But it was the blazing trail he left on the movie screen from 1952 virtually until his death in 2001 that made Anthony Quinn such a presence in the cultural firmament. These are the roles we associate with him, embodying him as a primal force with an unquenchable passion for living. His major gift as an actor was his ability to convey that life force on celluloid, to imprint his three dimensional personality onto the two-dimensional screen.
Curiously, for all his legendary prowess as a ladies’ man, Quinn’s on-screen relations with women were mostly troubled. The tragic union of Zampano and Gelsomina in Fellini’s La Strada is emblematic of the friction that Quinn’s characters experienced with women. Tangling with volcanic wife Anna Magnani in Wild Is the Wind, with freespirited daughter Shirley MacLaine in Hot Spell, or with temptress Lana Turner in Portrait in Black allowed him to portray more complex, self-doubting characters. The steamy dance with Rita Hayworth in Blood and Sand or the misty, middle-aged Walk in the Spring Rain with Ingrid Bergman are notable exceptions. And his two outings with Sophia Loren, Black Orchid and Heller in Pink Tights, gave him his most unqualified shots at out-and-out romantic leads.
Left: Quinn's Academy Awards for best supporting actor in Viva Zapata! and Lust for Life and his 1987 Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award