Henry Silva, Hollywood tough guy, dead at 95

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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.”

Actors Edd Byrnes, Henry Silva and Raf Vallone on the set of the film “The Secret Invasion” in 1964.
Getty Images
The cast of "Ocean's Eleven" on a promotional photo.
Henry Silva played one of 11 thieves in the 1960 film Ocean’s Eleven.
Getty Images

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’.

American actors Henry Silva, RG Armstrong, Madonna, William Forsythe and Al Pacino surround Warren Beatty on the set of his movie "Dick Tracy."
Henry Silva appeared in “Dick Tracy” towards the end of his career.
Corbis via Getty Images
Actor Henry Silva on the set of the movie "The Secret Invasion" in 1964.
Actor Henry Silva on the set of the movie “The Secret Invasion” in 1964.
Getty Images

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.”

Henry Silva shares the screen with Chuck Norris "Code of silence."
Henry Silva shared the screen with Chuck Norris in ‘Code of Silence’.
Mondadori via Getty Images

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.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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