Silvestre Byrón on Mon, 24 Nov 2003 15:21:08 +0100 (CET)

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[nettime-lat] EAF - Lo «amazing» del Caso Dexter

              EAF - Once Ediciones   
          Lo «amazing» del Caso Dexter

    Bailaba bonito y lucía en el color por
Technicolor. Rara trayectoria la del actor
estadounidense Walter Fleischmann. Con mucho de
asombro y de reinvención. Tras una apacible carrera
teatral en Europa y Estados Unidos, a los treinta y
ocho años interpretó el rol de Rodolfo Valentino en
una película de Columbia Pictures. "Valentino" (1951)
lo convirtió en Anthony Dexter, un prodigio del
sistema de estudios y de estrellas. Era el digno actor
de películas de acción. Héroe clásico del
cine-movimiento. El mismo fue galán romántico y héroe
acción. "The Brigand" (1952), una especie de
prisionero de Zenda de Alejandro Dumas, con un
presente Anthony Quinn y un hipotético James Mason,
confirmó su estrellato. Pese a interpretar al capitán
John Smith (el mismo de Pocahontas) y a Billy The Kid,
destacó en la Sci-Fi como un ícono de culto por la
bizarra "Twelve To The Moon" (1960). Aunque,
necesariamente, Tony Dexter quedó fijado por su
Valentino. En todo caso, por ser -él mismo- un epígono
del legendario astro del cine mudo; el «otro»
      En San Francisco hizo "The King and I" y en
Broadway "Three Sisters", "Ah, Wilderness" y "The
Barretts of Wimpole Street". El musical "Thoroughly
Modern Millie"(1967)significó el final de su carrera
cinematográfica. Nunca hizo televisión ni publicó su
autobiografía. Ya nada más se retiró. 
     Entonces se transfiguró en el profesor Walter
Craig, docente en idioma inglés y arte escénico 
en la Eagle Rock High School (circa 1971-78) de Los
     No era mal actor. Bien parecido y con excelente
voz, tenía fotogenia y glamour-boy. Aparte de
extensión interpretativa.
     ¿Lo «amazing» del Caso Dexter? Ser referente del
último holllywoodismo. Su estrellato comenzó a brillar
cuando se derrumbaba el cine "de cartelera" ante el
cine "de autor".
    Nunca fue olvidado. A&E Mundo lo actualiza en el
cable. Gilda Tabarez y Ron Miller lo consagran ahora
en la gloria telemática.-   
                   Isn't it Amazing!
           Rudolph Valentino-Anthony Dexter 

             COLUMBIA PICTURES presents 
                 "V A L E N T I N O" 

    An EDWARD SMALL Production
    Written by GEORGE BRUCE 
    Directed by LEWIS ALLEN 

    performed by THE CASTILIANS 

      Noche de amor,  
    The pagan moon was high above you, 
    And the night was aflame with shooting stars. 
      Noche de Amor,  
    My  heart was echoing "I love you," 
    And the echo became a million guitars. 
    Then we were throbbing to the rapure 
    and the rhythm of a tango, 
    A pair of dancers, A dance of bliss. 
    Then I was whispering, "Te quiero mucho!" 
    And all your answers fell like kisses. 

      Take me once more,  
    and let our hearts begin the tango, 
    Hold me tight as before,  
      Noche de Amor.


                    ANTHONY DEXTER
               Biographical Information

   Anthony Dexter was born Walter Reinhold Alfred
Fleischmann, on January 19, 1913, in Talmadge,
Nebraska.  He earned an M.A. degree from the
University of Iowa.  Anthony Dexter was a stage actor
before and after his World War II army service. His
casting in the title role of the 1951 film
"Valentino", which was greeted with a fanfare of
publicity, was the culmination of one of the greatest
talent hunts in the history of motion pictures. 
Producer Edward Small's search covered 11 years of
effort and brought forth 75,000 applicants for the job
of playing the legendary silent film star, Rudolph

   Tony Dexter, one time Nebraska farm boy, college
choir singer, football star and G.I. sergeant, proved
he had the right stuff.  Of all of the actors who have
tried to play Valentino in subsequent films, his
portrayal remains by far the best.  Bearing an uncanny
resemblance to Rudy, Anthony Dexter was well-suited to
the role.  His acting and dancing skills, along with
good production values, made "Valentino" an
entertaining film. 

   Tall and handsome, Anthony Dexter was known to have
one of the best physiques in Hollywood of his day. He
went on to star in a number of other films, including
The Brigand (1952), Captain John Smith And Pocahontas
(1953); Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl (1954); The
Black Pirates (1954); He Laughed Last (1956); The
Story of Mankind (1957); The Parson and the Outlaw
(1957); Twelve To The Moon (1960); and Thoroughly
Modern Millie (1967). 

   After retiring from the screen, Anthony Dexter, now
known as Mr. Walter Craig, became a teacher of English
and Drama. When he retired from teaching, Mr. Craig
moved to Greeley, Colorado, where he lived until his
death on March 27, 2001.   His passing ended an era,
which began with the great Valentino with whom Anthony
Dexter will always be identified.  He is survived by
two daughters, Kimberly and Claudia, and four
grandchildren.  He will remain in the loving memory of
his family, his friends and his fans around the world.


