Richard Conte (born Nicholas Peter Conte; March 24, 1910 – April 15, 1975) was an American actor. He appeared in more than 100 films from the 1940s through 1970s, including I'll Cry Tomorrow, Ocean's 11, and The Godfather.
Nicholas Peter Conte
March 24, 1910
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||April 15, 1975 65) (aged|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Ruth Storey (1943–1962 div.)|
Shirlee Garner (1973–1975, his death)
Richard Conte was born Nicholas Peter Conte on March 24, 1910, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Italian-Americans Julia (Fina), a seamstress, and Pasquale Conte, a barber. He graduated from William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City.
Conte worked as a truck driver, messenger, shoe salesman, and singing waiter before starting his acting career. He was discovered by actors Elia Kazan and John Garfield during his job at a Connecticut resort, which led to Conte finding stage work.
He eventually earned a scholarship to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where he became a standout actor.
He made his film debut under the name Nicholas Conte in Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939) at 20th Century Fox.
He made his Broadway debut in My Heart's in the Highlands (1939) for the Group Theatre. Also for the Group he was in Clifford Odets' Night Music (1940). He performed in the road company of Golden Boy.
20th Century Fox
Conte had the star role in another war film for Milestone, A Walk in the Sun (1945), where he was teamed again with Andrews.
Fox promoted Conte to top billing with a film noir, The Spider (1945). Although a "B" film for the studio, it was successful enough to establish Conte in film noir.
Conte was borrowed by Enterprise Productions for The Other Love (1947) with Barbara Stanwyck and David Niven. Back at Fox he had an excellent part in Hathaway's crime drama Call Northside 777 (1948), as the prisoner whose innocence is proved by James Stewart.
Conte was teamed with Victor Mature in Cry of the City (1948). MGM borrowed him to support Wallace Beery in Big Jack (1949), Berry's final film, then he did another for Mankiewicz at Fox, House of Strangers (1949) with Edward G. Robinson, playing Max Monetti, a lawyer who defends his father (Robinson) against government charges of banking irregularities and goes to prison for jury tampering.
Conte went to Warner Bros to co-star with Anne Baxter and Ann Sothern in The Blue Gardenia (1953) directed by Fritz Lang. Back at Universal Conte supported Alan Ladd in Desert Legion (1953). He made Slaves of Babylon (1953) for Sam Katzman at Columbia. Conte started guest starring on TV shows such as Medallion Theatre, Ford Television Theatre, and General Electric Theater.
In 1953 Conte signed a contract with Bill Broidy to make six films over three years, under which he would be paid 25% of the profits. The first was a crime drama, Highway Dragnet (1954), based on a story by Roger Corman and went to England to make Mask of Dust (1954) for Hammer Films director Terence Fisher. He was going to direct The Wolf Pack for Broidy but it was not made.
Conte broke out B movies with the second lead in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), an MGM biopic about Lillian Roth starring Susan Hayward. Conte and director Daniel Mann announced they would make Play by Play together but it was not made.
Conte made a series of films for Columbia. He was co-starred with Judy Holliday in Full of Life (1956); played the lead in The Brothers Rico (1957); supported Anthony Perkins and Silvana Mangano in This Angry Age (1957); was one of several names in They Came to Cordura (1959).
He continued to guest on TV shows like The 20th Century-Fox Hour and The Twilight Zone ("Perchance to Dream") and played the lead in a TV adaptation of The Gambler, the Nun and the Radio (1960). He had his first regular TV role in The Four Just Men (1959–60).
Conte supported Frank Sinatra in Ocean's 11 (1961) but then focused on TV: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bus Stop, Naked City, Checkmate, Frontier Circus, The DuPont Show of the Week, The Untouchables, Alcoa Premiere, Going My Way, Kraft Mystery Theater, 77 Sunset Strip, The Reporter, Kraft Suspense Theatre and Arrest and Trial.
He had a support role in Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963), Circus World (1964) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) (playing Barabbas) and the lead in The Eyes of Annie Jones (1964) for Robert L. Lippert. After Synanon (1965) he had the lead in Stay Tuned for Terror (1965), shot in Argentina.
In 1968 he released his only film as a director, Operation Cross Eagles, in which he also starred.
