Tomas Milian, the Cuban-American-Italian actor best known for his work in Italian genre films and Spaghetti Westerns, has died at the age of 84. Italian news agency ANSA reported that he died of a stroke in his Miami home on Wednesday.
Milian, whose real name was Tomas Quintin Rodriguez Milian, worked with a host of top-notch directors such as Steven Soderbergh, Bernardo Bertolucci and Steven Spielberg, and was recognized for the emotional intensity and humor he brought to his roles.
He was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1933 to a Cuban general who was arrested and jailed during the Cuban revolution. After this, Milian moved to New York City where he was a student of Polish-American actor Lee Strasberg. He studied method acting at NYC’s Actors Studio before moving to Italy, where he was cast in a host of supporting roles throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, including Carol Reed’s The Agony and the Ecstasy.
Most of his pics were shot in Italy and he paired with Italian helmers such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Bertolucci. He had great success in Spaghetti Western pics where he soon established himself as a dynamic leading actor in pics such as The Big Gundown, The Ugly Ones, Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot, Death Sentence and Tepepa with Orson Welles.
Following a decline in popularity of the genre, Milian turned to Italian’s increasingly popular violent police movies, also known as “poliziottesco” films. He appeared in films such as Umberto Lenzi’s Free Hand for a Tough Cop.
More recently, the Italian actor had roles in Soderberg’s Traffic as the corrupt General Arturo Salazar and Spielberg’s Amistad.
He is survived by his son Tomaso Milian Jr.