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Ricardo Cortez was an American actor (despite his name!) from the 1910s to the 1950s. He was born in New York City to Austrian/Jewish parents, and his birth name was Jacob Krantz. He arrived in Hollywood when Rudolph Valentino had become a gigantic star, and Paramount changed his name to Ricardo Cortez, and gave him a false Spanish background, and completely hid his Jewish origins, and surely very few of his fans were aware of this (and the same is probably true of many of his modern day fans!). While Paramount wanted him to be the successor to Valentino (especially after his untimely passing), Cortez never had that kind of success in those roles. But when sound movies came along, he was one of the few silent stars to make a successful transition to sound. Perhaps he is best remembered for playing Sam Spade in the original 1931 version of "The Maltese Falcon". But his career started going downhill after a few years, and he directed six movies, and then he retired, and joined a Wall Street brokerage firm! Cortez passed away in 1977 at the age of 76.
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