Conte had one of his most memorable performances in The Godfather (1972) as Don Barzini. He was at one time also considered for the title role, Don Vito Corleone, a role which Marlon Brando eventually filled.
The success of the film led to Conte being cast in a series of "mob" roles: Murder Inferno (1973), The Big Family (1973), Pete, Pearl and the Pole (1973), My Brother Anastasia (1973), The Violent Professionals (1973), No Way Out (1973) with Alain Delon, Anna, quel particolare piacere (1973), Shoot First, Die Later (1974) and Violent Rome (1975). He did horror films, Evil Eye (1975), A Diary of a Murderess (1975) and Naked Exorcism (1975).
Conte was married to actress Ruth Storey, with whom he adopted a son, film editor Mark Conte. They divorced in 1963. He married his second wife, Shirlee Garner, in 1973; they remained married until Conte's death. His grandson is National Football League free safety Chris Conte. Chris is the son of Mark Conte.
On April 3, 1975 Conte suffered a massive heart attack and a stroke. He was taken to UCLA Medical Centre where the staff worked for eight hours to keep him alive. He was put in intensive care and died on April 15. He is buried in the Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
|1960||Golden Laurel||Top Action Performance||Nominated||They Came to Cordura (1959)|
- Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939) as Tony
- Guadalcanal Diary (1943) as Capt. Davis
- The Purple Heart (1944) as Lt. Angelo Canelli
- Captain Eddie (1945) as Pvt. John Bartek
- A Bell for Adano (1945) as Nicolo (Italian POW)
- The Spider (1945) as Chris Conlon
- A Walk in the Sun (1945) as Pvt. Rivera
- 13 Rue Madeleine (1946) as Bill O'Connell
- Somewhere in the Night (1946) as Mel Phillips
- The Other Love (1947) as Paul Clermont
- Call Northside 777 (1948) as Frank W. Wiecek
- Cry of the City (1948) as Martin Rome
- Big Jack (1949) as Dr. Alexander Meade
- House of Strangers (1949) as Max Monetti
- Thieves' Highway (1949) as Nick Garcos
- Whirlpool (1949) as Dr. William 'Bill' Sutton
- The Sleeping City (1950) as Fred Rowan,aka Fred Gilbert
- Hollywood Story (1951) as Larry O'Brien
- The Raging Tide (1951) as Bruno Felkin
- The Fighter (1952) as Felipe Rivera
- Riders of Vengeance (1952) as Jan Morrell
- The Blue Gardenia (1953) as Casey Mayo
- Desert Legion (1953) as Crito Damou / Omar Ben Khalif
- Slaves of Babylon (1953) as Nahum
- Highway Dragnet (1954) as Jim Henry
- Mask of Dust (1954) as Peter Wells
- The Big Combo (1955) as Mr. Brown
- New York Confidential (1955) as Nick Magellan
- The Big Tip Off (1955) as Johnny Denton
- Little Red Monkey (1955) as Bill Locklin
- Bengazi (1955) as John Gillmore
- Target Zero (1955) as Lt. Tom Flagler
- I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) as Tony Bardeman
- Full of Life (1956) as Nick Rocco
- The Brothers Rico (1957) as Eddie Rico
- This Angry Age (1957) as Michael
- The Untouchables (1959-Season 2 Episode15) as Ira Bauer / Arnie Seeger
- They Came to Cordura (1959) as Cpl. Milo Trubee
- Ocean's 11 (1960) as Anthony Bergdorf
- Pepe (1960) as Richard Conte
- Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963) as Leonard Ashley
- The Eyes of Annie Jones (1964) as David Wheeler
- Circus World (1964) as Aldo Alfredo
- The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) as Barabbas
- Synanon (1965) as Reid Kimble
- Extraña invasión (1965)
- Assault on a Queen (1966) as Tony Moreno
- Hotel (1967) as Detective Dupere
- Tony Rome (1967) as Lt. Dave Santini
- Death Sentence (1968) as Diaz
- Operation Cross Eagles (1968) as Lt. Bradford (also directed)
- Lady in Cement (1968) as Lt. Dave Santini
- Explosion (1969) as Dr. Philip Neal
- Piazza pulita (1972)
- The Godfather (1972) as Don Emilio Barzini
- Il Boss (1973) as Don Corrasco
- The Big Family (1973) as Don Antonio Marchesi
- My Brother Anastasia (1973) as Alberto 'Big Al' Anastasia
- The Violent Professionals (1973) as Padulo
- Tony Arzenta / Big Guns (1973) as Nick Gusto
- Anna, quel particolare piacere (1973) as Riccardo Sogliani
- Shoot First, Die Later (1974) as Mazzanti
- Evil Eye (1975) as Dr. Stone
- La encadenada (1975) as Alexander
- Violent Rome (1975) as Lawyer Sartori
- Un urlo dalle tenebre (Exorcist III: Cries and Shadows) (1975) as Exorcist
|1946||Readers' Digest Radio Edition||Our Lady's Juggler|
|1946||Suspense||"Win, Place and Murder"|
|1953||Hollywood Star Playhouse||Blackout|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Richard Conte.|
- Obituary Variety, April 23, 1975.
