Ricardo Cortez (Jacob Krantz)

Ricardo Cortez

Born to a Jewish family in New York City (Vienna has been incorrectly cited as his birthplace), Ricardo Cortez was an amateur boxer and worked on Wall Street prior to entering the film business. Hollywood executives changed his name from Krantz to Cortez in order to capitalize on the popularity of the era’s “Latin lovers” (namely Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro and Antonio Moreno). When rumor began to circulate that Cortez was not actually Spanish, the studios attempted to pass him off as French before finally “admitting” to his supposedly Viennese origin. Cortez appeared in over 100 films. Having begun his career playing romantic leads, when sound cinema arrived, his strong delivery and New York accent made him an ideal heavy. Though he would go on to occasionally portray leading men, Ricardo Cortez’s main focus became character acting. He played opposite Joan Crawford in Montana Moon (1930), played Sam Spade in the original, pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon (1931), co-starred with Charles Farrell and Bette Davis in The Big Shakedown, 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 was married to silent film actress Alma Rubens until her death from pneumonia in 1931. When he retired from the film business, Cortez returned to New York, working as a stockbroker for Salomon Brothers on Wall Street. He died in New York City in 1977, and was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx. Cortez was the older brother of noted cinematographer Stanley Cortez (born Stanislaus Krantz). Cortez is not related to noted six-time U.C.W.D.C world champion dancer and choreographer Ricardo D. Cortez.

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  • September, 19, 1900
  • USA
  • New York, New York


  • April, 28, 1977
  • USA
  • New York, New York


  • Woodlawn Cemetery
  • Bronx, New York
  • USA

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