Nestor Paiva

Active - 1938 - 1967  |   Born - Jun 30, 1905   |   Died - Sep 9, 1966   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Western, Action, Adventure

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Nestor Paiva had the indeterminate ethnic features and gift for dialects that enabled him to play virtually every nationality. Though frequently pegged as a Spaniard, a Greek, a Portuguese, an Italian, an Arab, an even (on radio, at least) an African-American, Paiva was actually born in Fresno, California. A holder of an A.B. degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Paiva developed an interest in acting while performing in college theatricals. Proficient in several languages, Paiva made his stage bow at Berkeley's Greek Theatre in a production of Antigone. His subsequent professional stage career was confined to California; he caught the eye of the studios by appearing in a long-running Los Angeles production of The Drunkard, which costarred another future film player of note, Henry Brandon. He remained with The Drunkard from 1934 to 1945, finally dropping out when his workload in films became too heavy. Paiva appeared in roles both large and small in so many films that it's hard to find a representative appearance. Fans of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby can take in a good cross-section of Paiva's work via his appearances in Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1945) and Road to Rio (1947); he has a bit as a street peddler in Morocco, is desperado McGurk in Utopia, and plays the Brazilian theatre manager who isn't fooled by the Wiere Brothers' attempt to pass themselves off as Americans ("You're een the groove, Jackson") in Rio. During his busiest period, 1945 through 1948, Paiva appeared in no fewer than 117 films. The familiar canteloupe-shaped mug and hyperactive eyebrows of Nestor Paiva graced many a film and TV program until his death in 1966; his final film, the William Castle comedy The Spirit is Willing (1967), was released posthumously.

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