Fernando Lamas

Fernando Álvaro Lamas y de Santos (January 9, 1916  October 8, 1982) was an Argentine-American actor and director, and the father of actor Lorenzo Lamas.

Fernando Lamas
Lamas in the 1960s.
Fernando Álvaro Lamas y de Santos

(1916-01-09)January 9, 1916[1][2][3][4]
Buenos Aires, Argentina
DiedOctober 8, 1982(1982-10-08) (aged 66)
OccupationActor, director, writer
Years active1942–1981
Perla Mux
(m. 1940; div. 1944)

Lydia Barachi
(m. 1946; div. 1952)

Arlene Dahl
(m. 1954; div. 1960)

Esther Williams
(m. 1969; his death 1982)
Children3, including Lorenzo Lamas



Fernando Álvaro Lamas y de Santos[5] was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His movies included En el último piso (1942), Frontera Sur (1943), Villa rica del Espíritu Santo (1945), and Stella (1946). He appeared on Broadway in Happy Hunting.

Lamas was also seen in The Poor People's Christmas (1947), The Tango Returns to Paris (1948), and The Story of a Bad Woman (1948). He had the lead in La rubia Mireya (1949) alongside Mecha Ortiz, and a key role in De padre desconocido (1949), Vidalita (1949) and The Story of the Tango (1950). He also appeared in Corrientes, calle de ensueños (1949), and La otra y yo (1950). He was reportedly the third biggest star in the country.[6] His first American film was The Avengers (1950) for Republic Pictures shot on location in Argentina. Some scenes were filmed in the US, leading to Lamas going to Hollywood.[7]


In September 1949, he signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and went on to play "Latin Lover" roles.[8] In 1951, Lamas starred as Paul Sarnac in the musical, Rich, Young and Pretty with Jane Powell. He supported Greer Garson and Michael Wilding in The Law and the Lady (1952) which was a flop.[9]

MGM gave him a star part as Lana Turner's love interest in The Merry Widow (1952), a solid hit. He romanced Elizabeth Taylor in The Girl Who Had Everything (1952), which was also successful. Lamas went to Paramount where he was top billed in Sangaree (1953). Back at MGM he was Esther Williams' leading man in Dangerous When Wet (1953), a big success. At Warner Bros Lamas starred in The Diamond Queen (1954). He did Lost Treasure of the Amazon (1954) at Paramount then returned to MGM for a remake of Rose Marie (1954) supporting Howard Keel and Ann Blyth. It was popular but failed to recoup its cost.[9] At Paramount he was Rosalind Russell's leading man in The Girl Rush (1955). Lamas started appearing on television, including an adaptation of Hold Back the Dawn for Lux Video Theatre. "I couldn't break the Latin lover image", he said later.[10]


Lamas did episodes of Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre ("The Bravado Touch"), Climax! ("Spider Web"), Pursuit ("Eagle in a Cage"), Shirley Temple's Storybook, Zane Grey Theater but returned to features with The Lost World (1960).


Lamas moved to Europe with Esther Williams who became his wife. He directed a film both starred in, Magic Fountain, shot in 1961 and never released in the US. He went to Italy for Duel of Fire (1962), and Revenge of the Musketeers (1963). He helped write the Western A Place Called Glory (1965).

Return to the U.S.

Lamas returned to Hollywood. As an actor he focused on television, with guest appearances on Burke's Law, The Virginian, Laredo, Combat!, The Red Skelton Hour, Hondo and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.. From 1965 to 1968 Lamas had a regular role as Ramon De Vega on Run For Your Life, which starred Ben Gazzara; Lamas also directed some episodes.[11]

He had a support role in Valley of Mystery (1967), a pilot for a series that did not proceed. He directed another feature film, The Violent Ones, which was released in 1967 and co-starred Aldo Ray and David Carradine. He was in Kill a Dragon (1967) and 100 Rifles (1969) and had guest roles on The High Chaparral, Tarzan, Then Came Bronson, It Takes a Thief, Mission: Impossible, The Name of the Game, Dan August, Alias Smith and Jones, Bearcats!, Mod Squad, Night Gallery, and McCloud.

TV director

Lamas started directing TV as well: The Bold Ones: The Lawyers, Mannix, Alias Smith and Jones, S.W.A.T., The Rookies, Jigsaw John, Starsky and Hutch, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Amazing Spider-Man, Secrets of Midland Heights, Flamingo Road, and Code Red. As an actor, he was in the TV movies The Lonely Profession (1969) and Murder on Flight 502 (1975). He could also be seen in Bronk, Switch (which he also directed), Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976), Quincy M.E., Charlie's Angels, Police Woman, The Love Boat, The Cheap Detective, How the West Was Won, The Dream Merchants and House Calls. He produced the TV movie Samurai (1979). Lamas directed episodes of Falcon Crest co-starring his son, Lorenzo. He also helmed Bret Maverick and several episodes of House Calls.

He had a supporting role in the series Gavilan when he fell ill with cancer. His scenes were re shot with Patrick Macnee.[12]

Personal life

Lamas was married four times. His first marriage was to Argentine actress Perla Mux in 1940 and they had a daughter, Christina before divorcing in 1944. His second marriage was in 1946 to Lydia Babacci (or Barachi); this marriage also produced a daughter, Alexandra. They were later divorced in 1952. His third wife was the American actress Arlene Dahl. They were married in 1954. They were later divorced in 1960. Out of this marriage was born a son, Lorenzo Lamas (born January 20, 1958). His longest marriage was to swimmer and actress Esther Williams in 1969, and they remained married until Lamas's death in 1982.

Fernando Lamas died of pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles, California, aged 66. His ashes were scattered by close friend Jonathan Goldsmith from his sailboat.[13][14]

After his death, Lamas's archetypal playboy image[15] lived on in popular culture via the "Fernando" character developed by Billy Crystal on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s. The character was outlandish and exaggerated, and reportedly inspired by a remark Crystal heard Lamas utter on The Tonight Show: "It is better to look good than to feel good". This was one of the Fernando character's two catchphrases along with the better-remembered "You look marvelous!" (usually spelled "mahvelous" in this context).[16][17] "My father loved the impression of Billy Crystal doing him", says Lorenzo, "He would puff up" when asked about it.[18] This is not possible. Crystal was on SNL 1984-1985. Lamas died 2 years before Crystal ever did the character.

His friend, actor Jonathan Goldsmith, took inspiration from Lamas for the character The Most Interesting Man in the World.[19]



Television work

Radio appearances

1952Lux Radio TheatreStrictly Dishonorable[20]


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  7. By, E. G. (1949, Jun 26). ARGENTINE ODYSSEY. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/105947398
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  13. Aradillas, Elaine (2009-07-02). "Meet the Real Most Interesting Man in the World". People. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  14. Lamas, Lorenzo; Lenburg, Jeff (December 9, 2014). Renegade at Heart: An Autobiography. BenBella Books, Inc. Kindle Edition. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-1941631256.
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  17. Thomas, Bob (1985-10-29). "Billy Crystal Moving from TV to Silver Screen". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. p. 8C.
  18. "How Did Fernando Lamas Feel About Billy Crystal's Impression of Him?". Oprah Winfrey Network. 2014-08-13.
  19. "The Most Interesting Man in the World". Fox News. 2010-09-27. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  20. Kirby, Walter (December 7, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Decatur Herald and Review. p. 52. Retrieved June 14, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
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