                    Anthony Dexter
             The Man Who Played Valentino 
           Famous one day, obscure the next
           Dexter never got a second chance


   IT TOOK 10 days for the papers to catch up to the
fact that Anthony Dexter, the overnight sensation who
starred in the hit 1951 movie "Valentino," had died in
obscurity in the town of Greeley, Colorado, last March

   One reason is that the actor had long since given
up his Hollywood name and was known as Walter Craig at
the time of his death. But it probably wouldn't have
made much difference anyway since hardly anyone
remembered Anthony Dexter, the Hollywood star who
faded from the limelight almost as fast as he arrived
there in an orgasm of national publicity.

   If you live a genuinely obscure life, almost nobody
gets anything right about you in your obituary because
nobody ever bothered to check the facts in the first
place. The L.A. Times obituary listed his real name as
Walter Craig and his age as 88, but Leslie Halliwell's
Filmgoers' Companion, a standard movie reference book,
lists his real name as Walter Fleischmann and his
birthdate as 1919, which would have made him 81 or 82
when he died.

   I don't know who's right, although I'm inclined to
believe he was around 30-31 when he starred in
"Valentino," which would place him in his early 80s
last month. What's kind of peculiar, though, is the
fact that Dexter was used to that sort of thing. He
had lived his life with constant reminders of his "has
been" status and knew the reason why: His uncanny
resemblance to Rudolph Valentino, a Hollywood immortal
who's still vividly "remembered" even though hardly
anyone is still alive who actually knew him.

   My connection with Anthony Dexter is very
ephemeral. I saw him in "Valentino" and its follow-up,
"The Brigand," a sort of spin on Valentino's silent
movie "The Eagle." At the time, I was a junior high
school kid. By the time I got to high school, he was
making low budget pictures for Robert L. Lippert, a
schlock producer of cheap programmers like "Captain
John Smith and Pocahontas," "Captain Kidd and the
Slave Girl" and "The Black Pirates," still being
forced to mimic Valentino in tawdry swashbucklers that
buckled where they should have swashed. In short, he
was already over with as a movie star.

   In the late 1950s, when I was working my way
through college as a freelance writer and doing
part-time work as a reporter for my local newspaper in
Santa Cruz, Calif., Dexter had gone back to summer
stock, which brought him to nearby Monterey, Calif.,
to play the king opposite Patricia Morison in a summer
production of "The King and I." I asked for an
interview and he graciously agreed.

   Two things struck me right away when I met Dexter
in Monterey and began talking with him in his hotel
room: He really did look amazingly like Rudolph
Valentino--and he was an incredibly likeable,
disarmingly candid sort of guy.

   "I've never cared much for publicity," Dexter told
me. "I'd rather just go my own way and do my work with
no fanfare."

   He explained why: The studio publicity people faked
virtually every fact about him when they made up his
biography for "Valentino." For one thing, they claimed
he'd been found working on a farm and was cast in the
leading role in a major studio production simply
because he bore a striking resemblance to Valentino.

   In fact, Dexter explained, he had a master's degree
in theater arts and had been a college drama teacher.
What's more, he had loads of stage experience as an
actor, had toured with Katharine Cornell, had been in
a command performance at the Royal Theatre in Denmark
and was, at the time, working on his doctorate in
theatre arts. He had appeared in many Broadway shows,
including "The Barretts of Wimpole Street."

   He blamed the awesome burst of publicity
surrounding "Valentino" for permanently sticking him
with the image of a long-dead romantic swashbuckler
from silent movie days. In fact, all his movies of the
1950s tried to capitalize on his "Rudy" look with the
slicked-back hair, flaring nostrils and feline eyes.
It was as if Hollywood wanted to reincarnate Valentino
rather than develop Dexter as his own persona.

   Dexter had been under contract to producer Edward
Small, who did "Valentino," and broke the contract
rather than keep doing ersatz Valentino pictures.
Right away he discovered that's all any producers
wanted to do with him--only for less money.

   "It was the stupidest thing I ever did in my life,"
Dexter told me. "(Small) would have pulled me out of
the Valentino mold in time and given me career
security, too. But I didn't know many answers then."

   Ultimately, Dexter's movie career skidded to a halt
after he starred in some of the all-time worst
science-fiction films in Hollywood history, especially
the notorious "Fire Maidens of Outer Space" and "The
Phantom Planet." Finally billed as just plain "Tony"
Dexter, he had broken out of the Valentino mold, all
right, but into something considerably worse.

   "I made three pilot films for television," he told
me. "Two of them were swashbucklers. But the networks
went for westerns at the last minute."

   In his later years, Dexter returned to teaching. He
taught speech and drama at a Los Angeles high school
for most of the 1970s. He was living in retirement in
Colorado when he died last month.

    For more than 40 years, I've seen at least once
every day the photo I took of Anthony Dexter on the
day of our interview. I thought it was a pretty good
shot, so I framed it and hung it among a few others on
the wall behind my writing desk. It also reminds me
that he was a good guy, willing to help a young
journalist even if it meant doing something he really
didn't want to do.

    "I suppose you want me like this," he told me that
day, turning his face so his profile was in the
morning light coming through the window of his room.
"That's my best Valentino side."

© 2001 by Ron Miller. 
You can comment on this column or contact Ron Miller
with an email to:

                         Investigación Periodística
                                     Marco A. Cucco


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