The 2010-11 TV season premiered a sci-fi show, The Event. One member of the cast fascinated me. A Latino? Could it be? I Googled cast names, and there it was Clifton Collins Jr., no, not Latino I guess. Months later there he is again in Brothers, barely recognizable; a testament to his talent perhaps? Google again, and there it is…he’s part Mexican. A Latino actor who’s managed to escape being typecast. It would be easy to to assume it’s because of his name, and perhaps it is, but the story is not that simple. He has roots, his name notwithstanding, his is a proud Latino. The grandson of Mexican-American actor, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez.
Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez was a Latino pioneer in Hollywood. Upon Pedro’s death in 2006, actor Edwards James Olmos said, “…he inspired every Latino actor.” A statement that seems to contradict the actor’s career as he was often seen as perpetuating negative stereotypes of Latino men.
The career that spanned decades began when John Wayne cast him as comic relief in several movies, including Rio Bravo, after seeing his brand of humor during an appearance in Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life.
Whether you see Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez as a pioneer or something else, there’s no denying that he was a talented comic who knew how to poke fun at himself to entertain an audience. And maybe, like actor Cheech Marin, another Latino child watching TV or even movies said to him or herself, “You can be Mexican, AND you can be on TV!”
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the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.