's Joan of Arc; among his best-known performances are as an attorney in The Caine Mutiny (1954) and a sadistic Turk in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
  • Was questioned by the U.S. House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee in 1951, denying accusations that he was a Communist.