Ricardo Cortez

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Ricardo Cortez
Cortez in 1935
Jacob Kranze or
Jacob Krantz

(1900-09-19)September 19, 1900
New York City, U.S.
DiedApril 28, 1977(1977-04-28) (aged 76)
New York City, U.S.
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery, New York City
Other namesJack Crane
  • Actor
  • film director
Years active1917–1960
(m. 1926; died 1931)
Christine Coniff Lee
(m. 1934; div. 1940)
Margaret Belle
(m. 1950)

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

Early years[edit]

Ricardo Cortez was born Jacob Krantz in New York City to Sarah (née Lefkovitz) and Morris Krantz.[6] Along with his brother Stanley Cortez (born Stanislaus Krantz), he was raised in a Jewish family in New York City.[7] (Vienna has been incorrectly cited as his birthplace.)[note 1][7][8] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City.[2][9][10]

Prior to entering the film business, he was an amateur boxer and worked on Wall Street as a runner.[3]

Film career[edit]


Hollywood executives changed his name from Krantz to Cortez to capitalize on his handsome Latin-like features and the popularity of the silent film era's "Latin lovers" such as Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro and Antonio Moreno. When it began to circulate publicly that Cortez was not actually Latin, the studios attempted to pass him off as French before a final Viennese origin story was promoted.[citation needed]

Cortez appeared in over 100 films. He began his career playing romantic leads, and when sound cinema arrived, his strong delivery and New York accent made him an ideal heavy. While his main focus was character acting, he occasionally was able to play leading men. He played opposite Joan Crawford in Montana Moon (1930), and was the first actor to portray Sam Spade in the original pre-Code version of The Maltese Falcon (1931); the latter film was later overshaded by the 1941 remake with Humphrey Bogart in the lead. He 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 ..."[11] 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).[11]

Personal life[edit]

Cortez married silent film actress Alma Rubens on February 8, 1926. They had previously married on January 30, but it was invalid due to Rubens's divorce not being finalized. The couple separated in 1930, and she had sued him for divorce when she died of pneumonia on January 21, 1931.[11][12] Cortez married Christine Conniff Lee on January 8, 1934, but they divorced in 1940.[citation needed]

After retiring from the film business in the late 1950s, Cortez returned to New York, and began working as a stockbroker for Salomon Brothers on Wall Street.[citation needed]


Cortez died in Doctors Hospital in New York City in 1977 at age 76[8] and was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.[citation needed]


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.[13]


Cortez and Helen Twelvetrees in Her Man (1930)
Mary Astor and Cortez in Behind Office Doors (1931)


  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 icon
  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 icon
  3. ^ a b c 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 icon
  4. ^ Room, Adrian (2012). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 118. ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  5. ^ "Ricardo Cortez:The 'Latin' from Manhattan". Films of the Golden Age (88): 50–51. Spring 2017.
  6. ^ Neste, Dan Van (March 15, 2017). "Cortez biography".
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ 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 October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  9. ^ Wilson, Victoria (2015). A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940. Simon and Schuster. p. 197. ISBN 9781439194065. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  10. ^ "Jacob Krantz, Known on the Screen as Ricardo Cortez, Remembers the East Side and Tells of His Love for It," The Jewish Tribune, March 25, 1927
  11. ^ a b c Van Neste, Dan (August 2017). "'Von Stroheim of the B's'". Classic Images (506): 39–44, 56.
  12. ^ "Divorce? Not at Present Says Alma". The Milwaukee Sentinel. June 9, 1930. p. 1. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  13. ^ "Ricardo Cortez". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 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

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