When Anthony was 11, tragedy struck when his father was killed outside their home by a passing automobile. Anthony vowed to help support his mother, sister and grandmother, so he started skipping school and working at odd jobs — anything he could find, to help the family survive. Before the age of 18, he had worked as a migrant farm worker, a newsboy, preacher, taxi driver, just to name a few. He also made five and ten dollars a fight as a welterweight boxer, but was told by his trainer to quit because he was too kindhearted to become a good boxer.
Anthony entered another contest during his junior year in high school, with an architectural plan for a marketplace and again, he was named a winner — the prize was to study and work with the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright — an encounter which was to change Anthony’s life forever.
Wright taught him that the average man does not know how to live, and that it is the job of the architect to teach, and to build, not to the physical size of the man, but to the size of man’s spirit. He observed Anthony’s shyness and a slight impediment in his speech and recommended correcting it in order to be a more effective architect. He advised him to see a doctor, who then performed a simple tongue-tie surgery called a lingual frenectomy.
Speech therapy was recommended post-surgery, so he sought help from Katherine Hamil, who ran an acting school for young adults in Hollywood. He worked as a janitor to pay for his lessons and when one young actor fell ill, Ms. Hamil asked Anthony to take his part in the school play. He received wonderful reviews and thus began his interest in acting. For several years he acted in small theater productions, then in 1936, got his first non-speaking part in a film called Parole! and a few more small roles quickly followed. Later that year, he was offered a contract to work for Paramount Studios for $75 a week and was conflicted because he had dreamed of becoming an architect. He called his mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright for advice. Wright told him he would be crazy not to take the offer and that there was always time to become an architect later.
After more than sixty years of performing — on stage, for television and films — a career that included the creation of truly classic characters in La Strada, Viva Zapata, Lust for Life, Requiem for a Heavyweight and Zorba the Greek — and as recipient of two Academy Awards and six nominations, international acclaim and respect of his peers and the public, Anthony Quinn will always be remembered as the consummate actor.
Although he had painted and sculpted since the age of six, it was not until the 80’s that Anthony discovered he could have another career as an artist. He had always sculpted small pieces of stone and wood he found while he was working on film locations in the deserts of North Africa and in the Middle East. In the 80’s he began to enlarge these “maquettes” into full-sized sculptures for the sole purpose of adding beauty to his living spaces. To his surprise, people started asking him where they could buy the artwork. He was given a one-man exhibition at a gallery in Honolulu, Hawaii and every piece in the show was sold.
He continued making movies and in his free time would forage among the dunes gathering and saving stones, pieces of rock and scraps of wood. During his time off and between scenes, he would transform the objects – which most people would consider just rocks and stones, into works of art. In everything he saw he found beauty.
Anthony finished his last motion picture, Avenging Angelo, with Sylvester Stallone, in Toronto in May 2001. In June of the same year, he died of respiratory failure at the age of 86. He was survived by his sister Estella, his wife Katherine, their two children together, Antonia and Ryan and ten surviving children from previous relationships.