José Ferrer: Success and Survival (Hollywood Legends) (Hardcover)
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Jos Ferrer (1912-1992) became the first Puerto Rican actor to win the Best Actor Academy Award for the 1950 film version of Cyrano de Bergerac. His iconic portrayal of the lovelorn poet/swordsman had already won him the Tony in 1947, and he would be identified with Cyrano for the rest of his life. Ferrer was a theatrical dynamo with limitless energy; in 1952 he directed Stalag 17, The Fourposter, and The Shrike (which he starred in) on Broadway, while New York City movie marquees were heralding his appearance in Anything Can Happen. At his apex in the 1950s, Ferrer was in constant demand both in theater and movies. He capitalized on his Oscar with such triumphs as Moulin Rouge and The Caine Mutiny. Not content with merely acting, Ferrer soon became a force behind the camera, acting and directing such critically well-received films as The Shrike and The Great Man. Success proved difficult to sustain. In the late 1950s, such ambitious theatrical productions as Edwin Booth and Juno were critical and commercial flops, while film studios also lost their patience with him. By the mid-1960s, Ferrer took whatever roles he could get in films, television, or regional theater. In addition, Ferrer had a turbulent personal life. His first marriage to actress Uta Hagen ended in divorce and scandal. His personal and professional relationship with his Othello costar Paul Robeson landed Ferrer before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Ferrer's marriage to actress/dancer Phyllis Hill was marred by his infidelity, while his initial wedded bliss with singer Rosemary Clooney eroded as his career began to ebb while hers started to peak. In spite of everything, Ferrer managed to endure and was working practically right up to his death. Ferrer maintained his pride in his Puerto Rican heritage, donating his Oscar to the University of Puerto Rico while championing the work of Latino poets and playwrights. He continuously evolved, striving to remain relevant, stretching his talents (including cabaret, operas, musicals, and yes, ballet ), and writing the occasional guest column for major newspapers. Ferrer's life is an American success story and a testament to reinvention and resilience.
About the Author
Mike Peros chairs the English Department at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn, New York. He is author of Dan Duryea: Heel with a Heart, published by University Press of Mississippi, and also reviews films for NoHoartsdistrict.com.