Iron Eyes Cody
|Iron Eyes Cody|
Cody (left) in 1947, in Glendale, California.
|Born||Espera Oscar de Corti
April 3, 1904
Kaplan, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||January 4, 1999
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Other names||Tony Corti, Tony Cody, The Crying Indian|
|Spouse(s)||Bertha "Birdie" Parker
(m. 1936–1978; her death)
Iron Eyes Cody (born Espera Oscar de Corti April 3, 1904 – January 4, 1999) was an American actor. He frequently portrayed Native Americans in Hollywood films. In 1995, Cody was honored by the Native American community for his work publicizing the plight of Native Americans, including his acting in films. In 1996, his Italian ancestry was made public.
Early life 
Cody was born as Espera Oscar de Corti on April 3, 1904, in Kaplan in Vermilion Parish, in southwestern Louisiana, a second son of Antonio de Corti and his wife, Francesca Salpietra, immigrants from Sicily. He had two brothers, Joseph and Frank, and a sister, Victoria. His parents had a local grocery store in Gueydan, Louisiana, where he grew up. His father left the family and moved to Texas, where he took the name Tony Corti. His mother married Alton Abshire and had five more children with him.
When the three De Corti brothers were teenagers, they joined their father in Texas and also shortened their last name to Corti. They moved on to California, where they started acting in movies, and each changed their surname to Cody. Joseph William and Frank Henry Cody worked as extras, but moved on to other work. Frank was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1949. The boys' father Tony Corti died in Texas in 1924.
Cody began his acting career in the early 1930s. He worked in film and television until the time of his death. As an actor, Cody claimed Cherokee-Cree ancestry, although he initially named several tribes and frequently changed his place of birth. He lived his life as if he were of indigenous Native American descent, both on and off the screen, and strongly supported Native American causes.
He appeared in more than 200 films, including The Big Trail (1930), with John Wayne; The Scarlet Letter (1934), with Colleen Moore; Sitting Bull (1954), as Crazy Horse; The Light in the Forest (1958) as Cuyloga; The Great Sioux Massacre (1965), with Joseph Cotten; Nevada Smith (1966), with Steve McQueen; A Man Called Horse (1970), with Richard Harris; and Ernest Goes to Camp (1987), as Chief St. Cloud.
In 1953, he appeared twice as Chief Big Cloud in Duncan Renaldo's syndicated television series, The Cisco Kid. He later guest starred on the NBC western series, The Restless Gun, starring John Payne, and The Tall Man, with Barry Sullivan and Clu Gulager. In 1961, he played the title role in "The Burying of Sammy Hart" on the ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams.
Cody became widely seen in his "crying chief" role in the "Keep America Beautiful" Public Service Announcement (PSA) in the early 1970s. The environmental commercial showed Cody as a Native American, replete with traditional Native American attire, shedding a tear after trash is thrown from the window of a speeding car and it lands at his feet. The announcer, William Conrad, says: "People start pollution; people can stop it."
Marriage and family 
In 1936, Cody married Bertha Parker, a Native American woman who is said to be related to President Ulysses S. Grant's Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Ely S. Parker (who was of the Seneca people. They adopted two children of Native American descent said to be Dakota-Maricopa. One of his sons, Robert "Tree" Cody, was interviewed about his father in the 2009 documentary Reel Injun. The other son Arthur Cody was in the Marine Corp as a Vietnam vet and died from Agent Orange. Cody remained married until Bertha's death in 1978.
In 1992, Cody married Wendy Foote. They divorced the following year.
Cody died on January 4, 1999 at the age of ninety-four. He was survived by his adopted son, Robert "Tree" Cody, who has become known as a performer on the Native American flute. Robert is of Dakota-Maricopa ancestry.
|1927||Back to God's Country||Indian||Uncredited Role|
|1930||The Big Trail||Indian||Uncredited Role|
|1931||Fighting Caravans||Indian After Firewater||Uncredited Role|
|Oklahoma Jim||War Eagle|
|1947||The Senator Was Indiscreet||Indian|
|1949||Massacre River||Chief Yellowstone|
|1954||Sitting Bull||Crazy Horse|
|1958||Gun Fever||1st Indian Chief|
|1965||The Great Sioux Massacre||Crazy Horse|
|1966||Nevada Smith||Taka-Ta||Uncredited Role|
|1970||El Condor||Santana, Apache Chief|
|Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County||Crazy Foot|
|A Man Called Horse||Medicine Man|
|1987||Ernest Goes to Camp||Old Indian 'Chief St. Cloud'|
|1953||The Cisco Kid||Chief Big Cloud / Chief Sky Eagle||Two separate roles, Indian Uprising (1953) as Chief Sky Eagle and
The Gramophone (1953) as Chief Big Cloud
|1955||Cavalcade of America||n/a||Episode, The Hostage (1955)|
|1961||The Rebel||Sammy Hart||The Death of Sammy Hart (1961) Season 2, Episode 25|
|1967||The Fastest Guitar Alive||1st Indian|
|1969||Then Came Bronson||Chief John Carbona||Episode, Old Tigers Never Die—They Just Run Away (1969)|
|1986||The A-Team||Chief Watashi||Episode, Mission of Peace (1986)|
- Aleiss, Angela (May 26, 1996). "Native Son: After a Career as Hollywood's Noble Indian Hero, Iron Eyes Cody is Found to Have an Unexpected Heritage". The New Orleans Times-Picayune.
- 1970s PSA
- Chris J. Walker, "Larry Klein Is Doing It All", Mixonline.com, June 1, 2002
- "Was Iron Eyes Cody an American Indian?"
- Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated
- In 1996, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Cody as having Sicilian heritage, but he denied it. He lived his adult life claiming he was American Indian; his half-sister and other relatives in Louisiana stated he was of Italian ancestry. Cody supported American Indian-related causes most of his life.