Quinn was born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca on April 21, 1915, in Chihuahua, Mexico. Quinn was the eldest of two children born to Francisco (Frank) Quinn and Manuela (Nellie) Oaxaca. The elder Quinn, son of an Irish father and Mexican mother, had fought for Pancho Villa. After becoming a migrant worker, he relocated the family several times before settling in 1920 in East Los Angeles. After Quinn's father died in a car accident in 1926, his mother eventually married Frank Bowles, but Quinn and his sister preferred to reside with their paternal grandmother.