Joseph Calleia

Active - 1931 - 2013  |   Born - Aug 14, 1897   |   Died - Oct 31, 1975   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Crime, Western, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Maltese-born character actor Joseph Calleila first came to prominence as a concert singer in England and Europe. He made his screen bow in 1935's Public Hero Number 1, playing the first of many gangsters. Usually a villain, Calleila often leavened his screen perfidy with a subtle sense of humor, notably as the masked bandit who motivates the plot of the Mae West/W.C. Fields comedy My Little Chickadee (1940). In 1936, Calleila tried his hand at screenwriting with Robin Hood of El Dorado (1936), a fanciful western based on the criminal career of Joaquin Murietta. Joseph Calleila delivered some of his best and most varied screen performances in the last years of his film career, especially as the kindly Mexican priest in Disney's The Littlest Outlaw (1955) and the weary border-town detective in Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958).

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