Rodolfo Acosta

Rodolfo Pérez Acosta (July 29, 1920 – November 7, 1974)[2] was a Mexican-American character actor who became known for his roles as Mexican outlaws or American Indians in Hollywood western films. He was sometimes credited as Rudolph Acosta.[3]

Rodolfo Acosta
Born(1920-07-29)July 29, 1920
Chamizal, Texas, U.S.
DiedNovember 7, 1974(1974-11-07) (aged 54)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
Years active1946–73
Spouse(s)Jeanine Cohen
(m. 1945-19??)[1]

Early life and education

Acosta was born to Jose Acosta and Alexandrina Perez de Acosta on July 29, 1920 in the disputed American territory of Chamizal outside of El Paso, Texas.[4] His father, a carpenter, moved the family to Los Angeles, where Acosta was raised and graduated from Lincoln High School. Acosta studied drama at Los Angeles City College and UCLA and he appeared at the Pasadena Playhouse. At the age of 19, he received a scholarship to the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City where he studied for three years. In 1943, during World War II, Acosta enlisted in the United States Navy where he worked in Naval Intelligence.[4]


After the war, Acosta worked on stage and in films which eventually led to a bit part in John Ford's 1947 film The Fugitive, directed by Emilio Fernández.[4] Fernandez wrote the role of the pimp Paco for Acosta in the 1949 film Salón México, for which Acosta earned a nomination as Best Supporting Actor at the 1950 Ariel Awards.[4] He then was placed on contract by Universal Studios, beginning with a small role in One Way Street (1950). Although Acosta was considered a romantic screen idol in Mexico and South America,[5] his burly body and strong features led to a long succession of roles as bandits, Native American warriors and outlaws in American films.[4] In The Tijuana Story (1957), he had a sympathetic leading role, but in general he spent his career as a familiar western antagonist.

Acosta was also a regular as Vaquero on NBC's The High Chaparral from 1967-1969. His other television appearances included Cheyenne, Maverick, Zorro, Rawhide as Ossolo, an Indian Medicine Man in "The Incident at Superstition Prairie" in 1960, Bonanza, and Daniel Boone.

In 1959, Acosta played the Kiowa Chief Satanta in the third episode entitled "Yellow Hair" of the ABC western series The Rebel, starring Nick Adams as a former Confederate soldier who wanders through the American West.[6]

Acosta was cast on Death Valley Days as Valdez, the traveling companion of Stephen F. Austin (David McLean), in the 1964 episode "A Book of Spanish Grammar", of the syndicated anthology series. In the story line, Austin travels to Mexico City to purchase land in colonial Texas to sell to future settlers. Valdez wonders why Austin risks so much to help strangers.[7]



Television series


  2. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland & Company. p. 79.
  3. Rodolfo Acosta at IMDb
  4. Reyes, Luis; Rubie, Peter (October 1, 2000). Hispanics in Hollywood. Lone Eagle. p. 412. ISBN 978-1580650250.
  5. "Focus on Rodolfo Acosta". The High Chaparral News. January 14, 2009. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  6. ""Yellow Hair", The Rebel, October 18, 1959". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  7. "A Book of Spanish Grammar on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 18, 2018.

Further reading

  • De la Mora, Sergio (January 28, 2009). Cinemachismo: Masculinities and Sexuality in Mexican Film. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 48–57. ISBN 978-0-292-71296-6. Analysis of Acosta's performances in Víctimas del Pecado and Salon Mexico.

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