Against all odds, Anthony Quinn rose from obscurity to become one of Hollywood's most versatile and enduring stars.
Born into poverty in Mexico, Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn's family moved to Los Angeles in search of work and a better quality of life. Quinn spent his boyhood years helping to support his family by doing odd jobs.
Before becoming an actor, Quinn had been a prize-fighter and a painter. He launched his film career playing character roles in several 1936 films, including 'Parole' and 'The Milky Way', after a brief stint in the theatre. In 1937, he married director Cecil B DeMille's daughter, Katherine De Mille, but this did nothing to further his career and Quinn remained relegated to playing 'ethnic' villains in Paramount films through the 1940s.
By 1947, he was a veteran of over fifty films, but he was still not a major star. So he returned to the theatre, where for three years he found success on Broadway, in such roles as Stanley Kowalski in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.
Upon his return to the screen in the early 1950s, Quinn was cast in a series of B-adventures like 'Mask of the Avenger'. He got one of his big breaks, playing opposite Marlon Brando in Elia Kazan's 'Viva Zapata!'. His supporting role as Zapata's brother won Quinn his first Oscar and, after that, Quinn was given larger roles in a variety of features.
Quinn won his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar portraying the painter Gaugin, in Vincente Minnelli's 'Lust for Life'. The following year, he received another Oscar nomination for George Cukor's 'Wild Is the Wind'. The success of 'Zorba the Greek' in 1964 was the high-water mark of Quinn's career during the 1960s, and it provided another Oscar nomination. But as the decade progressed, the quality of his film work noticeably diminished, and Quinn was largely relegated to TV for the rest of his career.
Quinn has fathered thirteen children, and has been married several times. He died in June 2001.