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Richard Conte

American actor
The basics
About
Occupation Film director Stage actor Film actor Television actor
Country United States of America
Date of birth Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Date of death Apr 15, 1975 Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A.
Authority IMDB id NNDB id ISNI id VIAF id Library of congress id
The details
Biography

Richard Conte (born Nicholas Peter Conte; March 24, 1910 – April 15, 1975) was an American actor. He appeared in more than 100 films from the 1940s through 1970s, including I'll Cry Tomorrow, Ocean's 11, and The Godfather.

Early years

Richard Conte was born Nicholas Peter Conte on March 24, 1910, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Italian-Americans Julia (Fina), a seamstress, and Pasquale Conte, a barber. He graduated from William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City.

Conte worked as a truck driver, messenger, shoe salesman and a singing waiter before starting his acting career. He was discovered by actors Elia Kazan and John Garfield during his job at a Connecticut resort, which led to Conte finding stage work. He eventually earned a scholarship to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where he became a standout actor.

Stage

He made his Broadway debut late in Moon Over Mulberry Street in 1939, and went on to be featured in other plays, including Night Music and Walk Into My Parlor.

Film

Conte has been described as "a key actor in noir films ... invaluable because he could play tough heroes ... as well as conniving villains ...." His first film performance was in 1939, Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence, in which he was billed as Nicholas Conte. His career started to thrive during the Second World War. In 1942, Conte signed a long-term contract with 20th Century Fox. He then changed his name to Richard Conte. His first Fox film was Guadalcanal Diary (1943). During the World War II years, Conte played mostly soldiers in war dramas, including The Purple Heart (1944) and A Walk in the Sun (1945).

Conte appeared in many films noir after World War II. Conte appeared in the espionage movie 13 Rue Madeleine (1947) and in such Fox crime dramas as Cry of the City and Call Northside 777 (both from 1948) and Thieves' Highway (1949). Conte appeared in Otto Preminger's classic film noir Whirlpool (1949) co-starring Gene Tierney. He also starred with Susan Hayward along with Edward G. Robinson and Luther Adler in House of Strangers (1949) as Max Monetti, a lawyer who defends his father (Robinson) against government charges of banking irregularities and goes to prison for jury tampering.

In the early-1950s, Conte, now not working for Fox, began appearing in films for various studios. Critics and fans consider his best films from that era include the film noir B-movies The Sleeping City (1950), Under the Gun (1951), Hollywood Story (1951), The Raging Tide (1951), The Blue Gardenia (1953), Highway Dragnet (1954), The Big Combo (1955), New York Confidential (1955), and The Brothers Rico (1957). He also was featured in a leading role opposite Susan Hayward in the 1955 film production I'll Cry Tomorrow, a biopic about singer/actress Lillian Roth.

Military service

Conte served in the United States Army but was discharged because of eye trouble.

Television

In 1959, Conte starred in The Twilight Zone episode Perchance to Dream. He appeared as one of The Four Just Men (1959) in the Sapphire Films TV series for ITV. He appeared on American TV shows "throughout the late 1950s and much of the 1960s." He guest-starred on the ABC 1962-1963 drama series, Going My Way, and in the ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show. He and Anne Francis guest-starred together in the episode "Hideout" of CBS's short-lived drama series, The Reporter, starring Harry Guardino in the title role as New York City journalist Danny Taylor, with Gary Merrill as city editor Lou Sheldon. In 1966, Conte landed a supporting role in the short-lived CBS sitcom, The Jean Arthur Show.

Later years

Once film noir became less popular in the 1960s Conte’s career was at a standstill. He appeared as Lieutenant Dave Santini in two Frank Sinatra crime films, Tony Rome (1967) and Lady in Cement (1968). He had also appeared with Sinatra in the 1960 film Ocean's 11 and the 1966 picture Assault on a Queen.

Conte eventually moved to Europe and acted in a number of films. Later in life, Conte acted one of his most memorable performances in The Godfather (1972) as Don Barzini. He was at one time also considered for the title role, Don Vito Corleone, a role which Marlon Brando eventually filled.

He continued to work in European films until his death. His most notable of over sixty films include The Godfather (1972), Ocean's 11 (1960), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), and Call Northside 777 (1948).

Family

Conte was married to actress Ruth Storey, with whom he adopted a son, film editor Mark Conte. They divorced in 1963. He married his second wife, Shirlee Garner, in 1973; they remained married until Conte's death. His grandson is National Football League free safety Chris Conte. Chris is the son of Mark Conte.

