Manuel Rafael Hernández Montoya was born on July 28, 1959 in Los Albaricoques, Nijar, Andalusia, Spain. Manuel grew up in Los Albaricoques and was a small boy when Sergio Leone and his crew came to town to film “Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More”. His mother, aunt and cousin were used as extras in the films. In “For a Few Dollars More” the town had recently held a funeral for one of the citizens and the women were still shrouded in black dress which was perfect for Sergio as inhabitants of his fictional Agua Caliente where the townspeople didn’t like visitors. Manuel himself would later play a young soldier in “El Condor” (1969).
A former teacher, today he owns the Hostal Rural Alba and Casa Rural La Minilla. Manuel has been instrumental in preserving the history of the village. Street names have been named after Leone, Van Cleef and Eastwood. He was instrumental in reconstructing the deteriorated ring where the final showdown between Colonel Mortime and El Indio took place. His Hostal contains many murals and photos from the days when films were made in the town. He’s even created his own brand of wine with Clint Eastwood pictured on the label. In 2013 he was a prominent figure in the TV episode ‘Este es mi pueblo: El Cortijo de El Fraile y Los Albaricoques’ dressed as Lee Van Cleef and proudly showing off the town.
As the head of the Nijar Cultural Development Committee put together an homage for the 25th anniversary of Sergio Leone’s death and the town had a one day celebration with a staging of scenes from “For a Few Dollars More” and a showing of the film.
Today we celebrate the 55th birthday, one of the men who is keeping the dream alive Manuel R. Hernández.