Tom Hernández

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Tom Hernández
Born (1915-10-09)October 9, 1915
Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain)
Died June 2, 1984(1984-06-02) (aged 68)
Los Angeles, California
Nationality Spanish and American
Occupation Actor

Domingo Tomás "Tom" Hernández Bethencourt (October 9, 1915 - June 2, 1984), better known as Tom Hernández, was a Spanish-born American actor of theater, films and television, who played supporting roles - both in films and TV -, usually Hispanics, throughout his career. However, he is best known in the San Diego´s city (California) by their interpretation of Don Diego character at the Del Mar Fair annual fair in this city during almost of four decades until his death in 1984. He held the position of goodwill ambassador of the fair, promoting it and he welcomed people that came to the fair with his greeting in Spanish "¡Bienvenidos, Amigos!" ("Welcome Friends!"), greeting for which he was known.[1] He was brother of also actor Pepe Hern and uncle of present day actor Justin Lopez from The Three Stooges (2012 film).[2]


He was born Domingo Tomás Hernández Bethencourt on October 9, 1915, in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain).[3] Hernández was son of Domingo Hernández and Dominga Bethencourt.[4] In 1920, Hernandez immigrated with his parent and an eldest brother to the United States when he was five. He also had a little brother who already was born in the U.S., twelve years after his arrival there, the future actor Pepe Hern.[5]

Eventually, Hernandez became interested in film, and got jobs of helper, that led to small roles with marked Hispanic roots. Domingo chosen the Tom Hernandez stage name, seeking a certain approach to their host country, but without completely abandoning their roots.

After working in theater for a long time, he was offered a small role in Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950), and during the '50s was common to see him at the end of the distribution of actors in many American films and some episodes of some American TV series.

The film in which, perhaps, had the greater role in his career was "The 3rd Voice" (1960)

That brief moment of brilliance on the big screen in the early 60 allowed to Tom Hernandez access to more regular jobs in renowned television series as " The Virginian" (1962), "Mission: Impossible" (1965) and "Daniel Boone" (1969), one of the last TV series in which he worked. Already into the '70s, his appearances on screen were losing relevance, focusing thereafter, basically, in his job as goodwill ambassador in the Del Mar Fair, in San Diego (California),[4] in which he had already begun to work from the 40s.

Although he continued to participate in some movies, highlighting its roles in the Spanish films Cuatro locos buscan manicomio, Fuerza mortal and Tunka, el guerrero.

By other way, as we already comment, since the 1947 year Hernández start to interpret the character Don Diego at the annual fair Del Mar Fair in San Diego (California), appearing as master of ceremonies for the annual meeting [6] and occupying the work of promoter the fair, being goodwill ambassador in this fairgrounds.[1]

He combined his work in films and its role as master of ceremonies for the fair until the last years of his life. He died in June 2, 1984 in Los Angeles, California.[3]


  • On the death of Hernandez, the council of Del Mar Fair decided expose a bronze statue of 16 feet dedicated to Hernández as Don Diego, created by artist Maher Morcos, at the entrance to the fair. The statue was presented in 1985.[1]
  • In honor to him was created also The Don Diego Fund in 1986, a nonprofit scholarship program of the San Diego County Fair to economically help to the outstanding San Diego County high school students who have participated in the annual San Diego County Fair or other events concluded by the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Thus, this fund has delivered over $556,000 in scholarships and grants along its trajectory and has helped more than 130 students achieve a college degree. The Don Diego Fund is also a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.[7]


  • The character "Don Diego" was based on the landowner Don Diego Alvarado, owner of a great land in what is now Del Mar, California, in 1800 year.[6]
  • In the beauty contest of the fair, Hernández met to a girl named Raquel Tejada, that more late would the actress Raquel Welch. She was a of the contestants of this contest.[8]


This is a list of films of Tom Hernández[9]

Year Title Role
1938 Dead Men Tell No Tales Spanish Bartender
1950 Tarzan and the Slave Girl Molo
1952 Yankee Buccaneer Guard
1953 Salome (1953 film) Man in Cafe
1953 The Desert Song (1953 film) Legionnaire
1953 Sombrero Townsman
1953 Latin Lovers Nora's Dancing Partner (uncredited)
1954 Phantom of the Rue Morgue Gendarme Lara
1955 The Last Command (1955 film) Aida
1956 Anything Goes (1956 film) Frenchman
1957 El reflejo del alma (Spanish film)
1958 Party Girl (1958 film) Sketch Artist, Canetto Trial
1959 It Started with a Kiss Minor Role (uncredited)
1959 Holiday for Lovers Portrait Painter
1960 The 3rd Voice Desk´s Clerk
1961 Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (uncredited)
1961 The Comancheros Croupier
1961 Tender Is the Night Novelman
1963 Fun in Acapulco Photographer
1965 Choque de Sentimentos (Brazilian film)
1972 Trouble Man Police Sergeant
1974 La dynamite est bonne à boire (1974) (French film)
1979 Black Jack (1979 film)
1980 Cuatro locos buscan manicomio (Spanish film) Gerente
1980 Fuerza mortal (Big games) (Spanish film) Simpson
1981 Othello (1981 TV film) black command - as Fergusson
1981 Homo hominis opus I (short) - (Spanish film) Dictator
1983 Tunka, el guerrero (Spanish film) great sage

TV series[edit]

This is a list of television series in which he has appeared.[9]

Year Title Role episodes
1951 The Adventures of Kit Carson Tom Hernández A Ticket to Mexico
1955 Letter to Loretta Angelo The Waiting Game
1955 Death Valley Days The Valencia Cake
1955 My Little Margie Hernando Papa and Mambo
1956 Cheyenne' Ramón Fury at Rio Hondo
1957 State Trooper Pepe Soto Beef ala Murder
1959 Zorro (1957 TV series) chapters in 1957
1959 Laramie Montero Ríos The Run to Tumavaca
1959 Wagon Train Denny The Stagecoach Story
1960 Bourbon Street Beat Victor Last Exit
1961 Wanted: Dead or Alive Carlos witch woman
1962 Target: The Corruptors! Babes in Wall Street
1962 The Virginian The Spanish Officer Riff-Raff (chapter in 1962)
1966 Mission: Impossible The Desk Sergeant Wheels (chapter in 1966)
1969 Daniel Boone Surgeon The Grand Alliance
1969 Family Affair Captain Lost in Spain, Part 3