Death of Henry Silva, mouth of American cinema – Actus Ciné

Actor Henry Silva, who appeared in “Ocean’s Eleven” and “A crime in the head”, died on Wednesday September 14 at the age of 95.

Death of Henry Silva mouth of American cinema Actus
Elephant Classics Films / Cineproduzioni Daunia 70

It was a day before his birthday that Henry Silva passed away at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif., as confirmed by his son Scott. Died of natural causes, he was 95 years old.

Recognized for his many villainous roles, the prolific comedian has appeared in a whole string of productions. Headliner of The Sicilian’s revenge (1963) as Johnny Cool, he notably starred in A crime in the head (1962) by John Frankenheimernext to Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leighor in Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – his last film appearance in 2001.


Born in Brooklyn in 1929 to Sicilian and Spanish parents, Henry Silva decided at the age of 13 to drop out of school to dedicate himself to the theater by taking drama lessons while washing dishes in a hotel in New York in parallel. In 1952, he made his first uncredited film appearance in the film Long live Zapata! ofElia Kazannext to Marlon Brando.

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20th Century Fox

Henry Silva and Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata! (1952)

In 1955, having become a waiter, Henry Silva decided to audition to join the Actor Studio. He passed the competition with four other suitors selected from 2,500 candidates. His career began on Broadway when the Studio offered him to play on stage in the play A Hatful of Rain of Michael V. Gazzoalong with colleagues such as Ben Gazzara, Shelley Winters, Harry Guardino and Anthony Franciosa.


Spotted by Hollywood, Henry Silva quickly began his film career by appearing in various films such as The Bravados of Henry King, green mansions of Mel Ferrer. But it was above all in 1963, with his role as Johnny Cool in The Sicilian’s revenge of William Ashernext to Sammy Davis Jr. and Elizabeth Montgomerythat he will impose himself on the screens and refine his character as a cold and cruel killer.

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United Artists

Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery in “Revenge of the Sicilian” (1963)

He is then often confined to the roles of bandits and villains. But when an Italian producer offers him to play a hero in the spaghetti western Blood on the mountain in 1966, he accepted without hesitation. Fate will prove him right since the film was a success at the Spanish, Italian, German and French box office.


For Henry Silva then begins an important European career: he goes into exile in Italy to chain commercial films. It was during this period that he would meet Fernando Di Leo which will employ him essentially in several mafia roles, in particular in The boss in 1973.

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Elephant Classics Movies

Henry Silva in “The Boss” (1973)

He then returned to the United States in the 80s and accumulated genre and B series films while continuing to play in international productions.


During the following decade, in order to pay homage to him, new authors will offer him roles of crooks in films like Dick Tracy of Warren Beatty, The End of Violence of Wim Wenders and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai of Jim Jarmusch.

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Cliff Gorman and Henry Silva (right) in “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” (1999)

Her last appearance was in the film Ocean’s Eleven by Steven Soderbergh where he played his own role. With more than 140 credits to his credit, the actor has therefore made his mark on the world of cinema.

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