Friday, August 26, 2011

HOLA Legends: Raúl Dávila

Raúl Dávila (1931–2006) was an actor, director, translator and producer, who is best remembered for his role of Héctor Santos in the American soap opera "All My Children."

He was born on September 15, 1931 in San Juan, Puerto Rico where he received his primary and secondary education. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico where he studied dramatic arts. He continued his education at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. and then earned his Masters Degree in Dramatic Arts from the Pasadena Playhouse in California, U.S.A.

In 1957, he began his acting career in Puerto Rico's Telemundo television station. He worked in over 20 locally produced soap operas alongside the likes of Braulio Castillo and Mario Pabón. After six years with Telemundo, he decided to try his luck in the United States and moved to New York City.He arrived in the city on November 23, 1963, the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. At first it was difficult for him to find work as an actor, since in the 1960s there wasn't much of a demand for Hispanic actors. With the help of fellow Puerto Rican Raúl Juliá and Míriam Colón, he was able to find work in a Spanish language television station program called "Tribuna Hispana" (Hispanic Tribune), which was followed by "Mundo Latino," "De tú a tú con Raúl," "Realidades" and "The Puerto Rican New Yorker." He worked as an on-air personality as well as a producer.

He presided over the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA), an organization to actor Raúl Juliá lent his support. The organizations goal is to celebrate Latino achievements in the field of entertainment. He began making appearances on some of the popular television shows of the day, such as "The Patty Duke Show," "The Defenders" and "East Side." He also landed small roles in the movies The Man with My Face, Counterplot and Felicia. Besides those small roles he supported himself by making commercials for Campbell's Soup, Colgate and The New York Telephone Company. His theater credits include Bodas de Sangra, Yerma, South Pacific, Kiss me Kate, La vida es un sueño, The King and I, The Sound of Music and The Diary of Anne Frank. He also directed several plays and translated several plays from Spanish to English, including Barefoot in the Park with George and Gigi.

In 1985, he returned to the island to film La gran fiesta, a film produced and directed by Jacobo Morales. In 1987, he acted in the film The Believers alongside actor Martin Sheen. He also acted in the American soap operas "The Guiding Light," "The Doctors" and "All My Children," the last of which he played the role of Héctor Santos for four years. His other film and television credits include Heroína (1965), El Escuadrón del pánico (1966), "Private Sessions" (1985), "Florida Straits" (1986), "The Trial of Bernhard Goetz" (1988), "The Old Man and the Sea" (1990), Fires Within (1991), Le Grand Pardon II (1992), "New York Undercover" (1994) and "Law & Order" (1994).

He lived in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A., but he traveled constantly between New Jersey and Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, he played the lead role in the television comedy "Carmelo y Punto." He also acted in three locally produced films, Linda Sara (with Chayanne and Dayanara Torres), Milagro en Yauco and Los Díaz de Doris. He passed away on January 2, 2006, at his home in Newark, New Jersey from a heart attack. He left behind his wife, Isabel Pérez de Dávila and three children. On January 6, 2006, New York Democratic Congressman José E. Serrano released a statement to be submitted to the Congressional Record honoring Dávila. On September 15, 2007, he was honored by the city of Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A., and its municipal council by renaming the corner of Elwood and Mount Prospect avenues as Raúl Dávila Plaza.

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