Ricardo Cortez

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Ricardo Cortez
Ricardo Cortés.jpg
Ricardo Cortez, c. 1935
BornJacob Kranze or
Jacob Krantz

(1900-09-19)19 September 1900
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died28 April 1977(1977-04-28) (aged 76)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery,
Bronx, New York City
Other namesJack Crane
Years active1917–1960
Alma Rubens
(m. 1926; died 1931)

Christine Coniff Lee
(m. 1934; div. 1940)

Margaret Belle
(m. 19??; his death 1977)

Ricardo Cortez (born Jacob Kranze[1][2][3] or Jacob Krantz;[4] September 19, 1900[citation needed] – April 28, 1977) was an American actor. He was also known as Jack Crane early in his acting career.[3][5]

Early years[edit]

Cortez came to the United States when he was one year old [3] -- or was born to a Jewish family in New York City[6] (Vienna has been incorrectly cited as his birthplace),[6][note 1][7] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City.[2][8]

He was an amateur boxer and worked on Wall Street as a runner prior to entering the film business[3]


Hollywood executives changed his name from Krantz to Cortez in order to capitalize on the popularity of the era's "Latin lovers" (namely Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro and Antonio Moreno). When rumor began to circulate that Cortez was not actually Spanish, the studios attempted to pass him off as French before finally "admitting" to his supposedly Viennese origin.Cortez appeared in over 100 films. Having begun his career playing romantic leads, when sound cinema arrived, his strong delivery and New York accent made him an ideal heavy. Though he would go on to occasionally portray leading men, Cortez's main focus became character acting. He played opposite Joan Crawford in Montana Moon (1930), played Sam Spade in the original, pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon (1931), co-starred with Charles Farrell and Bette Davis in The Big Shakedown (1934), and with Al Jolson and Dolores del Río in Wonder Bar (1934). In 1936, Cortez replaced Warren William as Perry Mason in The Case of the Black Cat.


Poster for Girl in 313 (1940)

Cortez directed seven films for 20th Century Fox from 1938 through 1940, all of them "program pictures made on a shoestring for the express purpose of filling the bottom half of the mandatory double bill ..."[9] His first film as director was Inside Story, which was assigned to Cortez in the spring of 1938 but was not released until 1939. He also directed Chasing Danger, The Escape (1939), Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939), City of Chance (1940), Free, Blonde and 21 (1940), and Girl in 313 (1940).[9]

Personal life[edit]

Cortez was married to silent film actress Alma Rubens until her death from pneumonia in 1931. They were married January 31, 1926 in Riverside, California. He married Christine Conniff Lee on January 8, 1934.[9]

When he retired from the film business, Cortez returned to New York, working as a stockbroker for Salomon Brothers on Wall Street.

Cortez was the older brother of noted cinematographer Stanley Cortez (born Stanislaus Krantz).[4]


Cortez died in Doctors Hospital in New York City in 1977 at age 77.[7] He was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.


Cortez has a star at 1500 Vine Street in the Motion Pictures section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960.[10]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Cortez' obituary in The New York Times cites Vienna as his birthplace, and the book A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 describes him as "Jacob Kranze, Viennese émigré".


  1. ^ "Did Sigrid Gurie Hoax Sam Goldwyn?". The Des Moines Register. Iowa, Des Moines. May 8, 1938. p. 49. Retrieved August 18, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ a b Grandon, Robert (July 25, 1932). "Jacob Kranze Gives Clark Gable a Run". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. Utah, Ogden. Publishers Syndicate. p. 4. Retrieved August 18, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ a b c d Skolsky, Sidney (June 21, 1934). "Tintypes". Daily News. New York, New York City. News Syndicate Co., Inc. p. 50. Retrieved August 18, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ a b Room, Adrian (2012). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 118. ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Ricardo Cortez:The 'Latin' from Manhattan". Films of the Golden Age (88): 50–51. Spring 2017.
  6. ^ a b Letter of the Department of Health, City of New York, 8 October 2000. mentioned in: Rudolf Ulrich (Hrsg.): Österreicher in Hollywood. Neuauflage, Verlag Filmarchiv Austria, Wien 2004, ISBN 3-901932-29-1, p. 597
  7. ^ a b "Ricardo Cortez, Actor in Movies, 77". The New York Times. New York, New York City. United Press International. April 29, 1977. Archived from the original on 3 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  8. ^ Wilson, Victoria (2015). A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940. Simon and Schuster. p. 197. ISBN 9781439194065. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Van Neste, Dan (August 2017). "'Von Stroheim of the B's'". Classic Images (506): 39–44, 56.
  10. ^ "Ricardo Cortez". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 3 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.


  • Van Neste, Dan. The Magnificent Heel: The Life and Films of Ricardo Cortez. Albany, GA: BearManor Media, 2017. ISBN 978-1-62933-128-7

External links[edit]