Henry Silva

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database



Henry Silva (September 15, 1928 - September 14, 2022) [1] was an American film and television actor. Silva was born in Brooklyn, New York and was of Sicilian and Spanish descent.[2][3]

He grew up in Harlem and quit school when he was 13 years old to attend drama classes, supporting himself as a dishwasher and waiter in a Manhattan hotel. By 1955, Silva felt ready to audition for the Actors Studio. He was one of five students chosen out of more than 2,500 applicants. When the Studio staged Michael V. Gazzo's play, A Hatful of Rain as a classroom project, it proved so successful that it was presented on Broadway, with students Ben Gazzara, Shelley Winters, Harry Guardino, Tony Franciosa, and Silva in key roles. Silva also appeared in the play's film version.

In Hollywood, he played a succession of villains in films including The Tall T, The Bravados, Green Mansions, Johnny Cool, and the original The Manchurian Candidate. He was one of the 11 casino robbers in the 1960 Rat Pack caper film Ocean's 11.

He had a comic role as one of the stepbrothers in the 1960 Jerry Lewis film Cinderfella, a parody of Cinderella with Lewis in the title role, and appeared in starring roles in two filmed episodes of The Outer Limits, a science-fiction anthology television series in the United States.

He sometimes played heavies on television, i.e. as a hit man in the episode "Better Bargain" on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Other television roles included an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery and the episode "The Enemies" from the first season of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

In 1965 an Italian film producer made Silva an offer to star as a hero for a change and he moved his family overseas. Silva's turning-point picture was a spaghetti western, The Hills Run Red, which made him a hot box-office commodity in Spain, Italy, Germany, and France. Between 1966 and 1977 he starred or co-starred in at least 25 movies including several polizios including Wipeout! and La Mala Ordina.

Returning to the United States in the mid 1970s, he co-starred with Frank Sinatra in Contract on Cherry Street, then signed on as Buck Rogers' evil adversary Killer Kane. In the 1980s and 1990s, he appeared as a drug-addicted hitman in Burt Reynolds' Sharky's Machine, the villainous CIA agent Kurt Zagon in Steven Seagal's debut, Above the Law; as a sinister mob hitman in Dick Tracy; as the voice of the supervillain Bane in Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures; and as the sorrowful and doomed crime boss Ray Vargo in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. He also played the 'heavy' in Chuck Norris' movie Code of Silence.


  • 1. ^ Ethnicities Obscured, Celebrated Los Angeles Times, October 04, 2000
  • 2. ^ DVD commentary for The Return of Mr. Moto, Mr. Moto Collection - Vol. 2, 20th Century Fox, 2007-02-13
  • 3. ^ Note: Reliable sources state Silva is of Puerto Rican descent. But Silva states he is of Spanish-Sicilian heritage and specifically denies any Puerto Rican heritage in the DVD commentary for The Return of Mr. Moto.

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