Iron Eyes Cody (Iron Eyes Cody)

Iron Eyes Cody

Actor. Born Espera Oscar DeCorti in Kaplan, Louisiana, the second child of Italian immigrants Antonio DeCorti and Francesca Salpietra. DeCorti Senior abandoned the family in 1909, and ten years later his three sons followed him to Texas where they adopted his altered surname of Corti. In 1924, the brothers moved to Hollywood, and changed their name once again, from Corti to Cody, and began working as movie extras. It was the first time Cody presented himself as of Cherokee/Cree ancestry. He made his uncredited film debut in 1930’s ‘The Big Trail’ and remained without credit as a film extra for another ten years. He married Bertha Parker, a Cherokee, in 1936, and wholeheartedly adopted her culture and ancestry. Together they adopted three Maricopa children. His first screen credit was as Black Eagle in 1941’s ‘Saddlemates,” followed by the credited role of Chief Iron Eyes in ‘The Paleface’ in 1948. He was first billed as Iron Eyes in 1951’s ‘Fort Defiance.’  Over all he appeared in over 150 films, often uncredited, and as a guest in numerous television shoes such as ‘Bonanza,’ ‘How the West Was Won,’ ‘The Quest,’ ‘Fantasy Island,’ and ‘The A-Team.’  He is perhaps best remembered as the iconic weeping Indian of the ‘Keep America Beautiful’ ad campaign that ran from 1971 through 1980. His last film appearance was in ‘Ernest Goes to Camp’ in 1987. In 1996, Cody’s half sister exposed his past in a New Orleans newspaper interview, which reported that he was Italian ancestry, Cody denied the report.  He was completely dedicated to his adopted culture; he maintained his fictional roots faithfully throughout his life and denied all rumors that he was not an American Indian. Hollywood’s Indian community honored Cody for his longstanding contribution to native causes. Although he was not Cherokee, they acknowledged that his charitable deeds were more important than his heritage.  He succumbed to a stroke at the age of 94 and was interred beside his wife in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. (bio by: Iola)  Family links:  Parents:  Tony Corti (1879 – 1924)  Francesca Salpietra Abshire (1888 – 1941)  Spouse:  Bertha Alden Parker Cody (1907 – 1978)* *Calculated relationship


  • April, 03, 1904
  • USA


  • January, 01, 1999
  • USA


  • Hollywood Forever Cemetery
  • California
  • USA

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