Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Remembering Iron Eyes Cody


Espera Oscar de Conti was born on April 3, 1907 in Gueydan, Louisiana. Espera was the son of two first-generation immigrants from Italy. In 1924 he moved to California, changed his name - already shortened from "de Corti" to "Corti" - to Cody, and started working as a stuntman and actor, presenting himself as a Native American. His brother J.W. Cody [1902-1978] was also an actor. Iron Eyes married an Indian woman, Bertha Eyes ‘Birdie’ [1907-1978] Parker, and together they adopted two Indian sons. Iron Eyes Cody lived and worked as an Indian for all his adult life. He’s probably best remembered as the  Indian that sheds a single tear for a blighted American environment in "Keep America Beautiful" ads that ran from 1971 into the 1980s. Cody made one Euro-western “El Condor” (1970). Although not a true Indian his heart was in the right place and he labored for decades to promote Native American causes, and was honored by Hollywood's Native American community in 1995 for his efforts. Today we remember Iron Eyes Cody on what would have been his 105th birthday.

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