Ferrer, José (1912–1992)

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Ferrer, José (1912–1992)

Born in Puerto Rico on January 8, 1912, actor, director, and producer José Ferrer (José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón) received numerous honors, including three Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre (Tony Awards) and an Academy Award (Oscar Award) for Best Actor, throughout his distinguished career. This feat places him among a select group of actors who have earned both the Tony (1947) and the Oscar (1950) for playing the same role—in his case, Cyrano de Bergerac—on both stage and film. Ferrer was the first Hispanic American actor to have garnered such prestigious awards. The son of a well-off family, Ferrer received a privileged education, attending one year of preparatory school in Switzerland before entering Princeton University, and graduating in 1933 with an architecture degree. In 1935 he debuted professionally on Broadway and by the early 1940s was poised to become a leading figure on the theatrical scene. He made his film debut in 1948 with Joan of Arc, and began screen directing in 1955, once again breaking new ground as Hollywood's first Hispanic American director with the film The Shrike. In the 1960s, he added television to his portfolio. Ferrer has been associated with some of Hollywood's most important films, including Joan of Arc (1948), Moulin Rouge (1952), The Caine Mutiny (1954), Return to Peyton Place (1961), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Ferrer supported various progressive causes—including opposition to segregation policies affecting African American artists and condemnation of the Francisco Franco dictatorship in Spain—that often put him at odds with the political establishment. In the McCarthy era, the celebrated actor came under the scrutiny of the United States Congress's House Committee on Un-American Activities that investigated the alleged influence of the Left in the entertainment industry. He was cleared of any political transgressions and never blacklisted. His induction in 1981 into the Theater Hall of Fame and the National Medal of Arts accorded to him in 1985—the highest recognition given to artists by the United States Government—confirmed Ferrer's lifetime achievements. José Ferrer remained active in the performing arts until the eve of his death on January 26, 1992.

See alsoCinema: From the Silent Film to 1990 .


Bucklet, Michael. "Jose Ferrer (Part I)." Films in Review (February 1987): 66-75.

Bucklet, Michael. "Jose Ferrer (Part II)." Films in Review (March 1987): 130-145.

Lambert, Bruce. "José Ferrer, Actor, Writer and Director, 80, Is Dead." New York Times, 27 January 1992, p. A1.

                                     Luis A. GonzÁlez