Wednesday, January 12, 2022

German Cobos and the Spanish actors' strike of 1975

 Passio n Cinema

By Angelo D’Ambra

December 23, 2021


A face known to the Italian public of the 1960s, German Cobos was born in Seville in 1927. He studied dramatic art in Madrid, at the Escuela Oficial de Cine de España, and devoted himself to theater, where he carved out an important role in the company of Lilí Murati, a Hungarian actress who was very popular in 1940s Spain.

His film debut took place, however, in 1951, in "The Lioness of Castile". Without ever leaving the theater, even the comic one, he arrived in Italy very soon. We remember him in the peplum "Le schiave di Cartagine" (The Sword and the Cross), by Guido Brigone, and in the comedy "Susanna tutta panna”" by Steno. Frequent were his participation in comic films such as "Femmine tre times", again by Steno, alongside Sylva Koscina and Nino Manfredi, "Totò, Vittorio e la dottoressa" by Camillo Mastrocinque, with Totò and Vittorio De Sica, and "I tromboni di Fra 'Diavolo” by Giorgio Simonelli, with Ugo Tognazzi, Raimondo Vianello, Fernando Sancho and Moira Orfei.

He was appreciated above all in the roles of a tough gentleman and with them he landed in the Spaghetti western. Often under the aliases Jerry Cobb and George Gordon, he starred in numerous films. We remember such as "Lola Colt", "Blood Calls to Blood", "Quinto Fighting Proud", "Massacre at Fort Grant", but above all his performance alongside Giuliano Gemma in "Wanted", by Giorgio Ferroni, where he played Martin Heywood.

Also highly appreciated at home, thanks to his work with directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, José Luis Garci and Carlos Saura, and actors such as Concha Velasco, Imperio Argentina, Sara Montiel, in his life he also distinguished himself as a trade union activist, challenging the Franco regime in first person, with the actors' strike of 1975.

The strike began on February 4 of that year and ended on the 12th, with arrests and clashes. The plaintiffs demanded a reduction in the working day, payment for rehearsals and a weekly day of rest. Cobos was part of the negotiation committee that led the strike, blocking theaters and television stations across the country. Shows and rehearsals were interrupted, at times, out of the blue, to the applause of the audience. Filming and television shooting were also suspended, authors and directors forbade the execution of their works. They joined stage directors, acting schools, voice actors, television characters and many actors ended up fired and jailed. For some of them the accusation turned into that of being members of the Frente Revolucionario Anti Fascista y Patriot or of the ETA. They were all released in exchange for the termination of the strike and the payment of fines.

The strike ended in this way, with a defeat for the actors, but with the demonstration of the existence of a unity among show business professionals which greatly frightened the regime.

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