- "Another Star dies". Wellsville Daily Reporter. April 16, 1975. p. 1. Retrieved June 10, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Stevenson, L.L. (January 30, 1951). "Lights of New York". Valley Morning Star. p. 4. Retrieved June 10, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Conte made film debut in '43". The Kerrville Times. June 2, 1991. p. 47. Retrieved June 10, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 34, Ideal Publishers
- Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
- Richard Conte, actor, dies at 65 Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]16 Apr 1975: a9.
- Mayer, Geoff; McDonnell, Brian (2007). Encyclopedia of Film Noir. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 136–137. ISBN 0-313-33306-8. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
- The Life Story of RICHARD CONTE Picture Show; London Vol. 53, Iss. 1388, (Nov 5, 1949): 12.
- DRAMA AND FILM: 'Johnny Zero' Number Inspires War Feature Richard Conte of Stage to Make Screen Debut in 20th's 'Guadalcanal Diary' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 19 May 1943: 22.
- "Looks Like 'North Star' Hit for Goldwyn". The Salt Lake Tribune. May 24, 1943. p. 6. Retrieved June 10, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Warners to Star Ann Sheridan in 'Handbook for Jealousy,' New York Times 15 May 1943: 13.
- Richard Conte, Cold-Eyed Movie Gangster, Dies at 61 Jones, Jack. Los Angeles Times 16 Apr 1975: 8a.
- SCREEN NEWS: Richard Conte and Carole Landis to Be Featured Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 24 May 1945: 16.
- DRAMA AND FILM: Stewart, Richard Conte to Call 'Northside 777' Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 30 Aug 1947: A5.
- Richard Conte, Actor, 59, Dies; Played Gangster and Hero Roles: Seen in '13 Rue Madeleine,' 'Northside,' 'Guadalcanal Dairy' and 'Oceans 11' By DIANE HENRY. New York Times 16 Apr 1975: 41.
- UNIVERSAL TO STAR CONTE IN WESTERN: Actor Will Require Tutelage in Horsemanship Before He Appears in 'Riding Kid' By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 12 Jan 1952: 10.
- HECHT-LANCASTER TO FILM 'WAY WEST' New York Times 24 Oct 1953: 12.
- Looking at Hollywood: Richard Conte to Make Six Films in Next Three Years Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 26 Oct 1953: d8.
- Directors' Guild and Press Group Honor Zinnemann Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 31 Jan 1954: D4.
- PALANCE LEAVES 'BIG COMBO' FILM: Richard Conte Will Replace Actor in Co-Starring Role New York Times 1 Sep 1954: 32.
- Drama: Richard Conte to Star in 'Play by Play;' Mason TV Show Slated as Film Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 5 Oct 1955: B9.
- BASED ON DYNAMICS: Conte Has Own Method Who, Conte Worried About Acting Method? He Has Own Alpert, Don. Los Angeles Times 14 Feb 1960: G1.
- "The Jean Arthur Show". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
- "Actor Richard Conte Dies Of Heart Attack". Valley Morning Star. April 16, 1975. p. 9. Retrieved June 10, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Actor Richard Conte Dies". Cumberland Evening Times. April 16, 1975. p. 1. Retrieved June 10, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Richard Conte Dies at 59 of Heart Attack Los Angeles Times 15 Apr 1975: 1.
- Paul, Louis (2010). "Italian Horror Film Directors". McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6113-4. Page 339.
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 39 (1): 32–41. Winter 2013.
- Kirby, Walter (January 18, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 20, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.