Henry Silva, the gritty New York actor who played multi-ethnic thugs and heroes in a career noted for turns in a hat full of rain, The Manchurian Candidate Y cool johnny, has died. She was 95.
Silva died Wednesday of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, his son Scott Silva said the hollywood reporter.
Silva also played the draconian commander “Killer” Kane in Buck Rogers in the 25th century (1979), just one in a list of his bad seen in The high T (1957), the bravado (1958), The boss (1973), sharky’s machine (1981), about the law (1988), dick tracy (1990) and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999).
“Henry Silva is one of those guys that you will most likely recognize even if you don’t know his name,” once crime wave Magazine writer Dave Wahlman wrote in 2016. “His face is something straight out of the core cast if you were looking for a villain. He alternates between the insipid glee of potential chaos and looking emotionless and dead as stone.”
After appearing on Broadway in 1955-56 as the drug dealer called Mother in a hat full of rainSilva reprized the role for the 1957 film version directed by Fred Zinnemann at Fox. (He and Anthony Franciosa were the only stage actors to make the jump.)
He was menacing again as the evil Korean agent/servant Chunjin in the John Frankenheimer movie. The Manchurian Candidate (1962), one of four films he made with Frank Sinatra.
An honorary member of the Rat Pack, Silva also appeared with Sinatra on 11 ocean (1960) as one of the Las Vegas casino robbers, in Sergeants 3 (1962) as a Native American named Mountain Hawk, in the 1977 NBC telefilm Contract on Cherry Street as a Puerto Rican police officer and in Cannonball Race II (1984) as a henchman named Slim.
His connections to the Rat Pack were evident when he played a Sicilian-born hit man on United Artists. cool johnny (1963), a neo-noir cult classic that was produced by Peter Lawford and included cameos by Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr.
After playing the titular Japanese secret agent in The return of Mr. Moto (1965), retaking the role originated by Peter Lorre in a series of films from the 1930s, Silva traveled to Italy and Spain to make bloody hills (1966), a spaghetti western.
He went on to make dozens of films in Europe, most of which were of the Italian “poliziotteschi” genre. “Funny thing,” he said in a 1971 interview, “they see me as a bad guy here; in Europe they see me as a hero”.
The only child of parents of Sicilian and Spanish descent (he disputed reports that he was of Puerto Rican descent), Silva was born in Brooklyn on September 15, 1926, and raised in Harlem.
He dropped out of high school and worked as a dishwasher, longshoreman, and various other jobs before auditioning for The Actors Studio. He was reportedly one of five applicants out of more than 2,500 who were accepted.
Silva landed a small role for Elia Kazan in Long live Zapata! (1952), then made his Broadway debut for the director in 1953 in Tennessee Williams’ royal road. That play originated in an Actors Studio workshop, as did a hat full of rainwritten by future Godfather: Part II actor Michael V. Gazzo.
The rest of the ’50s saw him support westerns like The high T with Randolph Scott the bravado with Gregory Peck, The law and Jake Wade (1958) with Robert Taylor, Walk a crooked path (1958) with Audie Murphy and The Jayhawkers! (1959) with Jeff Chandler.
Surprisingly, Silva landed on 11 ocean when Sinatra saw him in a convertible at a stoplight on Doheny Drive and asked him to come to the studio the next day.
As the anti-hero Salvatore Giordano/Johnny Cool, he was paired with Elizabeth Montgomery, the future wife of the film’s director, William Asher.
Silva was fluent in Italian and Spanish, making him a natural for his European endeavors, including The boss, the italian connection (1972), Scream of a prostitute (1974), Almost human (1974), the hunting (1975), violent cops (1976), weapons of death (1977) and Escape from the Bronx (1983).
In the United States, he kept busy in Green Mansions (1959), Cinderella (1960), Animals (1970), love and bullets (1979), chained heat (1983), lust in the dust (1984), Chuck Norris code of silence (1985), Amazon women on the moon (1987) and The end of the violence (1997), and was ruthless again as the voice of Bane in a couple of Batman animated series.
His last credit was as a boxing spectator in 2001. 11 ocean Redo.
On Twitter, singer Deana Martin, daughter of Rat Pack’s Dean Martin, called Silva “one of the nicest, kindest, most talented men I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling my friend.”
Silva was married to Ruth Earl, an actress and dancer who appeared with her identical twin sister, Jane, in a Las Vegas act and in movies such as irma the sweet Y Damn Yankees! — from 1966 to 1987, and they had two sons, Michael and Scott.
His children wanted their father’s social media accounts (henrysilvaofficial on Instagram and @MrHenrySilva on Twitter) to “be featured in his obituary” so fans could pay tribute.
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