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Original at The Independent

Anthony Quinn, the Hollywood great who 'never got the girl', dies aged 86
By Paul Peachey
04 June 2001

Anthony Quinn, the actor whose title role in Zorba the Greek cemented his place as one of the greats in the golden era of Hollywood, died yesterday in a Massachusetts hospital of respiratory failure. He was 86.

In a career lasting more than 50 years and featuring more than 100 films, Quinn won two Oscars for best supporting actor in Viva Zapata! and Lust for Life. Although he was normally cast as a dynamic character actor, he was best known for his Oscar-nominated role as Zorba, a Greek peasant, in the 1964 film. It was his favourite role.

Quinn was born to a half-Irish father and a Mexican mother in Mexico and brought up in poverty in Los Angeles, working as a shoeshine boy and selling newspapers. As a teenager, he underwent minor tongue surgery to improve his speech and later took voice lessons at a city drama school, paying the fees by cleaning windows and floors.

He began appearing in stage productions at 18 and Mae West gave Quinn his first big chance on stage in the play Clean Beds, which she produced.

His first screen role, a 45- second appearance, came in the film Parole in 1936 but he later went on to appear in movies such as La Strada (1954), Guns of Navarone (1961) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). a pope, a boxer and an artist. He portrayed characters ranging from kings to Indians, including a pope, a boxer and an artist. "I never get the girl, I wind up with a country instead," he once said.

Quinn played a number of notable historical figures and he won his first Oscar as the brother of the Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata, in the 1952 film Viva Zapata!

A real-life artist, sculptor and author, his role as Paul Gauguin in the 1956 film Lust for Life earned him his second Oscar. As leading roles became less frequent, he left Hollywood to live and work in Italy.

His personal life was as tempestuous as his professional life was celebrated. He had 13 children and married three times.

Kathryn Turner, a producer who made a documentary of his life, said: "He was a very gifted man, a unique personality."

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