Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Betcha Didn't Know...?

Some of the most notable names from the dawn of film and television are of Latino descent. Here are some of them.

In this edition, an Academy Award winner, a BAFTA Award winner, a César Award winner and the first Latino castmember of the Emmy Award winning, iconic NBC series "Saturday Night Live."

Mercedes Ruehl (1948– ) was born in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York, New York, U.S.A., to a mother of Cuban and Irish descent and a father of German and Irish descent. An actor, she began her career in regional theatre with the Denver Center Theatre Company, in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., taking odd jobs between engagements. In the late 1970s, she began chalking up New York stage successes, notably in I'm Not Rappaport (1984). On the stage, she won the 1984 Obie Award for her performance in The Marriage of Bette and Boo and twenty years later, an Obie for Woman Before a Glass. She also received a 1991 Tony Award as Best Actress in a Play for Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers. She also received Tony nominations in 1995 for Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for the revival of The Shadow Box and in 2002 for Best Actress in a Play for Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? Her most acclaimed film role was in The Fisher King; her performance in the film earned her the 1991 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as an American Comedy Award, a Boston Society of Film Critics Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award and a Golden Globe Award. Earlier she had won the 1989 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Married to the Mob. She played KACL station manager Kate Costas in five episodes of "Frasier," and had a major role in the made-for-TV film "All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story." She has also played the mother of Vincent Chase in HBO's "Entourage." She is the first Cuban American female Academy Award winner. In 2005, she (along with Esaí Morales) received the Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA). She is married to painter David Geiser and has two sons.

Helena Bonham Carter
(1966- ), born Helena Bonham Carter Propper de Callejón al estilo latino in Golders Green, London, England, U.K., to a psychotherapist mother of Spanish-Bohemian Jewish heritage and an economist father of English heritage. Her paternal family has a strong political background with numerous politicians (her great-grandfather was prime minister of Britain from 1908–1916). Her maternal grandfather, Spanish diplomat Eduardo Propper de Callejón, saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust during World War II. An actress of film, stage, and television, she made her acting debut in a television adaptation of K.M. Peyton's "A Pattern of Roses" before winning her first film role as the titular character in Lady Jane. She is known for her roles in films such as A Room with A View, Fight Club and the Harry Potter series, as well as for frequently collaborating with director and domestic partner Tim Burton. A two-time Academy Award nominee for her performances in The Wings of the Dove and The King's Speech, her acting has been further recognised with six Golden Globe nominations, an International Emmy Award, and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award. Her breakthrough role was Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View. She then also appeared in episodes of "Miami Vice" as Don Johnson's love interest during the 1986–87 season. She appeared in a dream sequence during season 2 of the UK comedy series "Absolutely Fabulous," playing Edina Monsoon's daughter Saffie (throughout the series, references to physical similarities between Bonham Carter and the character of Saffie were made). These early films led to her to being typecast as a "corset queen" and "English rose," playing pre- and early 20th century characters, particularly in Merchant-Ivory films. She has since expanded her range, with her more recent films being Fight Club, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Big Fish, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland. She speaks French fluently, starring in a 1996 French film Portraits chinois. She played Bellatrix Lestrange in 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2010's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1, and 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. She also appeared in the fourth Terminator film entitled Terminator Salvation, playing a small but pivotal role. Her role as Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later known as Queen Elizabeth) in the film The King's Speech (2010), earned her a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, as well as an Academy Award nomination. In 2001, she began her current relationship with director Tim Burton, whom she met while filming Planet of the Apes. Burton has taken to casting her in his movies, including Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland. Their son Billy Raymond Burton was born on 4 October 2003. Her second child, a daughter named Nell Burton was born on 15 December 2007.

Olivier Martínez (1966- ) was born in Paris, Île-de-France, France to a Spanish father born in Spanish Morocco and a French mother. An actor, he became known after roles in several French films, and has also appeared in Hollywood-produced features, including Unfaithful. He studied at the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique (CNSAD; French National Academy of Dramatic Arts) and began his acting career in his native France in 1990, and quickly achieved a relative success. In 1994, he won a César Award (France's highest acting award, akin to the U.S. Academy Award) as "Most Promising Actor" for his role in Un, deux, trois, soleil (1993). He first came to mainstream attention in Hollywood films with his performance opposite Diane Lane in Unfaithful (2002). He has since appeared in a television adaptation of "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" (2003), S.W.A.T. (2003) and Taking Lives (2004). He also starred as Gabriel in the 2007 movie adaptation of Blood and Chocolate, a popular book. Other film credits include Mon homme, La ciudad de los prodigios, Nosotras, La Femme de chambre du Titanic, Toreros, Before Night Falls, Semana Santa, IP5: L'île aux Pachydermes and the upcoming Dark Tide (starring Halle Berry).

Horatio Sanz (1969- ) was born in Santiago de Chile to Chilean parents. He is an actor and comedian best known as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" from 1998-2006. He most recently starred alongside his former SNL castmate Chris Parnell in the Comedy Central series "Big Lake." He was the youngest of three sons and grew up in the North Pulaski neighborhood on the west side of Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. Starstruck at an early age, he honed his skills in Chicago, where he performed at various theaters, including The Court Theater and The Second City. While in Chicago, he was also one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) sketch comedy and improv troupe. He can still be seen regularly performing with the sketch troupe at their long-running hit improv show "ASSSSCAT 3000," at both of the UCB's popular comedy theaters located in New York City and Los Angeles. He joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in September 1998. He was the fourth cast member in SNL history to be born outside of North America after Tony Rosato, Pamela Stephenson and Morwenna Banks. At the beginning of the show's 31st season, he was the temporary replacement for Tina Fey as Amy Poehler's "Weekend Update" co-anchor while Fey was on maternity leave until she resumed her duties in October 2005. He left the show in 2006. He returned to SNL as a guest on February 3, 2007, appearing as Elton John, and again on November 3, 2008 as presidential candidate Bill Richardson. Some of his additional notable celebrity impressions on the show include Alfred Hitchcock, Aaron Neville, Ozzy Osbourne, Rosie O'Donnell, Barney Frank, Billy Joel, Freddy Fender, Ron Jeremy, Saddam Hussein, Matt LeBlanc, Kim-Jong-il, Vin Diesel, Jerry García, Bruce Vilanch, Gerardo, Truman Capote, Jimmy Buffett and Louie Anderson. He is currently a producer, writer and occasional guest performer on the Comedy Central sketch series "Nick Swardson's Pretend Time."

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