86 (passed away Jan. 1st, 1994)
Feb. 15th, 1907
New York City, New York, USA
Cesar Romero's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Tall, suave and sophisticated Cesar Romero actually had two claims to fame in Hollywood. To one generation, he was the distinguished Latin lover of numerous musicals and romantic comedies, and the rogue bandit The Cisco Kid in a string of low-budget westerns. However, to a younger generation weaned on television, Romero was better known as the white-faced, green-haired, cackling villain The Joker of the camp 1960s TV series "Batman" (1966), and as a bumbling corporate villain in a spate of Walt Disney comedies, such as chasing a young Kurt Russell (I) in the fun-packed The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969). Fans and critics alike agreed that Romero was a major talent who proved himself an enduring and versatile star in an overwhelming variety of roles in a career as an actor, dancer and comedian that lasted nearly 60 years.
Cesar Romero was born of Cuban parents in New York City in February 1907. He attended Collegiate & Riverdale County Schools before working as a ballroom dancer. He first appeared on Broadway in the 1927 production of Lady Do, and then in the stage production of Strictly Dishonorable. His first film role was in The Shadow Laughs (1933), after which he gave strong performances in The Devil Is a Woman (1935) and in the Shirley Temple favorite, Wee Willie Winkie (1937).
Critics and fans generally agree that Romero's best performance was as the Spanish explorer Cortez in Captain from Castile (1947). However, he also shone in the delightful Julia Misbehaves (1948) and several other breezy and light-hearted escapades. In 1953 he starred in the 39-part espionage TV serial "Passport to Danger" (1954), which earned him a considerable income due to a canny profit-sharing arrangement. Although Romero became quite wealthy and had no need to work, he could not stay away from being in front of the cameras. He continued to appear in a broad variety of film roles, but surprised everyone in Hollywood by taking on the role of "The Joker" in the hugely successful TV series "Batman" (1966). He refused to shave his trademark mustache for the role, and close observation shows how the white clown makeup went straight on over his much loved mustache! The appearances in Batman were actually only a small part of the enormous amount of work that Romero contributed to television. He guest-starred in dozens of shows, including "Rawhide" (1959), "77 Sunset Strip" (1958), "Zorro" (1957), "Fantasy Island" (1978) and "Murder, She Wrote" (1984). However, it was The Joker for which his TV work was best remembered, and Romero often remarked that for many, many years after Batman ended, fans would stop him and ask him to chuckle and giggle away just like he did as The Joker. Romero always obliged, and both he and the fans just loved it!
With a new appeal to a younger fan base, Romero turned up in three highly popular Disney comedies: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969), Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972) and The Strongest Man in the World (1975) as corrupt but inept villain A.J. Arno. Throughout the remainder of the 1980s Romero remained busy, and even at 78 years of age the ladies still loved his charm, and he was cast as Jane Wyman's love interest in the top-rated prime-time soap opera "Falcon Crest" (1981), playing Peter Stavros from 1985 to 1987.
Although Romero stopped acting in 1990, he remained busy, regularly hosting classic movie programs on cable television. A talented and much loved Hollywood icon, he passed away on New Year's Day 1994, at the age of 86.
- Has never worked with 'George Clooney' (qv), but Clooney has nevertheless played the title character from two of his movies. Romero played the Joker in _"Batman" (1966)_ (qv), and Clooney played Batman in _Batman & Robin (1997)_ (qv). Romero also appeared in the original _Ocean's Eleven (1960)_ (qv), the remake of which starred Clooney.
- Believed in "liberation theology," a political system of Marxism-Christianity, which purports that, despite the fact that 'Karl Marx' called religion "the opiate of the masses," religion and communism are still compatible. Romero was very Christian yet still believed in a utopian society (believing that Christ's kingdom would be very similar to Marx's vision of communism) and clung to this belief until his death.
- His maternal grandparents were the exiled Cubans Carmen and her invalid husband, Manuel Mantilla. Their daughter María Mantilla, César Romero's mother, is generally believed to have been the daughter of Cuban poet and Revolutionary leader 'José Marti' (qv), who also wrote "Guantánamera" ("Yo soy un hombre sincero . . . ").
- He believed that to live well you must dress well. And never in the same outfit. His closets held 30 tuxedos, 200 sports jackets, and 500 suits.
- Towards the end of his life, he was interviewed by author 'Boze Hadleigh' (qv), and gave a revealing, often comic account of what life was like in the Golden Age of Hollywood for a openly closeted gay man (i.e., out to everyone but "the public"). The interview is included in Hadleigh's book, "Hollywood Gays".
- Refused to shave off his mustache when he played the role of The Joker in _"Batman" (1966)_ (qv). Close observation shows how the white clown make- up was applied right over his much loved mustache.
- TV writer 'Mark Evanier' (qv) remarked that Romero was usually easily available to cast for TV show guest appearances. Apparently, Evanier knew at least one crew member on a TV show who prepared roles with Romero in mind as a default choice in the likely event that a preferred guest star would pull out of a guest appearance.
- Is one of two Batman villains to share a role with an actor who played Batman. He, 'Adam West (I)' (qv) and 'Val Kilmer' (qv) have both played John 'Doc' Holliday, in _Frontier Marshal (1939)_ (qv), _"Colt .45" (1957)_ (qv), _"Lawman" (1958)_ (qv) and _Tombstone (1993)_ (qv), respectively. 'Christian Bale' (qv) and 'Heath Ledger' (qv) both played 'Bob Dylan' (qv) in _I'm Not There. (2007)_ (qv).
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