Actor Henry Silva dies at 95

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Actor Henry Silva dies at 95

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Silva, who was often cast as a villain, starred as Chunjin in one of his most memorable roles "The Manchurian Candidate" in 1962.

Actor Henry Silva dies at 95

By Variety

September 17, 2022

Henry Silva, an actor with a striking look who often played villains and had credits in hundreds of films including “Ocean’s Eleven” and “The Manchurian Candidate,” died of natural causes Wednesday at the Motion Picture Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif., his son Scott confirmed. He was 95.

One of Silva’s most memorable roles came in John Frankenheimer’s classic thriller “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962), in which he played Chunjin, the Korean houseboy for Laurence Harvey’s Raymond Shaw — and an agent for the Communists — who engages in a thrilling, well-choreographed martial arts battle with Frank Sinatra’s Major Bennett Marco in Shaw’s New York apartment.

Silva appeared in a number of other movies with Sinatra, including the original, Rat Pack-populated “Ocean’s Eleven” (1960) with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., where he was one of the 11 thieves, and 1962 Western “Sergeants 3.”

His death was first reported by Dean Martin’s daughter Deana Martin, who wrote on Twitter, “Our hearts are broken at the loss of our dear friend Henry Silva, one of the nicest, kindest and most talented men I’ve had the pleasure of calling my friend. He was the last surviving star of the original Oceans 11 Movie. We love you Henry, you will be missed.”

In later years, he appeared in Burt Reynolds vehicle “Sharky’s Machine” (1981), the Chuck Norris movie “Code of Silence” (1985), Steven Seagal movie “Above the Law” (1988), Warren Beatty’s “Dick Tracy” (1990) and Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” (1999); Silva’s final screen appearance was a cameo in the “Ocean’s Eleven” remake in 2001.

A 1985 article by Knight-Ridder journalist Diane Haithman headlined “Henry Silva: The Actor You Love to Hate” began this way: “His face looms on screen. A face with sharp, high cheekbones and a blunt, tiny nose, a face that looks like it was cut out of steel and always is behind a gun. And eyes that see only the next victim. Cold eyes. The eyes of a psychopath. He doesn’t have to say a thing before you know you hate him. … Silva has made a lifelong career with that face (which, by the way, looks fatherly off-camera).”

Silva told Haithman that growing up in Spanish Harlem helped prepare him for the kinds of roles he would later play in movies. “ ‘I saw a lot of things in Harlem,’ he recalled in an accent rich with his New York origins. ‘It was the kind of place where if you lived on one block and you wanted to go a few blocks away, you had to take a couple of guys with you, or else you would get your ass kicked.’ “

Speaking of his career, the actor told the journalist, ” ‘I think the reason that I haven’t disappeared (as a popular “heavy”) is that the heavies I play are all leaders. I never play a wishy-washy anything. They’re interesting roles, because when you leave the theater, you remember these kinds of guys.’ ”

Silva first made an impression as the henchman to Richard Boone’s villain in Budd Boetticher’s 1957 Western “The Tall T,” starring Randolph Scott. He also appeared in Westerns including “The Law and Jake Wade” (he played Rennie, one of the Confederate ruffians led by Richard Widmark) and “The Bravados.”

In Fred Zinnemann’s “A Hatful of Rain” (1957), starring Don Murray and Eva Marie Saint, he played Mother, the supplier to Murray’s piteous morphine addict; Silva had created the role of Mother in 1955-56 in the original Broadway production of the play upon which the movie was based in which Ben Gazzara and Shelley Winters starred.

In Audrey Hepburn-Anthony Perkins vehicle “Greens Mansions” (1959), he played the evil son of the chief of a primitive tribe in the Venezuelan jungle; he also played a Native American in “Five Savage Men” (1970) and “Sergeants 3” (1962). ... -rcna48189

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