A major star in his native Mexico since 1935, actor Pedro Armendariz came to the attention of North American audiences with his sensitive portrayal of a man ruined by greed in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Pearl (1947). Thereafter, Armendariz was active on both sides of the border: several of his best-known Hollywood films, such as The Fugitive (1947) and Three Godfathers (1948), were directed by John Ford. It is difficult to assess which of the actor's film was his best, less difficult to pinpoint his worst. That would have to be The Conqueror (1956), a moron's-eye-view of the life of Genghis Khan starring John Wayne. While modern-day viewings of The Conqueror evoke loud laughter at its idiotic dialogue and overblown performances, the film's risibility is clouded by tragedy. The film was shot on location in Utah not far from where the U.S. government was testing its atomic bombs. In the three decades following the Conqueror, many of the people involved in the making of the film developed cancer, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, Richard Boone, director Dick Powell...and Armendariz. Viewers who enjoyed Armendariz's final performance as witty Turkish spy Karim Bey in the James Bond picture From Russia With Love (1963) could not help but notice that the usually corpulent actor was far thinner than he'd been in such earlier films as Captain Sinbad (1963); the fact was that Armendariz was suffering from lymph cancer. Unwilling to suffer the lingering death that would be the fate of many of the Conqueror participants, Armendariz shot himself in his room at the UCLA Medical Center.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Viniendo de una familia de actores, tanto él como su padre interpretaron a Pancho Villa. Y también los dos actuaron en la saga del Agente 007.
- Sus actuaciones en Hollywood incluye Licencia para matar (1989), El mexicano (2003) y La máscara del Zorro (1998).
- Fue galardonado con el Mayahuel de plata en el Festival Internacional de Cine de Guadalajara (2006). También se alzó con el Premio Luis Buñuel en el Festival Internacional de Cine de Huesca (2006).
- Apareció en más de 140 películas, tanto en español como en otros idiomas; entre las cuales están El crimen del padre Amaro (Carlos Carrera, 2002), Matando cabos (Alejandro Lozano, 2004) y La ley de Herodes (Luis Estrada, 1999).
- Tuvo un rol activo en la Academia Mexicana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas. Primero como secretario (1998-2006), y luego como presidente (desde 2006).