Henry Silva, classic 80’s action movie baddie, dies at 95

Henry Silva

Henry Silva, who gave memorable turns over the course of a 40+-year career as a distinct presence on the big screen, has died. He was 95.

A genuinely commanding and terrifying presence, Henry Silva’s extensive career put him in numerous roles in action flicks, thrillers and exploitation movies. An early turn in The Tall T marked him as a face to watch–and be frightened of. A series of westerns and adventurers led to him being cast as one of Danny Ocean’s 11. In a fitting close to his career, Henry Silva made a cameo in Steven Soderbergh’s remake.

Other key roles in Henry Silva’s career include those in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Johnny Cool (1963), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), Sharky’s Machine (1981), and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (2000), which is easily one of his finest performances.

There, too, was the barrage of Italian crime movies that gave him an expanded audience and made him a cult movie favorite, with Il Boss and Escape from the Bronx having strong followings. He once remarked, “Funny thing…over here they see me as a bad guy; in Europe, they see me as a hero.” He also popped up in Dick Tracy, although we’re not sure he actually needed the makeup.

Henry Silva’s distinct cheekbones and slender nose made him not only look like a Guess Who? character, but helped him stand out in a large pool of character actors. He was more than just a “Hey, it’s that guy!” kind of guy. If you knew the face, you probably knew the name.

Henry Silva got his start at the famed Actors Studio before a short stint on Broadway and heading to Hollywood.

What was your favorite Henry Silva movie and performance? Pay tribute to the great actor in the comments below!

Source: The New York Times

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.