Ricardo Cortez

Ricardo Cortez (born Jacob Kranze[1][2][3] or Jacob Krantz;[4] September 19, 1900 April 28, 1977) was an American film actor and director. He was also credited as Jack Crane early in his acting career.[3][5]

Ricardo Cortez
Cortez, c. 1935
Jacob Kranze or
Jacob Krantz

(1900-09-19)September 19, 1900
DiedApril 28, 1977(1977-04-28) (aged 76)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery,
Bronx, New York City
Other namesJack Crane
OccupationActor, director
Years active19171960
Alma Rubens
(m. 1926; died 1931)

Christine Coniff Lee
(m. 1934; div. 1940)

Margaret Belle
(m. 19??; his death 1977)

Early years

The son of Morris and Sarah Lefkovitz Krantz[6], Cortez was born to a Jewish family in New York City[7] (Vienna has been incorrectly cited as his birthplace).[note 1][7][8] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City.[2][9]

He was an amateur boxer and worked on Wall Street as a runner prior to entering the film business.[3]


Hollywood executives changed his name from Krantz to Cortez to capitalize on the popularity of the era's "Latin lovers" (namely Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro and Antonio Moreno). When rumor began to circulate that Cortez was not actually Latin, the studios attempted to pass him off as French before finally "admitting" to his supposedly Viennese origin. Cortez appeared in over 100 films. He began his career playing romantic leads, and when sound cinema arrived, his strong delivery and New York accent made him an ideal heavy. Occasionally portrayed leading men, Cortez's main focus became character acting. He played opposite Joan Crawford in Montana Moon (1930), played Sam Spade in the original, pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon (1931), co-starred with Charles Farrell and Bette Davis in The Big Shakedown (1934), and with Al Jolson and Dolores del Río in Wonder Bar (1934). In 1936, Cortez replaced Warren William as Perry Mason in The Case of the Black Cat.


Cortez directed seven films for 20th Century Fox from 1938 through 1940, all of them "program pictures made on a shoestring for the express purpose of filling the bottom half of the mandatory double bill ..."[10] His first film as director was Inside Story, which was assigned to Cortez in the spring of 1938 but was not released until 1939. He also directed Chasing Danger, The Escape (1939), Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939), City of Chance (1940), Free, Blonde and 21 (1940), and Girl in 313 (1940).[10]

Personal life

Cortez was married to silent film actress Alma Rubens until her death from pneumonia in 1931. They were married January 31, 1926 in Riverside, California. He married Christine Conniff Lee on January 8, 1934.[10]

When he retired from the film business, Cortez returned to New York, working as a stockbroker for Salomon Brothers on Wall Street.

Cortez was the older brother of noted cinematographer Stanley Cortez (born Stanislaus Krantz).[4]


Cortez died in Doctors Hospital in New York City in 1977 at age 77[8] and was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.


Cortez has a star at 1500 Vine Street in the Motion Pictures section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960.[11]



  1. Cortez' obituary in The New York Times cites Vienna as his birthplace, and the book A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 describes him as "Jacob Kranze, Viennese émigré".


  1. "Did Sigrid Gurie Hoax Sam Goldwyn?". The Des Moines Register. Iowa, Des Moines. May 8, 1938. p. 49. Retrieved August 18, 2018 via Newspapers.com.
  2. Grandon, Robert (July 25, 1932). "Jacob Kranze Gives Clark Gable a Run". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. Utah, Ogden. Publishers Syndicate. p. 4. Retrieved August 18, 2018 via Newspapers.com.
  3. Skolsky, Sidney (June 21, 1934). "Tintypes". Daily News. New York, New York City. News Syndicate Co., Inc. p. 50. Retrieved August 18, 2018 via Newspapers.com.
  4. Room, Adrian (2012). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 118. ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  5. "Ricardo Cortez:The 'Latin' from Manhattan". Films of the Golden Age (88): 50–51. Spring 2017.
  6. "Cortez biography".
  7. Letter of the Department of Health, City of New York, 8 October 2000. mentioned in: Rudolf Ulrich (Hrsg.): Österreicher in Hollywood. Neuauflage, Verlag Filmarchiv Austria, Wien 2004, ISBN 3-901932-29-1, p. 597
  8. "Ricardo Cortez, Actor in Movies, 77". The New York Times. New York, New York City. United Press International. April 29, 1977. Archived from the original on 3 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  9. Wilson, Victoria (2015). A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940. Simon and Schuster. p. 197. ISBN 9781439194065. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  10. Van Neste, Dan (August 2017). "'Von Stroheim of the B's'". Classic Images (506): 39–44, 56.
  11. "Ricardo Cortez". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 3 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.


  • Van Neste, Dan. The Magnificent Heel: The Life and Films of Ricardo Cortez. Albany, GA: BearManor Media, 2017. ISBN 978-1-62933-128-7
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