Ricardo Cortez: Wanted


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 films today are those of the Pre-Code talkie era, the early 1930s. These include: Montana Moon (1930) with Joan Crawford; Illicit (1931) and 10 Cents a Dance (1931), both with Barbara Stanwyck; the original version of The Maltese Falcon (1931), in which he played Sam Spade; the all-star Thirteen Women (1932) and the Al Jolson musical Wonder Bar (1934).  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.

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