Ramón Novarro: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ramón Novarro
Born José Ramón Gil Samaniego
February 6, 1899(1899-02-06)
Durango, Mexico
Died October 30, 1968 (aged 69)
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
Other name(s) Ramon Samaniego
Ramón Samaniego
Ramon Samaniegos
Years active 1917-1968

Ramón Novarro (February 6, 1899 - October 30, 1968) was a [Foreign born Spaniard] American actor who achieved fame as a "Latin lover" in silent films.


Early life and career

Born José Ramón Gil Samaniego in Durango, Mexico, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, California to escape the Mexican Revolution in 1913.[1] A second cousin of the Mexican actresses Dolores del Río[2] and Andrea Palma, he entered films in 1917 playing bit parts, and supplemented his income by working as a singing waiter. His friends, the actor and director Rex Ingram and his wife, the actress Alice Terry, began to promote him as a rival to Rudolph Valentino and Ingram suggested he change his name to "Novarro". From 1923, he began to play more prominent roles. His role in Scaramouche (1923), brought him his first major success.

In 1925, he achieved his greatest success in Ben-Hur, with his revealing costumes causing a sensation, and Novarro was elevated into the Hollywood elite.[3] With Valentino's death in 1926, he became the screen's leading Latin actor, though ranked behind his MGM stablemate, John Gilbert, as a model lover. He was popular as a swashbuckler in action roles, and was also considered one of the great romantic lead actors of his day. Novarro appeared with Norma Shearer in The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) and appeared with Joan Crawford in Across to Singapore in 1928. He made his first talking film, starring as a singing French soldier, in Devil-May-Care (1929). Novarro starred with Greta Garbo in Mata Hari in 1932 and was a qualified success opposite Myrna Loy in The Barbarian (1933).

Later career

with Lupe Vélez in Laughing Boy (1934)

When Novarro's contract with MGM Studios expired in 1935, the studio did not renew it. He continued to act sporadically, appearing in films for Republic Pictures, a Mexican religious drama, and a French comedy. Later in the 1940s, he had several small roles in American films. He was considered for a role in the pilot television series The Green Peacock with Howard Duff and Ida Lupino, after the demise in 1958 of their CBS sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve. The project, however, never materialized. A Broadway tryout was aborted in the 1960s, but Novarro kept busy on television, appearing in NBC's The High Chaparral as late as 1968.

At the peak of his success in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he was earning more than US$100,000 per film. He invested some of his income in real estate. His Hollywood Hills residence is one of the more renowned designs (1927) by architect Lloyd Wright.[4] After his career ended, he was still able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

Personal life

Novarro had been troubled all his life as a result of his conflicting views over his Roman Catholic religion and his homosexuality. His life-long struggle with alcoholism is often traced to his issues surrounding his sexuality.[5][6][7] MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer reportedly tried to coerce Novarro into a "lavender marriage", which he refused.[8] He was a friend of adventurer and author Richard Halliburton, also a celebrity in the closet, and was romantically involved with journalist Herbert Howe, who was also his publicist during the late 1920's.


Novarro was murdered by two brothers, Paul and Tom Ferguson (aged 22 and 17 respectively)[9] whom he had hired from an agency to come to his Laurel Canyon home for sex. According to the prosecution in the murder case, the two young men believed that a large sum of money was hidden in Novarro's house. The prosecution accused them of torturing Novarro for several hours to force him to reveal where the nonexistent money was hidden. They left with a mere twenty dollars they took from his bathrobe pocket before fleeing the scene. Novarro allegedly died as a result of asphyxiation, choking to death on his own blood after being brutally beaten. The two brothers were later caught and sentenced to long prison terms, but were quickly released on probation. Both were later rearrested for unrelated crimes, for which they served longer terms than for their murder conviction.

Novarro is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles. Ramón Novarro has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6350 Hollywood Boulevard.

In popular culture

Novarro's murder served as the influence for the short story by Charles Bukowski, The Murder of Ramon Vasquez and the song by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, "Tango", recorded by Peggy Lee on her Mirrors album.

In late 2005, the Wings Theatre in New York City staged the world premiere of Through a Naked Lens by George Barthel. The play combined fact and fiction to depict Novarro's rise to fame and a relationship with Hollywood journalist Herbert Howe.

