Antonio Moreno Edit Profile
Attended the Williston Northampton School.
Not many careers begin at Biograph in 1912 (Voice of the Million) and end with John Ford’s 1956 The Searchers. But it was during the inbetween period—the silents of the twenties—that Antonio Moreno made his name (and his best films). He came to America from Spain young and tried the stage, bis strikingly handsome looks helping him to supporting roles in vehicles for M aude Adams, Julia Marlowe, and Mrs. Lesley Carter, but it was the silents that provided sanctuary for good-looking Europeans with strong accents. He worked hard at Biograph, appearing in bit parts in The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) and Judith of Bethulia (1914), then drifted into serials, before signing with Paramount in 1923.
At once he was a leading man, appearing in four or five moxies a year, either opposite a major star (Swanson in the 1923 My American Wife and Negri the same year in The Spanish Dancer) or as the star himself (The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, also 1923, and the following year in things like Tiger Love). Bv this time, he was an official Latin Lover, just below Valentino and Novarro. Nineteen twenty-six was his miracle year, including his greatest role, the Captain in Rex Ingrams superb Mare Nostrum, revealing a gravity and depth that somehow hadn’t manifested themselves in Tiger Love. There was also Beverly of Graustark, opposite Marion Davies, and The Temptress, opposite Garbo.
And 1927 wasn’t far behind, given It, in which he’s a department store heir who falls for Clara Bow (as who wouldn’t). Elinor Glyn, the inventor of “It,’ proclaimed that the only ones in Hollywood who had it were Bow, Moreno, the Ambassador Hotel doorman, and Rex, the wild stallion. (Clara supposedly commented, “I was awfully confused about the horse, but if she thought he had it,’ then I figured he must be quite an animal. ") Onlv cynics would point out that she had previously pinned the “It medal on Wallace Reid, John Gilbert, and Valentino. In 1927, Moreno also made Venus of Venice with Constance Talmadge and, in England, Madame Pompadour with Dorothy Gish. Then came sound, and he was back wiiere he began: relegated to ethnic roles because of his accent. But he soldiered on for almost thirty- years, with supporting roles in minor movies (The Spanish Main, Mark of the Renegade, Creature from the Black Lagoon) and major ones: not only The Searchers but Captain from Castile.
There had been shady moments in his owm life—he was a close friend of the mysteriously murdered William Desmond Taylor, with whom he spent a good deal of time the week of Taylors death. And his wife, the oil heiress Daisy Canfield Danziger, went over a Mulholland Drive cliff in a car, sparking all kinds of rumors about Moreno’s possible complicity in her death as well as about his sexuality. Is this what Michael Powell, who was on the set during the filming oi Mare Nostrum, is implying when he observes in his autobiography that “not a speck of sexual fire passed between honest Tony and statuesque Alice [Terry]. They were ‘just good friends’”? We ll never know. A final claim to fame: apparently Mauritz Stiller was fired from The Temptress when he demanded that Moreno shave off his mustache, on the grounds that it made him look like an Italian waiter. The Latin Lover was not amused.