Julian Rivero (July 25, 1890 – February 24, 1976) was an American actor whose career spanned seven decades. He made his film debut in the 1923 silent melodrama, The Bright Shawl, which starred Richard Barthelmess, Dorothy Gish, William Powell, Mary Astor, and Edward G. Robinson.
Over the next 50 years, Rivero would appear in well over 200 films and television shows.
He only made a handful of appearances in silent films. With the advent of sound films, he would appear in both English language films, as well as the Spanish language versions of English films, such as Así es la vida, which was Spanish version of the 1930 film, What a Man.
Born on July 25, 1890, in San Francisco, California, Rivero did not enter the film industry until he was in his 30s. Before making his start in films, Rivero studied to become a Shakespearean actor with the famous stage actor Robert B. Mantell.
His first appearance was in a small role in the 1923 film, The Bright Shawl, which was produced by Inspiration Pictures, and east coast film company, and was shot in Cuba. His first featured role was in the 1921 western, Fast and Fearless, which starred Jay Wilsey (known by his stage name as “Buffalo Bill, Jr.”) and Jean Arthur. He entered sound films in 1930 in the Spanish language films Así es la vida and El presidio (the Spanish version of The Big House.
During the early 1930s, while Hollywood was still making versions of films in different languages, Rivero continued to be cast in Spanish language films, his final one being 1934’s Nada más que una mujer, the Spanish version of Pursued. His first sound film in English was God’s Country and the Man (1931), written and directed by J.P. McCarthy. During the 1930s and 1940s many of his roles were in westerns. Some of his more notable films during those decades include: the 1932 drama, Winner Take All, starring James Cagney; a small role in the 1935 biopic Diamond Jim, starring Edward Arnold and Jean Arthur; the role of Santa Anna in the 1937 historical drama Heroes of the Alamo; he had a small role in Betty Grable’s first starring vehicle, Down Argentine Way (1940); he appeared in the bullfighting film football clubs shirts, Blood and Sand (1941), starring Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell; he had another small role in the 1942 remake of Rio Rita, starring Abbott and Costello; he played one of the Spanish officials in the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn comedic film, Woman of the Year (1942); he played a monk in The Song of Bernadette, starring Jennifer Jones; he played a waiter in the final Laurel and Hardy film, The Bullfighters (1945); he played a government clerk in Anna and the King of Siam, starring Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison; as a manservant in the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby road picture, Road to Rio (1947); and the barber in John Huston’s classic western, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).
In the 1950s, he continued appearing in small roles in films, as well as acting in numerous television programs. His appearances in more notable films during that decade include: Broken Arrow (1950), starring James Stewart and Jeff Chandler; the Humphrey Bogart film noir, Sirocco (1951); Elia Kazan’s classic East of Eden (1955), starring James Dean, Julie Harris and Jo Van Fleet; Giant (1956), James Dean’s final film, also starring Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor; the 1957 comedy Don’t Go Near the Water, starring Glenn Ford, in which Rivero had a featured role; and Houseboat, a romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren.
Rivero began appearing in television shows during the 1950s. His many roles during the decade include guest appearances on The Adventures of Kit Carson, Adventures of Superman, The Lone Ranger, Broken Arrow, and Rawhide. Rivero took a break from acting from 1960 through 1964, returning to his career in 1965. During the remainder of the 1960s and into the 1970s, Rivero worked almost exclusively on the small screen. His only appearance on the big screen during his final years was in the 1965 western, The Reward. He continued to be quite active in television, appearing on The Fugitive, I Spy, Family Affair, The Flying Nun, Mannix, and Medical Center pill shaver. His final performance would be as “Gitano” in the 1973 television movie, The Red Pony, starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.
Rivero died on February 24, 1976 in Hollywood, California, aged 85. He was buried next to his wife, Isobel, in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery, located in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. Isobel had been a Bathing Beauty for Mack Sennett prior to her marriage to Rivero.
(Per AFI database)