Novarro's relationship with Herbert Howe is discussed in two biographies: Allan R. Ellenberger's Ramon Novarro and André Soares's Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro.


Year Film Role Notes
1916 Joan the Woman Starving Peasant Uncredited
1917 The Jaguar's Claws Bandit Uncredited
The Little American Wounded Soldier Uncredited
The Hostage Uncredited
The Woman God Forgot Aztec man Uncredited
1918 The Goat Uncredited
1921 A Small Town Idol Dancer as Ramón Samaniego
The Concert Dancing shepherd Uncredited
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Guest at Ball Uncredited
Man-Woman-Marriage Dancer Uncredited
1922 Mr. Barnes of New York Antonio as Ramon Samaniego
The Prisoner of Zenda Rupert of Hentzau as Ramon Samaniegos
Trifling Women Henri/Ivan de Maupin
1923 Where the Pavement Ends Motauri
Scaramouche André-Louis Moreau, Quintin's Godson
1924 Thy Name Is Woman Juan Ricardo
The Arab Jamil Abdullah Azam
The Red Lily Jean Leonnec
1925 A Lover's Oath Ben Ali
The Midshipman Dick Randall
Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ Judah Ben-Hur
1927 Lovers? José
The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg Crown Prince Karl Heinrich
The Road to Romance José Armando
1928 Across to Singapore Joel Shore
A Certain Young Man Lord Gerald Brinsley
Forbidden Hours His Majesty, Michael IV
1929 The Flying Fleet Ens./Ltjg Tommy Winslow
The Pagan Henry Shoesmith, Jr.
Devil-May-Care Armand
1930 Le chanteur de Séville Juan French version of Call of the Flesh
In Gay Madrid Ricardo
The March of Time Himself Unfinished film
Call of the Flesh Juan de Dios
Sevilla de mis amores Juan de Dios Carbajal Spanish version of Call of the Flesh
1931 Daybreak Willi Kasder
Son of India Karim
Mata Hari Lt. Alexis Rosanoff
1932 Huddle Antonio 'Tony' Amatto
The Son-Daughter Tom Lee/Prince Chun
1933 The Barbarian Jamil El Shehab
1934 The Cat and the Fiddle Victor Florescu
Laughing Boy Laughing Boy
1935 The Night Is Young Archduke Paul "Gustl" Gustave
1936 Against the Current
Director, writer
1937 The Sheik Steps Out Ahmed Ben Nesib
1938 A Desperate Adventure André Friezan Alternative title: It Happened in Paris
1940 Ecco la felicità Felice Ciatti Italian version of La comédie du bonheur
La comédie du bonheur Félix French film
1942 The Saint That Forged a Country Juan Diego Mexican film
1949 We Were Strangers Chief
The Big Steal Inspector General Ortega
1950 The Outriders Don Antonio Chaves
Crisis Colonel Adragon
1960 Heller in Pink Tights De Leon
Year Title Role Notes
1958 Disney's Wonderful World Don Esteban Miranda 2 episode
1962 Thriller Maestro Giuliano 1 episode
1964 Dr. Kildare Gaspero Paolini 3 episodes
1965 Bonanza Jose Ortega 1 episode
1967 The Wild Wild West Don Tomas 1 episode


  1. ^ Meier, Matt S.; Gutiérrez, Margo (2003). The Mexican American Experience: An Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 284. ISBN 0-313-31643-0. 
  2. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 188. ISBN 1-557-83551-9. 
  3. ^ http://diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_7443.shtml
  4. ^ http://www.architechgallery.com/arch_info/artists_pages/lloyd_wright.html Lloyd Wright
  5. ^ Soares, André; Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro; St. Martin's Press, New York, 2002; p. 245
  6. ^ Mann, W; Behind the screen; Penguin, New York, 2002; p. 97
  7. ^ http://www.olvera-street.com/html/ramon_navarro.html
  8. ^ Holliday, Peter J, "Novarro, Ramon (1899-1968)", glbtq.com, http://www.glbtq.com/arts/novarro_r.html, retrieved 2007-11-01 
  9. ^ Maloney, J. J.. "The Murder of Ramon Novarro". crimemagazine.com. http://www.crimemagazine.com/Celebrities/ramonnov.htm. 

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address