Anthony Caruso (actor)

Anthony Caruso (April 7, 1916 April 4, 2003) was an American character actor in more than one hundred American films, usually playing villains and gangsters, including the first season of Walt Disney's Zorro as Captain Juan Ortega.[1]

Anthony Caruso
Anthony Caruso in The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Born(1916-04-07)April 7, 1916
DiedApril 4, 2003(2003-04-04) (aged 86)
OccupationFilm, television actor
Years active19401990
Tonia Valente
(m. 1940)

Life and career

Born in Frankfort, Indiana, the son of Italian immigrants Anthony Bagarelli Caruso and Augustina Taormina Caruso; his father was a fruit vendor. When he was ten years old, Anthony and his family moved to Long Beach, California, where he grew up. While acting at the Pasadena Playhouse, he met Alan Ladd, beginning a friendship that continued as they made 11 films together.[2]

Caruso's early acting experience included performing with The Hart Players, a stock theater company that presented tent shows. He also acted with the Federal Theatre Project and was a star in plays at the Hollywood Playhouse.[3]

He made his film debut in Johnny Apollo (1940).[3]

In some of his television roles, Caruso played sympathetic characters, like "Ash", on an early episode of CBS's Gunsmoke.

In 1954, Caruso played Tiburcio Vásquez in an episode of the western series Stories of the Century. He appeared in the first Brian Keith series, Crusader. Among Caruso's other Western credits was 1954's Cattle Queen of Montana. In 1957, he appeared in the fourth episode of the first season of the TV western, Have Gun – Will Travel titled "The Winchester Quarantine".

In 1956 Caruso appeared as Disalin with war hero Audie Murphy, Charles Drake and Anne Bancroft in Walk the Proud Land.

In 1957, Caruso appeared in episode "The Child" of NBC's The Restless Gun.[4] In 1959, he was cast as George Bradley in the episode "Annie's Old Beau" on the NBC children's western series, Buckskin.

That same year, he portrayed Matt Cleary on CBS's Wanted: Dead or Alive episode "The Littlest Client", with Steve McQueen. Also 1959, he also guest-starred on the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Sugarfoot, in the episode "The Extra Hand", along with guest stars Karl Swenson and Jack Lambert and the series star, Will Hutchins.[5] The same year he appeared in the 'Syndicate Sanctuary' episode of The Untouchables.

In 1960, Caruso played a Cherokee Indian, Chief White Bull, in the episode "The Long Trail" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. In the storyline, a group of Indians are being moved by the river vessel, the Enterprise, rather than walking the Trail of Tears to their reservation in Indian Territory. Harry Lauter and Dennis Cross appear with Caruso in this episode.[6]

In 1961, he appeared twice on the ABC/Warner Brothers drama series, The Roaring 20s, including the role of Lucky Lombardi in "The Maestro". He was also cast with Will Hutchins in a second The Roaring 20s episode entitled, "Pie in the Sky."[7] Early in 1961, he was cast as Velde in the episode "Willy's Millionaire" of the short-lived ABC adventure series, The Islanders, with Diane Brewster.

Caruso guest-starred in an episode of the ABC western series, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, based on a Robert Lewis Taylor novel of the same name. Caruso guest-starred three times on CBS's Perry Mason. In 1962, he played Keith Lombard in "The Case of the Playboy Pugilist." Also in 1962, Caruso played Cody Durham in "Cody's Code" on Gunsmoke. In 1965, he made two appearances, both times as the murder victim: first as title character Enrico Bacio in "The Case of the Sad Sicilian," then as Harvey Rettig in "The Case of the Runaway Racer."

In 1964, he guest-starred in the Bonanza episode "The Saga of Squaw Charlie" playing a Native American man shunned by almost everybody and with only two friends, Ben Cartwright and a little girl named Angela. In 1969 he starred alongside Ricardo Montalban in Desperate Mission, a fictionalized telling of the life of Joaquin Murrieta. From 1966 to 1970 he guest-starred three times on the long-running NBC western The Virginian, starring James Drury. In 1965 he guest-starred on ABC's The Addams Family as Don Xavier Molinas.

Some of his more memorable roles were that of the alien gangster "Bela Oxmyx" in the classic Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action", Chief Blackfish on the NBC series Daniel Boone, Mongo in the film Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, Sengo in Tarzan and the Slave Girl, and Louis Ciavelli (the "box man" or safecracker) in The Asphalt Jungle. Caruso played the comical character of the Native American "Red Cloud" on the 1965 Get Smart episode "Washington 4, Indians 3".

In 1970, Caruso made a guest appearance on the ABC crime drama The Silent Force in the episode "A Family Tradition." In 1974, he appeared in the final episode, entitled "The Fire Dancer," of the ABC police drama Nakia.

Family, personal life, and death

Caruso met his future wife, Tonia at the Alcazar Theater in 1939 in San Francisco, when the play she was in was closing and the play he was in was opening. In stark contrast to his screen image, Caruso was the consummate family man in private life, happily married for 63 years, and enjoying the simple pleasures of gardening and cooking. He was the father of son, Tonio, and daughter, Tina.[8]

Caruso died three days before his 87th birthday in Brentwood in Los Angeles, California. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.

Selected filmography


  1. Cotter, Bill (1998–2004). "Zorro Episode Descriptions: First Season (1957–1958)". Walt Disney's Zorro tribute site. Archived from the original on November 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  2. Bergan, Ronald (April 22, 2003). "Anthony Caruso". The Guardian. England, London. p. 23. Retrieved September 9, 2019 via
  3. "Yule Parade Draws Celebrities". The Hanford Sentinel. California, Hanford. November 15, 1975. p. 2. Retrieved September 9, 2019 via
  4. "The Child", The Restless Gun, DVD, Timeless Media Group.
  5. ""The Extra Hand", January 20, 1959". Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  6. ""The Long Trail", Riverboat, April 4, 1960". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  7. "Anthony Caruso". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
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