Frank Silvera

Biography

Frank Silvera (July 24, 1914 – June 11, 1970) was an American actor and theatrical director. Jamaican-born, he attended Northeastern Law School before becoming an actor after studying his craft at the Actors Studio. As a light-skinned African American, Silvera escaped the professional ghetto many black actors found themselves in during the 1950s and 1960s. Because of his appearance, and possibly because of his surname (which connoted an Portuguese Jewish heritage), Silvera was cast in a wide variety of ethnic roles in film, and was cast without regards to his color in the theater. He played the father of Ben Gazzara and Anthony Franciosa on Broadway in Micahel V. Gazzo's A Hatful of Rain (a role portrayed by Lloyd Nolan on screen). Until the 1960s, Silvera played "white" characters on Broadway, such as his Tony-nominated performance as the father Monsieur Duval in The Lady of the The Camelias in 1963. He threw off color-blind casting in 1965, when he financed his own production of The Amen Corner by the great African American writer James Baldwin. He was the Founder of "The Theatre of Being", a Los Angeles-based theater dedicated to helping black actors get a foothold in show business. He also appeared in the episode of The Twilight Zone "Person or Persons Unknown". In films and on television, he was also cast without regards to his color, though mostly as Latinos, even appearing as a Polynesian in the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty that starred Marlon Brando, with whom Silvera co-starred in Viva Zapata!, One-Eyed Jacks and The Appaloosa as Mexican characters. He appeared in two Stanley Kubrick-directed films, Fear and Desire (1953) and Killer's Kiss (1955) as either "white" or racially indeterminate (his "race" didn't matter as B+W film stock didn't register his "race" -- just the actor and his performance). In 1960, he guest starred in the episode "Music to Hurt By" in James Whitmore's The Law and Mr. Jones legal drama on ABC. Frank Silvera was accidentally electrocuted in his home at the age of fifty-six while he was attempting to repair an electrical appliance. At the time of his death, he was appearing on the NBC western series, The High Chaparral as the Mexican squire Don Sebastian Montoya. In 1973, Morgan Freeman, director/actress Billie Allen and journalist Clayton Riley honored Sivera and his efforts to support African American actors and playwrights by co-founding the Frank Silvera Writer's Workshop Foundation, Inc. The organization still sponsors promising African American playwrights. In 2005, the workshop was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg

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Known For
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Killer's Kiss

Vinnie Rapallo

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Fear and Desire

Sgt. Mac

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Valdez is Coming

Diego

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The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima

Council Administrator Arturo dos Santos

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White Mane

Narrator- English

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Uptight

Kyle

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The Boy from Dead Man's Bayou

Uncle Maxim

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The Mountain Road

Col. Kwan

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La Porta dei Sogni

Henry Simpson

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Key Witness

Det. Rafael Torno

Starring In
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Valdez is Coming

Diego

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The Boy from Dead Man's Bayou

Uncle Maxim

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Guns of the Magnificent Seven

Lobero

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Che!

Goatherd

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Uptight

Kyle

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The Stalking Moon

Major

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The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Nick Sorello

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Hombre

Mexican bandit

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The Appaloosa

Ramos -Pig Farmer

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The Greatest Story Ever Told

Caspar

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La Porta dei Sogni

Henry Simpson

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Mutiny on the Bounty

Minarii

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The Mountain Road

Col. Kwan

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Key Witness

Det. Rafael Torno

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Heller in Pink Tights

Santis

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Killer's Kiss

Vinnie Rapallo

Movie Poster

Fear and Desire

Sgt. Mac

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White Mane

Narrator- English

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Viva Zapata

Victoriano Huerta

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The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima

Council Administrator Arturo dos Santos

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The Cimarron Kid

Stacey Marshall

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