Tony Mordente

Active - 1961 - 1983  |   Born - Jan 1, 1933   |   Genres - Crime, Comedy, Drama

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Biography by AllMovie

Tony Mordente was born in New York City in 1933. Trained as an actor, dancer, and singer, his first major credit was in the role of Action in West Side Story, on which he also served as an assistant choreographer. He also had a short-lived recording career around 1960, on Roulette Records, which was hoping to capitalize on the success of West Side Story. Mordente concentrated primarily on stage roles during the early '60s, a period in which he was based in New York, and his only screen role, apart from West Side Story, came in 1963 with a small part in Love With the Proper Stranger. His early television appearances included two episodes of Combat during the series' first season, but it was his role as Genaro Planetta in The Outer Limits episode "The Invisibles" -- one of the most chilling in the series' output -- that showed him at the peak of his powers as an actor. Portraying Planetta, the fidgety, neurotic recruit into a secret society run by alien invaders, Mordente almost managed to steal the show from its star, Don Gordon, and a supporting cast that included such veterans as George Macready and Neil Hamilton, in what should have been an Emmy-nominated performance. Mordente turned to directing after the mid-'60s, and has proved equally adept at handling comedy, drama, or action subjects. He has helmed installments of M*A*S*H, Rhoda, Busting Loose, The Greatest American Hero, Family Ties, Quincy, M.E., The A-Team, Hunter, Matlock, and 7th Heaven, and was responsible for directing 37 episodes of Walker Texas Ranger during the series' first five seasons -- the latter credit puts him in the same league with his fellow West Side Story alumnus Gus Trikonis as a top small-screen action-adventure directorial hand. Mordente has been married to Broadway star Chita Rivera since the 1960s, and their daughter is the actress Lisa Mordente.

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