Anthony Quinn Dead at 86

Anthony Quinn, a two-time Academy Award winner perhaps best known for starring as Zorba the Greek, has died at age 86.

Quinn died around 9:30 a.m. today at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a spokeswoman at the hospital told the Reuters news service. She declined to give further information.

Quinn owned a home in Bristol, R.I., and was a friend of Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, who said today Quinn will be deeply missed for his community work and his talent.

"Anyone who had any reverence or respect for a true artist will miss him," Cianci said. "He was a modern day Renaissance man with an intelligence and insight that brought heightened clarity to each moment spent with him."

Long, Diverse Career

Quinn appeared in more than a hundred feature films in a film career that stretched back to the mid-1930s, including Lawrence of Arabia, Requiem for a Heavyweight, and, more recently, A Walk in the Clouds with Keanu Reeves in 1995.

"I can't retire," he told ABC's Bill Diehl in September. "I mean, I started working when I was a year and a half old, and I worked all my life."

He won Best Supporting Actor Academy Awards for 1952's Viva Zapata!, and for playing painter Paul Gaughin in 1956's Lust for Life.

However, to many, he is most identified with the title role in 1964's Zorba the Greek, for which he received a Best Actor Academy Award nomination. He also received a Best Actor nomination for 1957's Wild Is the Wind.

The actor also garnered acclaim for his sculptures and paintings, and for his work on television and the stage. He received a Tony nomination for Beckett in 1960, and starred in stage productions of Zorba!

He lived a colorful life, fathering 13 children with five women.

"His life was one filled with all the passion that so defined him, that fired his incredible artistic range," Cianci said. "Many people respect him and know him for his acting ability, his talent. But many others admire him for his painting and sculpting ability. He's a great sculptor and a great painter."

From Mexico to Stardom

Anthony Rudolph Oaxaca Quinn was born April 21, 1915, in Chihuahua, Mexico, of Mexican and Irish heritage, and his family crossed the border with him into the United States when he was a child. He became a U.S. citizen in 1947.

"My mother and father were both young kids fighting in the revolution, and we always lived a Mexican life, even when we moved to Texas," he told The New York Times in an interview published last September, on the occasion of his winning the Hispanic Heritage Award.

"But to be Mexicans with the name of Quinn, that was not a nice thing to do," he added. "If your name isn't Gonzalez or Montoya or whatever, they just don't acknowledge you as a Mexican."

Quinn was raised in poverty in East Los Angeles. Before winning fame as an actor, he worked as a shoeshine boy, as a boxer and in a mattress factory; he studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright; and he played saxophone in the orchestra of the evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.

Quinn's diverse heritage and background, and his ethnic appearance, would lead to his playing characters of a wide variety of nationalities. He played a Greek in Zorba, an Arab in Lawrence of Arabia, a Mexican in A Walk in the Clouds an Italian in 1954's La Strada, and an Eskimo in 1959's The Savage Innocents. His other roles included Russians, American Indians and various Asian nationalities.

"One of the reasons I did all the Greeks and Arab parts I did was because I was trying to identify myself as a man of the world," he told The Times. "I lived in Greece, in France, Iran and all over the world, Spain, trying to find a niche where I would finally be accepted."

ABCNEWS Radio contributed to this report.

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