Tony Martinez
Date of Birth
Jan 27, 1920
Birth Place:
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Biography

One of the earliest Latino actors to establish a television presence in the 1950s, bandleader-turned-actor Tony Martinez gained a loyal fan base for his role on the popular small-screen series The Real McCoys before taking to the stage for the role of Sancho Panza in a staggering 2,245 productions of The Man of La Mancha. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in January 1920, Martinez was a music scholar in his native city before relocating to New York to continue his studies at Juilliard. The founder of Tony Martinez and His Mambo-USA in the 1940s, the extremely talented musician was versed in five instruments as well as vocals, though it was in film and television that Martinez would find popularity. After studying acting at the Pasadena Playhouse, he went on to appear with his band in the musical Rock Around the Clock (1956). Approached by television writer/producers Irving and Norman Pincus while playing with his band on the Sunset Strip, Martinez was offered the role of Pepino Garcia when the series debuted in 1957. The role served as a milestone in the representation of minorities on television, and Martinez would subsequently write for numerous Mexican films of the 1970s in addition to serving as executive director of Puerto Rico's Artists Variety Co. (an organization dedicated to helping citizens break into the entertainment industry) as well as executive director of Puerto Rico's Institute of Motion Pictures in the early '80s. Married to wife Myra in 1981, the couple would remain together until Martinez's death in September 2002. He was 82. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Provided by Rovi