Ricardo Cortez (born Jacob Kranze or Jacob Krantz; September 19, 1900 – April 28, 1977) was an American actor and film director. He was also credited as Jack Crane early in his acting career.
Jacob Kranze or
September 19, 1900
New York City, U.S.
|Died||April 28, 1977 (aged 76)|
New York City, U.S.
|Resting place||Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York City|
|Other names||Jack Crane|
(m. 1926; died 1931)
Christine Coniff Lee
(m. 1934; div. 1940)
Ricardo Cortez was born Jacob Krantz in New York City to Morris and Sarah (Lefkovitz) Krantz. Along with his brother Stanley Cortez (born Stanislaus Krantz), he was raised in a Jewish family in New York City. (Vienna has been incorrectly cited as his birthplace.)[note 1] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City.
Hollywood executives changed his name from Krantz to Cortez to capitalize on his handsome Latin-like features and the popularity of the silent film era's "Latin lovers" such as Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro and Antonio Moreno. When it began to circulate that Cortez was not actually Latin, the studios attempted to pass him off as French before a final Viennese origin story
Cortez appeared in over 100 films. He began his career playing romantic leads, and when sound cinema arrived, his strong delivery and New York accent made him an ideal heavy. While his main focus was character acting, he occasionally was able to play leading men. He played opposite Joan Crawford in Montana Moon (1930), and was the first actor to portray Sam Spade in the original pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon (1931); the latter film was later overshaded by the 1941 remake with Humphrey Bogart in the lead. He co-starred with Charles Farrell and Bette Davis in The Big Shakedown (1934), and with Al Jolson and Dolores del Río in Wonder Bar (1934). In 1936, Cortez replaced Warren William as Perry Mason in The Case of the Black Cat.
Cortez directed seven films for 20th Century Fox from 1938 through 1940, all of them "program pictures made on a shoestring for the express purpose of filling the bottom half of the mandatory double bill ..." His first film as director was Inside Story, which was assigned to Cortez in the spring of 1938 but was not released until 1939. He also directed Chasing Danger, The Escape (1939), Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939), City of Chance (1940), Free, Blonde and 21 (1940), and Girl in 313 (1940).
Cortez married silent film actress Alma Rubens on February 8, 1926. They had previously married on January 30, but it was invalid due to Rubens' divorce not being finalized. The couple separated in 1930, and she had sued him for divorce when she died of pneumonia on January 21, 1931. Cortez married Christine Conniff Lee on January 8, 1934, but they divorced in 1940.