Thursday, September 20, 2012

Remembering Fernando Rey

Fernando Casado Arambillet was born on September 20, 1917 in A Coruña, Galicia Spain. Known to cinema goers as Fernando Rey, the great Spanish movie actor primarily known in the United States for his role as ‘Frog One’ in “The French Connection” (1971) and its sequel, was the son of Colonel Casado Veiga. Originally, the young Fernando intended to become an architect. However, when the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936, his architectural studies were interrupted, and he gained employment as a movie extra. He took the stage name "Fernando Rey" at the beginning of his career, equivalent, in English, to "Fernando King". Eight years after his movie debut, he was cast in his first major speaking role, as the Duke de Alba in José López Rubio's 1944 movie "Eugenia de Montijo".

Rey enjoyed a long and prosperous career as an actor in movies, the theater, radio, and television. He also was a major voice-over artist in Spain, narrating films and dubbing the voices of actors in foreign films. Rey's most fruitful collaboration was with the great director Luis Buñuel, which began during the 1960s and continued through the 1970s. The films that Rey appeared in for Buñuel made him an international star, the first produced by the Spanish cinema. By the early 1970s, Rey's career reached its high point, with his co-starring role in "The French Connection" and his starring role in Buñuel's “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972). Rey followed up these successes by appearing Buñuel's“That Obscure Object of Desire” (1977), an art-house hit that was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Ironically, in the film, Rey's voice was dubbed into French by Michel Piccoli. That same year, he won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for Carlos Saura's “Elisa, vida mía” (1977). Rey appeared in fourteen Euro-westerns from “The Savage Guns” (1961) to “Rustler’s Rhapsody” (1985).

Many honors came to Rey in the twilight of his career, during the 1980s and 1990s. He was awarded at San Sebastián and Cannes, and was presented with the gold medal of the Spanish Art and Movie Sciences Academy. He became the president of that Academy from 1992 till his death from cancer on March 9, 1994 in Madrid, Spain. Today we remember Fernando Rey on what would have been his 95th birthday.

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