Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cesar Romero, 86; Acted in Movies, as Joker on TV

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cesar Romero, 86; Acted in Movies, as Joker on TV

Article excerpt

Cesar Romero, the tall, suave actor who capped a long film career with a popular television role as The Joker on "Batman" in the 1960s, has died at age 86.

Mr. Romero died Saturday (Jan. 1, 1994) at St. John's Hospital and Health Center. Gary Miereanu, a hospital spokesman, said death resulted from complications related to a blood clot after Mr. Romero was hospitalized with severe bronchitis and pneumonia.

He was often cast as a gigolo or the other man in his movies. "When I started in motion pictures in 1934, they said I was going to be the next Valentino," he recalled in 1984. "I was never a leading man, and very seldom did I do a picture where I got the girl. But I was saddled with the label because I had a Latin name. My background is Cuban, but I'm from New York City. I'm a Latin from Manhattan."

With his handsome looks and sturdy build, Mr. Romero proved a reliable actor in musicals, comedies, dramas and Westerns. He made his biggest impact with the public as the evil, pun-cracking Joker in the faddish "Batman" series of 1966-68.

He remained active into the '90s, turning up in television movies. An indefatigable partygoer, he was a familiar figure at Hollywood events. He marked his 80th birthday as Jane Wyman's husband in the long-running TV series "Falcon Crest."

He was born into a distinguished Cuban family in New York City on Feb. 15, 1907. "My grandfather, Jose Marti, was the liberator of Cuba," he said in 1984. "The Cuban war of independence was planned in my grandfather's house."

The yen to act came when Mr. Romero played four roles in "The Merchant of Venice" at boarding school. His father, who had lost a fortune in the collapse of the sugar market, found him a job in a Wall Street bank. His size and looks made him popular at debutante parties, and an heiress suggested that they form a dance team.

"I was a helluva good dancer, and I always was stagestruck, anyway," he said in a 1984 interview. "It was the only way I knew how to get into show business. …

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