Stars of Vaudeville #809: Ricardo Cortez
Today is the birthday of Ricardo Cortez (1900-1977). Hired by Famous Players-Lasky (later Paramount) in 1923 to be their answer to the Latin Lover craze, he was actually named Jacob Krantz, an Austrian Jew from New York with a background on Wall Street. Hired by the studio for his astonishing good looks, he was at best a competent actor and he never achieved the status of a Valentino with the public.
In 1930 he undertook a vaudeville tour, performing at the Palace in a well-received playlet called Wanted. His best known film today is the original version of The Maltese Falcon (1931) in which he played Sam Spade. In talkies, however, his limitations as an actor were even more apparent than they had been in silents. By the mid thirties he was playing bad guys in B movies. His initial run in Hollywood ran out in 1950 with Bunco Squad. After this, he returned to Wall Street, although he did make a couple of other screen appearances 1958-1960.
Here he is in the early talkie The Phantom in the House (1929):
To find out more about vaudeville past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc