Cesar Romero


Actor
Cesar Romero

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
February 15, 1907
Died
January 01, 1994
Cause of Death
Complications From A Blood Clot

Biography

He charmed his way into Hollywood's inner circle as "the Latin from Manhattan," but his fellow contract players at 20th Century Fox knew him as Butch, an ironic nickname poking fun at the reality that Cesar Romero would never play the boy next door. Of Cuban and Italian descent, Romero proved himself a dependable actor, as Marlene Dietrich's Spanish lover in "The Devil is a Woman" (1935)...

Photos & Videos

Marriage on the Rocks - Movie Posters
The Runaway - Lobby Card Set
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes - Pressbook

Notes

Tributes for Romero from friends and co-workers in Hollywood included words from Dorothy Lamour: "He was so congenial. There wasn't a phony bone in his body" and from Anne Jeffreys: "He was elegant and eloquent. His manners, his dress were impeccable. He was the last of an era." --From People, January 14, 1994.

Biography

He charmed his way into Hollywood's inner circle as "the Latin from Manhattan," but his fellow contract players at 20th Century Fox knew him as Butch, an ironic nickname poking fun at the reality that Cesar Romero would never play the boy next door. Of Cuban and Italian descent, Romero proved himself a dependable actor, as Marlene Dietrich's Spanish lover in "The Devil is a Woman" (1935), an East Indian rebel chief in "Wee Willie Winkie" (1937) with Shirley Temple, and Mexican pistolero The Cisco Kid in a string of Westerns. Popular before World War II in such Technicolor musicals as "Springtime in the Rockies" (1942) and "Coney Island" (1943) with Betty Grable, Romero transitioned easily from military service back to his duties as a character player, with occasional sidebars as a leading man in low budget independent programmers. As his pomaded hair and pencil mustache lightened to baronial platinum, Romero subspecialized in playing members of Europe's aristocratic diaspora, most memorably in Robert Aldrich's "Vera Cruz" (1954) and John Ford's "Donovan's Reef" (1963). A late career makeover came with his casting as the clown-faced Joker on ABC's "Batman" (1966-68), on which he peppered the Dynamic Duo with a fusillade of punishing practical jokes. Romero remained popular on television over the next 20 years, and enjoyed semi-regular status as a Greek billionaire on the primetime soap "Falcon Crest" (CBS, 1981-1990), before his death in 1994 brought an end to the distinguished career of one of Hollywood's most valuable players.

Cesar Julio Romero, Jr. was born on Feb. 15, 1907, in New York City. The son of Italian and Cuban parents, Romero was the grandson of Cuban poet José Marti, whose populist writings inspired the ballad "Guantanamera." Educated in preparatory schools in New York and Connecticut, Romero was pointed to a career on Wall Street, but by age 22, he was dancing on vaudeville and in New York nightclubs to help offset his family's losses in the stock market crash of 1929. With socialite Lisbeth Higgins, Romero formed Lisbeth and Romero: Aristocrats of the Dance. After hoofing as an ensemble dancer for Florenz Ziegfeld, Romero made his Broadway debut in 1929 in the musical "The Street Singer." He returned to the Great White Way in 1933 for a role in the George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber comedy "Dinner at Eight" and made his film debut that same year in "The Shadow Laughs" (1933), a low-budget murder mystery.

In Hollywood by 1934, Romero traded on his good looks to gain access into industry parties, where he passed himself off as "the Latin from Manhattan." He was extremely well-liked about town and could often be counted on to squire glamour girls like Carole Lombard and Joan Crawford about town. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer saw in Romero the potential shadow of Rudolph Valentino and cast him as a gigolo in "The Thin Man" (1934), whose unexpected success spawned a long-running series of glossy whodunits starring leads William Powell and Myrna Loy. Romero followed this with a featured role in "British Agent" (1935), pairing with British actor Leslie Howard in a drama set against the backdrop of the Soviet Revolution. Signing with David O. Selznick at 20th Century Pictures, Romero was put to work in a succession of ethnic roles, in such films as "Clive of India" (1935) with Ronald Colman and "The Devil is a Woman" (1935), directed by Josef von Sternberg; though fifth-billed, Romero was depicted in the film's ad campaign as sharing a romantic clinch with star Marlene Dietrich, which cemented his reputation as a Latin lover.

With the merger of 20th Century Pictures and The Fox Film Corporation, Romero became a contract player for the newly-minted 20th Century Fox. He enjoyed decorously ethnic turns in support of moppet movie star Shirley Temple in John Ford's "Wee Willie Winkie" (1937) and Walter Wang's "The Little Princess" (1939), played dentist-gunman Doc Holliday in Allan Dwan's "Frontier Marshall" (1939), and was Warner Baxter's sidekick in "Return of the Cisco Kid" (1939). Fox promoted Romero to the title role for "The Cisco Kid and the Lady" (1939) and he would stay with the series through six more installments. On the flipside of the law and order question, Romero was a swank illusionist unmasked as the murderous Dr. Zodiac by Chinese sleuth Sidney Toler in "Charlie Chan at Treasure Island" (1939). In the early years of World War II, he partnered with Betty Grable for the Technicolor escapist musicals "Springtime in the Rockies" (1942) and "Coney lsland" (1943). By this time, Romero had acquired the ironic nickname Butch, bestowed upon him by actor George Murphy.

After his military service, Romero teamed with Tyrone Power for Henry King's swashbuckler "Captain from Castile" (1947). As he aged into his middle years, Romero enjoyed a wider variety of roles for studios big and small. A flamboyant gangster in "Love That Brute" (1950), he played a sweaty adventurer chasing down dinosaurs in "Lost Continent" (1951), released by the independent Lippert Pictures. Standing out from the procession of forgettable programmers to which the actor turned his hand was his bid as a French marquis in Robert Aldrich's "Vera Cruz" (1954), starring Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster as gunmen afoot in Mexico after the American Civil War. Romero also made himself available to the medium of television, starring as globetrotting diplomatic courier Steve McQuinn on the syndicated "Passport to Danger" (1954-57). A dependable guest star, Romero also appeared in an episode of "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" (CBS, 1957-1960) that explained how Lucy McGillicuddy and Ricky Ricardo initially met.

In features, Romero turned up as elegant ex-gangster Duke Santos in the Rat Pack caper "Oceans 11" (1960), supporting headliners Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis, Jr., and held his own against alpha dogs John Wayne and Lee Marvin in John Ford's rollicking "Donovan's Reef" (1963). An unusual role for the distinguished actor was as a seemingly undead magician haunting daughter Connie Stevens in William Conrad's macabre "Two on a Guillotine" (1965), which seemed to pave Romero's way toward a return to the small screen and a recurring role as Gotham City arch villain The Joker on "Batman" (ABC, 1966-68). Romero also enjoyed a sort of low boil bastardy as scheming industrialist A. J. Arno in Disney's "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" (1969) and "Not You See Him, Not You Don't" (1972), in which his grand schemes were left in perpetual ruin by teenage star Kurt Russell and his collegiate brethren.

Having never lost his aristocratic good looks or trademark savoir-faire, Romero remained busy well beyond retirement age as a regular guest player on such network mainstays as "Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-1981), "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1977-1984), and "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS, 1984-1996). His last significant role was as a regular on the primetime soap opera "Falcon Crest" (CBS, 1981-1990), in which he played billionaire industrialist Peter Stavros, love interest of series lead Jane Wyman. A lifelong bachelor whose sexual preference remained one of Hollywood's best kept secrets, Romero was a committed conservative Republican and remained active in local charities, regularly serving Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless of Los Angeles' Skid Row. Felled by bronchitis and pneumonia at the age of 86, he died at Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, on Jan. 1, 1994.

By Richard Harland Smith

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Shirley Temple: America's Little Darling (1992)
Judgment Day (1989)
Octavio
Simple Justice (1989)
Mortuary Academy (1988)
Captain
Flesh and Bullets (1985)
Lust In The Dust (1984)
Father Garcia
Kino, the Padre on Horseback (1977)
Don't Push, I'll Charge When I'm Ready (1977)
Timber Tramps (1975)
The Strongest Man in the World (1975)
The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe (1974)
Dr Grimalda
Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972)
A. J. Arno
The Proud and the Damned (1972)
The Red, White and Black (1970)
Colonel Grierson
Latitude Zero (1970)
Malic
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1970)
A. J. Arno
Sophie's Place (1970)
Nick Marco
Midas Run (1969)
Dodero
Madigan's Millions (1969)
Mike Madigan
How To Make It (1969)
Lieut. George Duval
A Talent For Loving (1969)
Skidoo (1968)
Hechy
Hot Millions (1968)
Customs inspector
Batman (1966)
The Joker
Sergeant Deadhead (1965)
Admiral Stoneham
Two on a Guillotine (1965)
"Duke" Duquesne
Marriage on the Rocks (1965)
Miguel Santos
A House Is Not a Home (1964)
Lucky Luciano
Donovan's Reef (1963)
Marquis André de Lage
We Shall Return (1963)
The Castilian (1963)
Jerónimo
If a Man Answers (1962)
Robert Swan [Adam Wright]
Seven Women From Hell (1961)
Luis Hullman
Pepe (1961)
Ocean's Eleven (1960)
Duke Santos
Villa!! (1958)
López
The Story of Mankind (1957)
Spanish envoy
The Leather Saint (1956)
Tony Lorenzo
Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
Henchman of Achmed Abdullah
The Americano (1955)
Manoel Silva, also known as El Gato
The Racers (1955)
Carlos Chavez
Vera Cruz (1954)
Marquis de Labordere
El corazón y la espada (1954)
Pedro de Rivera
Shadow Man (1953)
Luigi
Prisoners of the Casbah (1953)
Firouz
Scotland Yard Inspector (1952)
Philip [Odell]
The Jungle (1952)
Rama Singh
Happy Go Lovely (1951)
Jack Frost
Lost Continent (1951)
Maj. Joe Nolan
F.B.I. Girl (1951)
Glen Stedman
Once a Thief (1950)
Mitch [Moore]
Love That Brute (1950)
Pretty Willie Wetzchahofsky
The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (1949)
Blackie Jobero
That Lady in Ermine (1948)
Mario
Captain from Castile (1948)
Hernán Cortéz
Deep Waters (1948)
Joe Sangor
Julia Misbehaves (1948)
Fred Ghenoccio
Carnival in Costa Rica (1947)
Pepe Castro
Wintertime (1943)
Brad Barton
Coney Island (1943)
Joe Rocco
Tales of Manhattan (1942)
Harry [Wilson]
Orchestra Wives (1942)
St. John "Sinjin" Smith
A Gentleman at Heart (1942)
Tony Miller
Springtime in the Rockies (1942)
Victor Prince
Dance Hall (1941)
Duke McKay
Tall, Dark and Handsome (1941)
Shep Morrison
Ride on Vaquero (1941)
[The] Cisco Kid [also known as Don Juan]
Romance of the Rio Grande (1941)
Cisco Kid/[Carlos Hernandez]
The Great American Broadcast (1941)
Bruce Chadwick
Week-End in Havana (1941)
Monte Blanca
He Married His Wife (1940)
Freddie
Viva Cisco Kid (1940)
[The] Cisco Kid
The Gay Caballero (1940)
The Cisco Kid
Lucky Cisco Kid (1940)
[The] Cisco Kid
The Little Princess (1939)
Ram Dass
Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939)
Rhadini
The Cisco Kid and the Lady (1939)
[The] Cisco Kid
The Return of the Cisco Kid (1939)
Lopez
Frontier Marshal (1939)
Doc Halliday [sic]
Wife, Husband and Friend (1939)
Hugo
Happy Landing (1938)
Duke Sargent
Always Goodbye (1938)
Count Giovanni Corini
My Lucky Star (1938)
George Cabot, Jr.
Five of a Kind (1938)
Duke Lester
Wee Willie Winkie (1937)
Khoda Khan
Dangerously Yours (1937)
Victor Morell [also known as Tony]
She's Dangerous (1937)
Nick Shelton [formerly known as Al Shaw]
Armored Car (1937)
Petack
Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)
Himself
15 Maiden Lane (1936)
Frank Peyton
Love Before Breakfast (1936)
Bill Wadsworth
Nobody's Fool (1936)
"Dizzy" Rantz
Public Enemy's Wife (1936)
Gene Maroc
The Good Fairy (1935)
Joe
Clive of India (1935)
Mir Jaffar
The Devil Is a Woman (1935)
Antonio Galvan
Hold 'Em Yale (1935)
Georgie, the Chaser
Show Them No Mercy! (1935)
Tobey
Cardinal Richelieu (1935)
Andre de Pons
Diamond Jim (1935)
Jerry Richardson
Metropolitan (1935)
Niki Baroni
Rendezvous (1935)
[Colonel] Nieterstein
The Thin Man (1934)
Chris [Jorgenson]
British Agent (1934)
[Tito] Del Val
Strange Wives (1934)
Boris
Cheating Cheaters (1934)
Tom Palmer

Visual Effects (Feature Film)

Collateral (2004)
Inferno compositor, Pacific Title and Art Studio

Cast (Special)

Adam West: Behind the Cowl (2000)
Carmen Miranda: The South American Way (1996)
Edna Time (1993)
The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
Dame Edna's Hollywood (1993)
Stars and Stripes: Hollywood and World War II (1991)
The Television Academy Hall of Fame (1990)
Performer
Mulberry Street (1990)
Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer (1990)
The 12th Annual Circus of the Stars (1987)
Happy Birthday, Hollywood! (1987)
The Rainbow Girl (1982)
Miles Starling
The Man from Everywhere (1961)
Tom Bowdry (Guest)
Manhattan Tower (1956)
Mambo Teacher
Entertainment 1955 (1955)
Guest

Cast (Short)

Academy Award Portfolio (1965)
Himself
Hollywood Hobbies (1939)
Himself
A Dream Comes True The Making of an Unusual Motion Picture (1935)
Himself

Life Events

1926

Met heiress Lisbeth Higgins at a fancy party; after dating and dancing together regularly, she suggested they form a dance team (date approximate)

1927

Danced with Higgins in the musical comedy, "Lady Do"; also danced with her and other partners in nightclubs and vaudeville (date approximate)

1930

Discovered dancing in the Montmartre Nightclub in Manhattan by producer Brock Pemberton; hired as a replacement for the leading actor in the hit stage comedy "Strictly Dishonorable", written by Preston Sturges

1934

Film debut, "The Thin Man"

1934

MGM lent Romero out a bit (e.g. To Warner Brothers for "British Agent" 1934) before cancelling his contract

1937

Had been lent out to 20th Century-Fox for several films; when Universal refused to raise his salary, Romero signed with Fox

1939

Made the first of half a dozen pictures over the next three years as the Cisco Kid, "The Cisco Kid and the Lady"

1943

Last film before enlisting in the military, "Wintertime", opposite skating star Sonja Henie

1947

First films after wartime service, "Carnival in Costa Rica" and "The Captain from Castile"

1950

Last film for Fox, "Love That Brute"; began freelancing

1951

Went to England to act in support of David Niven and Vera-Ellen in "Happy Go Lovely"

1954

Starred as Steve McQuinn in the syndicated TV adventure series, "Passport to Danger"

1963

Played leading role in the U.S.-Spanish co-production, "El valle de las espadas/The Castilian"

1968

Hosted the syndicated documentary TV special, "Cesar's World"

1989

Last feature films, "Judgment Day" and "Simple Justice"

Photo Collections

Marriage on the Rocks - Movie Posters
Marriage on the Rocks - Movie Posters
The Runaway - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from The Runaway, starring Cesar Romero. The film was produced in 1962, but went unreleased. It first aired on Turner Classic Movies. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for Disney's The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1970). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
The Runaway - Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity stills from the movie The Runaway, starring Cesar Romero. The film was produced in 1962, but went unreleased. It first aired on Turner Classic Movies. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Runaway - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from the movie The Runaway, starring Cesar Romero and Roger Mobley. The film was produced in 1962, but went unreleased. It first aired on Turner Classic Movies.

Videos

Movie Clip

Wee Willie Winkie (1937) - May Allah Bless And Protect Thee Through trickery Sgt. MacDuff (Victor McLaglen) has obtained a uniform for protegè Priscilla (Shirley Temple), commencing drills when she sees the chance to return a necklace she found to the now-imprisoned local chieftain Khan (Cesar Romero), in John Ford’s Wee Willie Winkie, 1937.
Devil Is A Woman, The (1936) - Where Are All The Pretty Girls? First appearance of Marlene Dietrich (as "Concha"), stalked by masked Antonio (Cesar Romero) at a Spanish carnival, early in director Josef von Sternberg's The Devil Is A Woman, 1936.
Devil Is A Woman, The (1936) - Better Take Two Spanish policeman and spurned lover Pasqual (Lionel Atwill) recounts to Antonio (Cesar Romero) his second meeting with Concha (Marlene Dietrich), at work in a cigarette factory, in Josef von Sternberg's The Devil Is A Woman, 1936.
Love Before Breakfast (1936) - She Ran After An Old Airedale Engaged New Yorkers Kay (Carole Lombard) and Bill (Cesar Romero), introduced here, have no idea that zillionaire Scott (Preston Foster) is behind the job offer that’s got him rushing for the boat to Japan, all meeting with the kooky countess (Betty Lawford) at the pier, early in Love Before Breakfast, 1936.
Ocean's Eleven (1960) - Tell Your Mother Hello Among the best scenes carried by actors other-than Frank Sinatra (title character Danny Ocean), as WWII buddies Sam (Dean Martin) and Jimmy (Peter Lawford) catch up, the latter chatting with his mother (Ilka Chase), considering the heist, before the ringleader joins, in the original Ocean's Eleven, 1960.
Springtime In The Rockies - It's A War Cry! McTavish (Edward Everett Horton) re-introduces himself to song and dance man Dan (John Payne) after a big night, while his partner Vicky (Betty Grable) performs with rival Victor (Cesar Romero), in Springtime In The Rockies, 1942.
Springtime In The Rockies - Is That Harry James Solid? Harry James and his band, fine Helen Forrest vocal to I Had The Craziest Dream, and a nutty sign-off by Iron Eyes Cody and brother J.W., as the scene shifts west in 20th Century Fox's hit Springtime In The Rockies, 1942.
Two On A Guillotine (1965) - Always A Greater Illusion Scary enough opening from director William Conrad (later TV’s “Cannon”), Cesar Romero stabs Connie Stevens, but wide shot reveals he’s a magician and she’s his assistant (and wife), Virginia Gregg the nanny etc. backstage, Parley Baer the PR man, in Two On A Guillotine, 1965, co-starring Dean Jones.
Little Princess, The (1939) - Buttons Are A Bother Bearing up at her new London school after her father's left for the Boer War, Sara (Shirley Temple) making friends with Ram Dass (Cesar Romero), Lord Wickham (Miles Mander), kindly teacher Rose (Anita Louise), and scullery girl Becky (Sybil Jason), early in Twentieth Century-Fox's The Little Princess, 1939.
Strongest Man in the World, The - Got a Job For You! Gangster A.J. Arno (Cesar Romero) and his sidekick Cookie (Dick Bakalyan) are offered an industrial espionage job by Harry (Dick Van Patten) on their release from prison in Disney's The Strongest Man in the World, 1975.
Vera Cruz - Open, Prologue Momentous opening credits from Robert Aldrich's titanic Western Vera Cruz, 1954, starring Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster, from a story by Borden Chase, photographed by Ernest Laszlo.
Vera Cruz - Fantastique! American mercenaries Ben Trane (Gary Cooper) and Joe Erin (Burt Lancaster) impress the French emperor of Mexico, Maximilian (George MacReady), with fancy shooting, in Robert Aldrich's Vera Cruz, 1954.

Trailer

Little Princess, The - (Original Trailer) Shirley Temple stars in her first color movie, The Little Princess (1939), as an orphan who must endure a nasty headmistress.
Racers, The - (Textless Trailer) A man (Kirk Douglas) alienates everyone around him on his goal to become a world-famous race car driver in The Racers (1955).
British Agent - (Original Trailer) Leslie Howard is the British Agent (1934) falling in love with Russian agent Kay Francis during the Bolshevik Revolution.
Donovan's Reef - (Original Trailer) A war veteran in the South Seas tries to salvage a buddy's reputation when the man's daughter comes calling. Director John Ford's last movie starring John Wayne.
Rendezvous - (Original Trailer) A decoding expert (William Powell) tangles with enemy spies in Rendezvous (1935) based on the true-life adventures of the head of the U.S. Secret Service.
Vera Cruz - (Original Trailer) During the Mexican Revolution, rival mercenaries team up to steal a fortune in gold in Vera Cruz (1954) starring Gary Cooper.
Hot Millions - (Original Trailer) A computer whiz and his pregnant girlfriend set out to rob a massive corporation in Hot Millions (1968), starring Peter Ustinov.
Captain from Castile - (Black & White Trailer) The invasion of Mexico by Cortez, as seen by a young Spanish officer fleeing the Inquisition in Captain from Castile (1948).
Julia Misbehaves - (Original Trailer) A showgirl (Greer Garson) returns to her stuffy estranged husband (Walter Pidgeon) when their daughter gets engaged.
Public Enemy`s Wife - (Original Trailer) An escaped convict's bride joins forces with the FBI in Public Enemy's Wife (1936) starring Pat O'Brien and Margaret Lindsay.
Thin Man, The -- (Original Trailer) A husband-and-wife detective team search for a missing inventor and almost get killed in The Thin Man (1934) starring William Powell & Myrna Loy.
Around the World in 80 Days - (Wide Release Trailer) A Victorian gentleman (David Niven) bets that he can beat the world's record for circling the globe in Around the World in 80 Days (1956).

Family

Jose Marti
Grandfather
Famed Cuban liberator.
Cesar Julio Romero
Father
Machinery exporter.
Maria Mantilla
Mother
Concert singer.
Eduoardo Romero
Brother
Survived him.

Bibliography

Notes

Tributes for Romero from friends and co-workers in Hollywood included words from Dorothy Lamour: "He was so congenial. There wasn't a phony bone in his body" and from Anne Jeffreys: "He was elegant and eloquent. His manners, his dress were impeccable. He was the last of an era." --From People, January 14, 1994.