Duncan Renaldo, in his trophy room in Goleta, Calif., circa 1973-74.
Vasile Dumitru Cugheanos
April 23, 1904
|Died||September 3, 1980 (aged 76)|
Goleta, California, U.S.
Renault Renaldo Duncan (April 23, 1904 – September 3, 1980), better known as Duncan Renaldo, was a Romanian-born American actor best remembered for his portrayal of The Cisco Kid in films and on the 1950-1956 American TV series, The Cisco Kid.
Renaldo told some interviewers that he actually did not know where he was born. The prosecution in his immigration case entered into evidence a copy of a birth certificate forwarded by the Romanian consul stating that he was born in Oancea, Romania as Vasile Dumitru Cugheanos, the natural son of Dumitru and Teodora Cugheanos. Renaldo claimed in his defense that he was born in Camden, New Jersey and only later raised in Romania as Basil Couyanos by people whom he sometimes referred to as "mother" and "father", but other times by their Christian names, Demetri and Theodora.
Renaldo claimed to have never known his biological parents and was raised in several European countries. He emigrated to America in the 1920s. He claimed Romanian nationality when he took a job on a French freighter, and entered the United States in 1917, registering as a foreign seaman; in court records, he claimed that this occurred four years later in 1921, but the prosecution produced evidence that he was listed as a coal passer on the S.S. Puget Sound in 1917, and first entered the United States when this ship landed at Baltimore, Maryland that year. Failing to support himself as a portrait painter, he tried producing short films. He eventually took up acting and signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1928 where he worked in at least two major films, The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Trader Horn. In January 1933, Renaldo was sentenced to serve two years in federal prison and fined $2000 on conviction of falsely claiming American citizenship, falsifying a passport, and perjury, but he eventually was pardoned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and returned to acting.
He found minor roles at Republic Studios and other Poverty Row studios until he convinced Republic head Herbert Yates in 1939 to introduce a Latin cowboy into The Three Mesquiteers series. The character only lasted a year, though, and Renaldo was back to minor roles in B-films, for example Tiger Fangs (1943). Renaldo did play some roles in mainstream films as well, including in Spawn of the North (1938) with George Raft, Henry Fonda and John Barrymore; and For Whom the Bell Tolls with Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. He was also a producer, writer and director.
In the late 1940s, Renaldo starred in several Hollywood Westerns as The Cisco Kid, and in 1950, he began playing the role in a popular television series that ran until 1956. In the age of black-and-white television, the show was filmed in color. As Cisco, Renaldo roamed the Old West on a black-and-white horse named Diablo, accompanied by his constant companion, Pancho, played by Leo Carrillo, who was 24 years Renaldo's senior.
Renaldo illustrated a book of poetry by Moreton B. Price titled Drifter's Dreams. His illustrations are ink sketches of idyllic scenes, primarily seascapes and landscapes. He also painted in oils. Two of his large paintings of members of the Maasai tribe whom he met in Kenya while filming Trader Horn were prominently displayed in his Santa Barbara home in 1971.
For his contributions to the television industry, Renaldo has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1680 Vine Street. He is pictured with the band War on their 1974 album, War Live, which includes the group's 1973 song, "The Cisco Kid".
- The Trail Beyond. Starring John Wayne 1934
- Lady Luck (1936)
- Rose of the Rio Grande (1938)
- Down Mexico Way (1941)
- Call of the South Seas (1944)
- Two Years Before the Mast (1946)
- "Duncan Renaldo profile". b-westerns.com. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
- Duncan v. United States, 68 F.2d 7162, 138-139 (9th Cir. 1933).
- "United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Reports - December 13, 1933". Leagle.com. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
- "Renaldo Applies For Citizenship". The Spokesman Chronicle. June 9, 1936. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- "The Cisco Kid Duncan Renaldo is dead". Ellensburg Daily Record. September 4, 1980. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- Duncan v. United States, 68 F.2d 7162, 137 (9th Cir. 1933).
- "DUNCAN RENALDO (1904–1980)". noblebandits.asu.edu. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
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