Gilbert Roland

Gilbert Roland
Los Angeles Times


Gilbert Roland
Film: South side of the 6700 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Luis Antonio Damaso de Alonso on Dec. 11, 1905 in Chihuahua, Mexico
Died May 15, 1994 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Gilbert Roland was a lithe, muscular star whose career spanned seven decades from silents to television and included 11 films as the legendary Cisco Kid.

Assuming the dashing Cisco role from Duncan Renaldo after World War II, Roland starred in half of the 23 sound features about the colorful Mexican Robin Hood.

(The durable Cisco Kid character, taken from a 1904 O. Henry short story titled "The Caballero's Way," was also played through silents, talkies, radio and television by Warner Baxter, Cesar Romero, Renaldo and, much later, by Jimmy Smits.)

Known for his affability, Roland was never agreeable about racial prejudice.

"My Cisco Kid might have been a bandit, but he fought for the poor and was a civilized man in the true sense of the word," he said.

Referring to the time he added a scene showing Cisco reading Shakespeare, Roland told The Times: "I wanted to be sure the Mexicano was not portrayed as an unwashed, uneducated, savage clown."

Roland made more than 100 films in roles ranging from shady saloon characters to romantic leads to the heroic Cisco.

He served in Air Force intelligence during World War II, and after the war became the Cisco Kid of B movies.

Director John Huston cast him in 1949 in "When We Were Strangers," and after that, offers came more frequently. He starred in "The Furies" in 1950. Then in 1951, he was cast in "The Bullfighter and the Lady," which proved his most memorable role.

He worked often in the next 30 years portraying peasants, ranchers, bandits, adventurers and circus performers. He also married for the second time, in 1951, to Guillermina Cantu of Mexico City.

His last movie appearance was in "Barbarosa" in 1982.

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