José Manuel Martín Pérez was born on May 24, 1924 in Casavieja, Ávila, Castilla y León, Spain. Pérez studied at Madrid's Teatro Español Universitario and the Lope de Rueda, and began working for Radio Nacional de España in 1942, before making his feature film debut in César Fernández Ardavín's 1952 war drama “La llamada de África”. This was followed by minor roles in the Ángel Vilches' adventure film “A dos grados del Ecuador” (1953), the Luis Lucia comedy “Aeropuerto” (1953), and Rafael Gil's religious-themed historical dramas “I Was a Parish Priest” (1953) and “Judas' Kiss” (1954). He received his first supporting role, as Muñoz, in Gil's next film “Murió hace quince años” (1954) appearing alongside Rafael Rivelles, Francisco Rabal and Lyla Rocco. He also started working in television joining the cast of ‘Diego Valor’ in 1958. Pérez continued on in supporting roles for number of other films then being shot in Almería and elsewhere.
In the early-1960s, Eurowesterns, which would evolve into the popular Spaghetti Westerns, were being shot in Almería. Pérez was among a number of Spanish character actors to find fame in this new genre. His background playing villains made him ideal for being cast as a Mexican bandit or henchman. Pérez's prolific appearances made him one of the most recognizable Spanish actors involved in the genre, rivaling those of fellow Spaghetti Western regulars such as Aldo Sambrell and Fernando Sancho, and is considered one of the best villains of the era. Martin appeared in over 30 Euro-westerns from “The Savage Guns” (1961) to “Al este del Oeste” (1983).
In between Spaghetti Westerns, Pérez also had supporting roles in “The Ceremony” (1963), “Operation Atlantis” (1965), “Fall of the Mohicans” (1965), “Con el viento Solano” (1966), and “Bewitched Love” (1967).
In the late-1960s and 1970s, Pérez starred in Spanish horror films such as Sax Rohmer's “The Castle of Fu Manchu” (1969), “The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff” (1973), “Count Dracula's Great Love” (1974), and “Curse of the Devil” (1974). An author of numerous poems, he occasionally tried his hand at screenwriting. His first script was for Rafael Romero Marchent's “The Student Connection” (1974), co-written with Luciano Ercoli, José Luis Navarro, and Marchent.
In the early-2000s, Pérez made one-time guest appearances on television series ‘Policías, en el corazón de la calle’ and ‘Los Serrano’. He also had a cameo on ‘Dunia Ayaso’ and Félix Sabroso's dramady ‘Descongélate!’ (2003), starring Pepón Nieto, Candela Peña and Loles León.
Today we celebrate one of the great character actors of the Euro-western genre, José Manuel Martín’s 90th birthday.