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Hispanic American Actor

Jose Vicente Ferrer

The first Hispanic American Actor to win the Oscar for Best Actor is José Vicente Ferrer (career years 1912 to 1992). He's not only an actor but also a director and producer. He was born Jose Vicente Ferrer Otero y Cintron in 1909 in Santurce, Puerto Rico.

Ferrer made his debut in 1935 and in 1940 gained acclaim in Charley's Aunt and again in 1943 playing Iago to Paul Robeson's Othello. A versatile actor with a rich and powerful voice, he had appeared in many films, including The Caine Mutiny (1954) and Ship of Fools (1965). In 1950 he won an Academy Award for his performance in Cyrano de Bergerac.


Rita Moreno

The first Hispanic American Actress to win an Oscar is Rita Moreno for her role as Anita in West Side Story (1961). Born Rosita Dolores Alverio on December 11, 1931 in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Rita was not only an actress, but also a dancer and singer.

Moreno first appeared in film at the age of fourteen, in A Medal for Benny (1945). She played in several movies (notably The King and I in 1956) until her role as Anita in West Side Story (1961) brought her fame and an Oscar as best supporting actress. Her work in television included appearances on The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files. Moreno was the first actress to bag an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony. More recently, she appeared in Blue Moon (2000) and in John Sayles' Casa de los Babys (2003).


Benicio del Toro

Just like Jose Vicente Ferrer, the first Hispanic American actor who won an Oscar, another Hispanic American actor, Benicio del Toro also hailed from Santurce, Puerto Rico on February 19, 1967. Born Benicio Monserrat Rafael Del Toro Sanchez in San Germán, Puerto Rico, Benicio grew up in Santurce, but spent his teens and attended high school in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.

Benicio also made history as the first Hispanic American actor to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Traffic (2000).

He's an intense actor who has recently made the jump from intriguing supporting performances to more featured roles in Excess Baggage (1997) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), where he plays sidekick Dr. Gonzo to Johnny Depp's main character. Del Toro won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor his roles in The Usual Suspects (1995) and Basquiat (1996). He was propelled to Hollywood's A-list in 2000, appearing in Traffic, for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, and Snatch.

Source: Information Please ® Database, © 2006 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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