Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happy 80th Birthday Victor Israel

Born José María Soler Vilanova in Barcelona, Barcelona Catalonia, Spain on June 13, 1929, he is one of the most prolific of all Spanish character actors yet often overlooked and underrated in Spanish films. He began acting in the early 1960s and his short, dumpy, pudgy face with thinning hair, crooked teeth and eyes like Jack Elam made for unforgettable characters. He was one of those actors you recognized immediately but didn’t know his name. He usually played timid cowards, padres, working class types and meek victims. His most famous part was never seen by most Americans until the restored version of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” was released here in the mid-2000s. He was the sergeant Lee Van Cleef encountered at the Confederate hospital while trying to find the whereabouts of Bill Carson. Perfect for Horror films Victor has made quite a few including “The House that Screamed” (1969), “Graveyard of Horror” (1971) and “Horror Express” (1972). Victor now appears only occasionally in films and TV shows. Today we celebrate his 80th birthday.

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