Cesar Romero

Cesar Julio Romero Jr. (February 15, 1907 – January 1, 1994) was an American actor, singer, dancer, and vocal artist. He was active in film, radio, and television for almost 60 years.

Cesar Romero
Romero in 1973
Cesar Julio Romero Jr.

(1907-02-15)February 15, 1907
DiedJanuary 1, 1994(1994-01-01) (aged 86)
Resting placeInglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California, U.S.
Other namesButch
The Latin from Manhattan
Alma materCollegiate School
OccupationActor, singer, dancer, voice artist, comedian
Years active1933–1992
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Coast Guard
Years of service1942–1945
Rank Chief petty officer[1]
Battles/warsWorld War II

His wide range of screen roles included Latin lovers, historical figures in costume dramas, characters in light domestic comedies, and the Joker on the Batman television series, which was included in TV Guide's 2013 list of The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time.[2]

Early life

Cesar Julio Romero Jr. was born in New York City on February 15, 1907, the son of Cesar Julio Romero Sr. and Maria Mantilla.[3] His mother was said to be the biological daughter of Cuban national hero José Martí.[4][5][6] His father was born in Barcelona, Spain and immigrated to the United States in 1888, where he was an import/export merchant.[7][8] His mother was a concert singer.[9]

Romero grew up in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, and was educated at Bradley Beach Elementary School, Asbury Park High School,[10] the Collegiate School, and the Riverdale Country Day School.[11] After his parents lost their sugar-import business and suffered losses in the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Romero's Hollywood earnings allowed him to support his large family, all of whom followed him to the American West Coast years later. Romero lived on and off with various family members for the rest of his life.[12][13]

On October 12, 1942, he voluntarily enlisted in the United States Coast Guard as an apprentice seaman[14] and served in the Pacific Theater of Operations. He reported aboard the Coast Guard-manned assault transport USS Cavalier in November 1943. According to a press release from the period, Romero saw action during the invasions of Tinian and Saipan. The same article mentioned that he preferred to be a regular part of the crew and was eventually promoted to the rating of chief boatswain's mate.[15]


The 6'3" [190 cm] Romero routinely played "Latin lovers" in films from the 1930s until the 1950s, usually in supporting roles. He starred as the Cisco Kid in six westerns made between 1939 and 1941. Romero danced and performed comedy in the 20th Century Fox films he starred in opposite Carmen Miranda and Betty Grable, such as Week-End in Havana and Springtime in the Rockies, in the 1940s. He also played a minor role as Sinjin, a piano player in Glenn Miller's band, in the 1942 20th Century Fox musical Orchestra Wives.

In The Thin Man (1934), Romero played a villainous supporting role opposite the film's main star William Powell. Many of Romero's films from this early period saw him cast in small character parts, such as Italian gangsters and East Indian princes. Romero had a lead role as the Pathan rebel leader, Khoda Khan, in John Ford's British Raj-era action film Wee Willie Winkie starring Shirley Temple (1937) and The Little Princess (1939) alongside Shirley Temple. He also appeared in a comic turn as a foil for Frank Sinatra and his crew in Ocean's 11 (1960).

Romero sometimes played the leading man, for example in Allan Dwan's 15 Maiden Lane (1936) opposite Claire Trevor, as well as winning the key role of the Doc Holliday character (with name changed to "Doc Halliday") in Dwan's Wyatt Earp saga Frontier Marshal three years later. 20th Century Fox, along with mogul Darryl Zanuck, personally selected Romero to co-star with Tyrone Power in the Technicolor historical epic Captain from Castile (1947), directed by Henry King. While Power played a fictionalized character, Romero played Hernán Cortés, a historical conquistador in Spain's conquest of the Americas.


Among many television credits, Romero appeared several times on The Martha Raye Show in the mid-1950s. He portrayed Don Diego de la Vega's maternal uncle in a number of Season 2 Zorro episodes.[16]

In 1958, he guest-starred as Ramon Valdez, a South American businessman, who excels at dancing the Cha-Cha with Barbara Eden in her syndicated romantic comedy, How to Marry a Millionaire in the episode entitled "The Big Order". He performed the mambo with Gisele MacKenzie on her NBC variety show, The Gisele MacKenzie Show. He guest-starred in 1957 on CBS's The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour on the first episode of the seventh season ("Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana"). He played "Don Carlos", a card shark on the episode, "The Honorable Don Charlie Story" of NBC's Wagon Train. On January 16, 1958, he appeared on The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. In 1959, Romero was cast as Joaquin in the episode "Caballero" from The Texan,[17] and on September 26 of that year, he hosted the Cuban installment of John Gunther's High Road.[4][18]

In 1960, he was cast as Ricky Valenti in "Crime of Passion" from Pete and Gladys. In 1965, Romero played the head of THRUSH in France in "The Never Never Affair" from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. From 1965 to 1968, he portrayed the Joker on Batman. He refused to shave his moustache for the role, and so the supervillain's white face makeup was simply smeared over it throughout the series' run and in the 1966 film.[19]

