José Riesgo was born José Cortina on September 8, 1919 in Madrid, Spain. After fighting with the Republican army during the Spanish Civil War, he became a plumber until in 1943 when he began working as an extra in films. In the following years he played in very small roles in films like “Los últimos de Filipinas” (1945) and “Botón de ancla” (1948).
Over the years, his appearances gained greater importance, though he never ventured from playing supporting roles. He became one of the most prolific actors in Spanish cinema, with nearly 150 titles. He worked with directors like Edgar Neville, Ladislao Vajda, Luis García Berlanga, Juan Antonio Bardem, Vicente Escrivá, Mariano Ozores, Juan de Orduna, José María Elorrieta, Pedro Lazaga and José María Forqué.
Riesgo appeared in 26 Euro-westerns from “The Judgment of the Coyote” in 1954 to “Revenge of the Black Wolf” in 1981. He appeared in such well known Euro-westerns as “A Fistful of Dollars”, “Minnesota Clay” (both 1964), “7 Guns for the MacGregors” (1965), “I Want Him Dead”, “The Mercenary” (both 1968), “A Bullet for Sandoval” (1969), “The Legend of Frenchie King” (1971) “Bad Man’s River” and “Sonny & Jed” (both 1972).
His greatest popularity, however, came to him through television appearances, when between 1979 and 1986 he played Julian on the popular children series ‘Sesame Street’, on Spanish TV. After 1987, José returned to play for some theatrical adaptations of Sesame Street. After this he retired from the stage and died on May 16, 2002.
Today we remember José Riesgo on what would have been his 95th birthday.