Death

He died April 15, 1975 of a heart attack followed by a stroke. He is buried in the Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.

Awards

Year Group Award Result Film/Show
1960 Golden Laurel Top Action Performance Nominated They Came to Cordura (1959)

Selected filmography

  • Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939) as Tony
  • Guadalcanal Diary (1943) as Capt. Davis
  • The Purple Heart (1944) as Lt. Angelo Canelli
  • Captain Eddie (1945) as Pvt. John Bartek
  • A Bell for Adano (1945) as Nicolo (Italian POW)
  • The Spider (1945) as Chris Conlon
  • A Walk in the Sun (1945) as Pvt. Rivera
  • 13 Rue Madeleine (1946) as Bill O'Connell
  • Somewhere in the Night (1946) as Mel Phillips
  • The Other Love (1947) as Paul Clermont
  • Call Northside 777 (1948) as Frank W. Wiecek
  • Cry of the City (1948) as Martin Rome
  • Big Jack (1949) as Dr. Alexander Meade
  • House of Strangers (1949) as Max Monetti
  • Thieves' Highway (1949) as Nick Garcos
  • Whirlpool (1949) as Dr. William 'Bill' Sutton
  • The Sleeping City (1950) as Fred Rowan,aka Fred Gilbert
  • Under the Gun (1951) as Bert Galvin
  • Hollywood Story (1951) as Larry O'Brien
  • The Raging Tide (1951) as Bruno Felkin
  • The Fighter (1952) as Felipe Rivera
  • Riders of Vengeance (1952) as Jan Morrell
  • The Blue Gardenia (1953) as Casey Mayo
  • Desert Legion (1953) as Crito Damou / Omar Ben Khalif
  • Slaves of Babylon (1953) as Nahum
  • Highway Dragnet (1954) as Jim Henry
  • Mask of Dust (1954) as Peter Wells
  • The Big Combo (1955) as Mr. Brown
  • New York Confidential (1955) as Nick Magellan
  • The Big Tip Off (1955) as Johnny Denton
  • Little Red Monkey (1955) as Bill Locklin
  • Bengazi (1955) as John Gillmore
  • Target Zero (1955) as Lt. Tom Flagler
  • I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) as Tony Bardeman
  • Full of Life (1956) as Nick Rocco
  • The Brothers Rico (1957) as Eddie Rico
  • This Angry Age (1957) as Michael
  • The Untouchables (1959-Season 2 Episode15) as Ira Bauer / Arnie Seeger
  • They Came to Cordura (1959) as Cpl. Milo Trubee
  • Ocean's 11 (1960) as Anthony Bergdorf
  • Pepe (1960) as Richard Conte
  • Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963) as Leonard Ashley
  • The Eyes of Annie Jones (1964) as David Wheeler
  • Circus World (1964) as Aldo Alfredo
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) as Barabbas
  • Synanon (1965) as Reid Kimble
  • Extraña invasión (1965)
  • Assault on a Queen (1966) as Tony Moreno
  • Hotel (1967) as Detective Dupere
  • Tony Rome (1967) as Lt. Dave Santini
  • Death Sentence (1968) as Diaz
  • Operation Cross Eagles (1968) as Lt. Bradford
  • Lady in Cement (1968) as Lt. Dave Santini
  • Explosion (1969) as Dr. Philip Neal
  • Piazza pulita (1972)
  • The Godfather (1972) as Don Emilio Barzini
  • Il Boss (1973) as Don Corrasco
  • The Big Family (1973) as Don Antonio Marchesi
  • My Brother Anastasia (1973) as Alberto 'Big Al' Anastasia
  • The Violent Professionals (1973) as Padulo
  • Tony Arzenta / Big Guns (1973) as Nick Gusto
  • Anna, quel particolare piacere (1973) as Riccardo Sogliani
  • Shoot First, Die Later (1974) as Mazzanti
  • Evil Eye (1975) as Dr. Stone
  • La encadenada (1975) as Alexander
  • Violent Rome (1975) as Lawyer Sartori
  • Un urlo dalle tenebre (1975) as Exorcist

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1946 Readers' Digest Radio Edition Our Lady's Juggler
1953 Hollywood Star Playhouse Blackout
The contents of this page are sourced from a Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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