Actor Henry Silva, known for playing gangsters, goons and henchmen in hundreds of films, including ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and ‘The Manchurian Candidate’, passed away on Wednesday. He was 95.
Silva died of natural causes in Woodland Hills, California, twenty years after he retired from an epic five-decade career, his son told Variety Friday.
The prolific actor often shared the screen with Frank Sinatra, playing a communist cop who fought the singer in “Candidate” and one of the 11 crooks in the classic 1960 casino robbery movie.
The death of the Spanish resident of Harlem was reportedly first announced by Dean Martin’s daughter, who appeared alongside him in the iconic Rat Pack caper.
“Our hearts are broken at the loss of our dear friend Henry Silva, one of the nicest, kindest and most talented men I have had the pleasure of calling my friend,” Deana Martin tweeted Friday afternoon.
“He was the last surviving star of the original Ocean’s 11 Movie. We love you Henry, you will be missed.”
Silva got his start as a heavy in westerns like “The Tall T” and “The Law and Jake Wade” before starring as the titular characters in 1963’s “Johnny Cool” and 1965’s “The Return of Mr. Moto”. .
Later in his career, Silva appeared in such films as ‘Sharky’s Machine’, ‘Above the Law’, ‘Dick Tracy’ and ‘Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai’. He last appeared on screen in the 2001 remake of ‘Ocean’s Eleven’.
Silva was of Italian and Puerto Rican descent, but was often tapped to portray other ethnicities, playing Korean, Venezuelan, Native American and Japanese men in some of his best-known roles.
Silva reportedly dropped out of school at age 13 and took drama classes while earning money as a dishwasher and waiter. He was one of five students selected for the Actors Studio out of 2,500 applicants in 1955, Variety reported, citing the 2000 book “Hispanics in Hollywood.”
In 1985, Silva reportedly told Knight-Ridder journalist Diane Haithman that his Manhattan upbringing shared his trademark tough guy persona.
“I have seen a lot in Haarlem. It was the kind of place where if you lived in one block and wanted to go a few blocks away, you had to take a few guys with you or you would get kicked in the ass,” he said at the time, according to Variation.
“I think the reason I haven’t disappeared is that the heavys I play are all leaders. I never play slack. They’re interesting roles because when you leave the theater you remember these guys.”
The thrice-divorced actor was reportedly survived by his two sons, Michael and Scott.