His guest star work in the 1970s included a recurring role on the western comedy Alias Smith and Jones as Señor Armendariz, a Mexican rancher feuding with Patrick McCreedy (Burl Ives), the owner of a ranch on the opposite side of the border. He appeared in three episodes.[19] Romero later portrayed Peter Stavros on Falcon Crest (from 1985–1987). He also appeared in a sixth-season episode of The Golden Girls, where he played a suitor named Tony Delvecchio for Sophia.[19] Apart from these television roles, Romero appeared as A.J. Arno, a small-time criminal who continually opposes Dexter Riley (played by Kurt Russell) and his schoolmates of Medfield College in a series of films by Walt Disney Productions in the 1970s.

Romero with actress Phyllis Brooks, c. 1940
Niche of Cesar Romero at Inglewood Park Cemetery

Personal life

Romero never married and had no children, but made frequent appearances at Hollywood events escorting actresses, such as Joan Crawford, Linda Darnell, Barbara Stanwyck, Lucille Ball, Ann Sheridan, Jane Wyman and Ginger Rogers; he was almost always described in interviews and articles as a "confirmed bachelor".[20] Romero talked about his homosexuality with author Boze Hadleigh in a series of interviews which were published in 1996 - two years after Romero's death, in Hadleigh's book Hollywood Gays.[21][22]

Charlie Harper, lead singer of English punk band UK Subs, was reportedly a nephew of Romero.[23]

A registered Republican, in October 1960, he appeared in the Nixon-Lodge Bumper Sticker Motorcade Campaign.[24]


On January 1, 1994, aged 86, Romero died from complications of a blood clot while being treated for bronchitis and pneumonia at Saint John's Health Center[25] in Santa Monica, California.

His body was cremated and the ashes were interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.[26]

For his contributions to the motion picture and television industry, Romero has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.




Radio appearances

1952Hollywood Star PlayhouseDiamonds of Gulaga[27]


  1. https://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/uscg/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApps?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=9164
  2. Bretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt; (March 25, 2013). "Baddies to the Bone: The 60 nastiest villains of all time". TV Guide. pp. 14–15.
  3. Candelaria, Cordelia. Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture, Volume 2.
  4. Handel, Charles. "A Look at TV: Gunther Plans Unusual Shows". Philadelphia Inquirer. September 7, 1959. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  5. Oliver, Myrna. "Cesar Romero, Suave Star for Over 60 Years, Dies at 86". Los Angeles Times. January 4, 1994. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  6. Marti, José; Allen, Esther. (2002). José Martí: Selected Writings. New York: Penguin Books. Page XXIX. ISBN 0142437042.
  7. Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1023; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0593; FHL microfilm: 1375036
  8. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 453; Volume #: Roll 0453 - Certificates: 1250-1499, 11 Jan 1918-14 Jan 1918
  9. Coons, Robbin. "Hollywood Sights and Sounds". The Gettysburg Times. March 2, 1936.
  10. Voger, Mark. "'Batman' TV cast on the creation of a camp classic", NJ.com, November 8, 2014; retrieved November 15, 2014. "CESAR ROMERO – The actor who created the role of the Joker lived in Bradley Beach as a child, and attended Bradley Beach Elementary School and Asbury Park High School."
  11. Adams, Marjory. "Movie Question Box". The Boston Globe. November 16, 1957. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  12. Thomas, Bob (AP). "Entertainment: Latin from Manhattan Danced to Hollywood". The Globe and Mail. June 22, 1984. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  13. Thomas, Bob (AP). "Cesar Romero, Actor, Dies at 86; A Suave Player in Films and TV". The New York Times. January 3, 1994. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  14. Wire service, "Cesar Romero Signs As Coast Guardsman", The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, October 13, 1942, Volume 49, page 9.
  15. U.S. Coast Guard Historian's website https://www.history.uscg.mil/Browse-by-Topic/Notable-People/Celebrities-and-Famous-People/
  16. Bill Cotter. "Zorro Episodes Descriptions Second Season: 1958-59". Bill Cotter. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
  17. "The Texan". Classic Television Archive. Archived from the original on April 8, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  18. "TV Highlights of the Week". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. September 26, 1959. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  19. Cesar Romero on IMDb
  20. "Ceser Romero". Emol.org. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  21. Hadleigh, Boze (1996). Hollywood Gays; ISBN 156-980-0839
  22. William J. Mann, Behind the Screen (2001), pp. 157-58
  23. "UK SUBS - Inland Empire Weekly". Ieweekly.com. Archived from the original on July 11, 2018. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  24. Nixon-Lodge Bumper Sticker Motorcade Campaign, latimes.com; accessed April 17, 2017.
  25. "Cesar Romero, Actor, Dies at 86; A Suave Player in Films and TV". The New York Times. 1994-01-03. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  26. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3rd ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 40453-40454). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition
  27. Kirby, Walter (November 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Newspapers.com. The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.