Obituary: Cesar Romero

Caesar Julius Romero (Cesar Romero), actor: born New York City 15 February 1907; died Santa Monica, California 1 January 1994.

CESAR ROMERO was the most ubiquitous - and his career was the longest - of those actors who, starting with Valentino, were typecast as Latin lovers. This meant being suave and slick, as in one of his earliest films, The Thin Man (1934), when for a while audiences weren't quite sure whether he was Minna Gombell's husband or her gigolo. It was his appearance in the Broadway hit Dinner at Eight which had attracted the interest of the studios.

The world, then, was Hollywood's oyster and, since he hardly looked like a red-blooded Grade-A American baseball player, Romero was cast as various foreigners, usually treacherous: an Indian nabob in Clive of India, a Russian prince spying for Germany in Rendezvous (both 1935). As a young French lover in Cardinal Richelieu, he was innocuous, and he was ludicrous as Marlene Dietrich's true love in The Devil is a Woman (both 1935). She was 'the toast of Spain . . . the most dangerous woman you'll ever meet,' says Lionel Atwill, at the same time so besotted with her that he refuses to cede her to the much younger Romero.

Twentieth Century-Fox engaged Romero to play a notorious Indian chieftain in Wee Willie Winkie (1937) - which turned Kipling's boy hero into Shirley Temple - and put him under contract. Over the next few years Fox had a number of female stars as popular as Miss Temple, including Sonja Henie, Loretta Young, Alice Faye and Betty Grable. The arrival of another, Carmen Miranda, called for stories set South of the Border. Romero's days of villainy and paid love were over, with the bonus of his name sometimes above the title: but he was invariably the Other Man, the fall-guy, or best buddy to the hero or heroine.

He was also the Cisco Kid, a 'lovable', daredevil Mexican bandit first played by Warner Baxter in several early talkies. Fox resurrected him for Return of the Cisco Kid (1939), but the half-dozen films which followed - all Bs - provoked little interest. Romero looked better, however, in the Kid's buttons and bows than in the white tie and tails, the tuxes and the bum-jackets which he usually sported. He was usually dressed as though escorting a pretty doll to a night-club because that was what he was usually doing.

Fox gave him a rare taxing role in Captain from Castile (1947), as Cortez, and he was capable but hardly more. The star was Tyrone Power, with whom Romero was said to have had a long-standing romance. In studio parlance, Romero was 'a confirmed bachelor'.

When the studio system broke up in the early 1950s Romero's familiarity as a character actor was strong enough to keep him in work over the next 30 years. His career received a fillip when he played the Joker in the television series Batman, and he reprised it in the 1966 movie which capitalised on its popularity. In recent years, looking distinguished with white hair and his trim trademark moustache, he was often to be found introducing his films on American television and reminiscing about their stars. Very often, in fact, since there were few with whom he had not worked.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory