Henry Silva, A Versatile Hollywood Villain, Has Died At 95!

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Henry Silva, a character actor who rose to prominence in the 1950s and early 1960s, died on September 14 in Los Angeles. He was 95.

He rose to prominence as “Mother,” a sinister dope peddler in “A Hatful of Rain,” and as a malevolent North Korean houseboy in “The Manchurian Candidate.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, mobsters and other criminals frequently complimented his work. “‘My God, where did you learn how to play us?'” ‘I lived with “us,”‘ I say. In New York, I grew up with “us.” I used to know the guys who ran the prostitution rings in the area. I used to shine their shoes for them. ‘Kid, c’mere,’ they’d say. I’d like you to shine my shoes. If you screw up, I’ll bust your head.”

Mr. Silva was born in Brooklyn on September 23, 1926, to Puerto Rican parents, and grew up in Spanish Harlem. When he was about six months old, his father abandoned the family. His mother couldn’t read or write. Mr. Silva was a shy student who was often scared in elementary school because he didn’t understand English until he was eight.

About Henry Silva?

Henry is best known for his eloquent performances in the films Ocean’s 11 and The Manchurian Candidate. As he was 95 years old, the cause of death was natural causes. His son Scott broke the news of his death to the media, which was excruciating for those who admired him.

His death has left a void, and tributes and condolences have flooded the internet and social media. Henry’s health was deteriorating as he approached the age of 95, and doctors predicted that the end would come soon. He was suffering from natural causes, which is unavoidable in the life of a 90-year-old man.

Henry Silva, an actor who rose to prominence in the 1950s and early 1960s playing smooth-faced, rough-edged heavies in Hollywood dramas such as “A Hatful of Rain” and “The Manchurian Candidate,” died Sept. 14 in Los Angeles. He was 95.

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Mr. Silva became one of Hollywood’s busiest character actors over a five-decade career, with over 130 credits in films and television. He was of Puerto Rican descent, but he had a face that allowed for “great diversification,” as he once quipped.

Mr. Silva was unusually attractive, with his poker face, close-set eyes, blade-like cheekbones, and sinuous physicality capable of conveying eerie menace or rugged masculinity. He made his Broadway debut in 1955 as the well-dressed but malevolent narcotics pusher in “A Hatful of Rain,” a role he reprised on screen in 1957.

Mr. Silva played a communist agent in “The Manchurian Candidate,” a 1962 film based on Richard Condon’s novel about Cold War paranoia. He poses as a manservant to a Korean War veteran (Laurence Harvey) who has been brainwashed into assassinating a US presidential candidate by communists.

“The Manchurian Candidate,” which also starred Frank Sinatra, initially bombed at the box office but is now regarded as a taut classic. When the film was rereleased in 1988, critic Peter Travers wrote in People magazine that Mr. Silva hits “a high in lowdown villainy that hasn’t been matched since.”

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Mr. Silva’s other early films include “Viva Zapata!” (1952), in which he plays a Mexican peasant who confronts Marlon Brando’s revolutionary title character; the Gregory Peck western “The Bravados” (1958), in which he plays an American Indian who belongs to a gang of murderous outlaws; and “Green Mansions” (1959), in which he plays a Venezuelan tribal chief’s bad-seed son.

Mr. Silva, in a change of pace, played one of Jerry Lewis’ stepbrothers in “Cinderfella” and was a member of Sinatra’s “Rat Pack” band of casino thieves in “Ocean’s Eleven” (both 1960).

Mr. Silva said he admired Humphrey Bogart and John Garfield and wished he could play their tough-guy leading men. In “Johnny Cool,” he got his chance (1963). His portrayal of a Sicilian-born gangster who hides his killer instincts behind a thin dapper veneer did not impress audiences or critics at first.

But “Johnny Cool” developed a cult following over time. Among its fans was director Jim Jarmusch, who cast Mr. Silva in “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” as a cartoon-obsessed mob capo (1999). “Henry’s face is almost like a mask,” Jarmusch said, “but the things that flicker across it can be very interesting.”

Mr. Silva took an extended break from Hollywood to work in Europe, where he played the Japanese detective hero in “The Return of Mr. Moto” (1965) and won top-billed gritty parts in spaghetti westerns like “The Hills Run Red” (1966) and action films like “Assassination” (1967) and “The Boss” (1968). (1973).

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Actor Henry Silva on set of the movie “The Secret Invasion” in 1964. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, mobsters and other criminals frequently complimented his work. “‘My God, where did you learn how to play us?'” ‘I lived with “us,”‘ I say. In New York, I grew up with “us.” I used to know the guys who ran the prostitution rings in the area. I used to shine their shoes for them. ‘Kid, c’mere,’ they’d say. I’d like you to shine my shoes. If you screw up, I’ll bust your head.”

Mr. Silva was born in Brooklyn on September 23, 1926, to Puerto Rican parents, and grew up in Spanish Harlem. When he was about six months old, his father abandoned the family. His mother couldn’t read or write. Mr. Silva was a shy student who was often scared in elementary school because he didn’t understand English until he was eight.

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HImansh is a freelance writer and editor specializing in Public Relations, Culture, Politics and the intersection between them. He's a St.Xavier's College Graduate who has a degree in Public Relations. He's currently based in Chandigarh, India Word from Himansh: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”