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Iron Eyes Cody

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Iron Eyes Cody

Iron Eyes Cody (left), in Glendale, California (1947).
Born Espera Oscar de Corti
April 3, 1904
Kaplan, Louisiana, U.S.
Died January 4, 1999 (aged 94)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other names Tony Corti, Tony Cody, The Crying Indian
Years active 1927–1987
Spouse Bertha "Birdie" Parker (1936–1978)
Wendy Foote (1992–1993)

Iron Eyes Cody (April 3, 1904 – January 4, 1999) was an American actor. He frequently portrayed American Indians in Hollywood films. In 1995, Cody was honored by the American Indian community for his work publicizing the plight of Native Americans, including his acting in films. In 1996, his Italian ancestry was made public.



[edit] Early life

Cody was born as Espera Oscar de Corti in Kaplan, Louisiana, a second son of Antonio de Corti and his wife, Francesca Salpietra, immigrants from Sicily, Italy. He had two brothers and a sister. His parents had a local grocery store in Gueydan, Louisiana, where he was raised. In some of his earliest acting credits, he was listed as Tony de Corti. His father left the family and moved to Texas, where he took the name Tony Corti. His mother married Alton Abshire and had five more children with him.

When the three De Corti brothers were teenagers, they joined their father in Texas and also took the shortened last name of Corti. They moved on to California, where they started acting in movies, and each took the surname Cody. Joseph William and Frank Henry Cody worked some as extras, but moved on to other work. Tony Cody made a career as a film actor.

[edit] Film career

Cody began his acting career at age twelve. He worked in film and TV until the time of his death. From his time in Hollywood, Tony Cody claimed Cherokee-Cree ancestry. He lived his life as if he were of indigenous Native American descent, both on and off the screen, and strongly supported American Indian causes.

He appeared in more than 200 films, including The Big Trail (1930), with John Wayne; The Scarlet Letter (1934), with Colleen Moore; Sitting Bull (1954), as Crazy Horse; The Light in the Forest (1958) as Cuyloga; Nevada Smith (1966), with Steve McQueen; A Man Called Horse (1970), with Richard Harris; and Ernest Goes to Camp (1987), as Chief St. Cloud. In 1953, he appeared twice as Chief Big Cloud in Duncan Renaldo's television series, The Cisco Kid. He later guest starred on John Payne's NBC western series, The Restless Gun.

Cody became widely seen in his "crying Indian" role in the "Keep America Beautiful" Public Service Announcement (PSA) in the early 1970s.[1] The environmental commercial showed Cody as an Indian, shedding a tear after people throw trash from a speeding car and it lands at his feet. The announcer, William Conrad, says: "People start pollution; people can stop it."

The Joni Mitchell song "Lakota," from the 1988 album, Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm, features Cody's chanting.[2] He made a cameo appearance in the 1990 film Spirit of '76.

In an episode of the TV series, The Sopranos, titled "Christopher" (2002), Ralph Cifaretto (Joseph Pantoliano) threatens to expose Cody's Sicilian ancestry as leverage against anti-Columbus protests by an Indian group. He is told that "it's like knowing that James Caan isn't Italian" (referring to his role as an Italian American in The Godfather film).

[edit] Marriage and family

Cody married Bertha Parker, an American Indian woman, in 1936. They adopted several Indian children, including two brothers who were Dakota-Maricopa. They divorced in 1978.

In 1992 he married Wendy Foote. They divorced in 1993.

[edit] Honors

In 1995, the Hollywood American Indian community honored Cody for his contributions to the representation of Indian life.[3]

In 1996, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported his Sicilian heritage, but Cody denied it. He lived all his adult life claiming he was American Indian and supported related causes.

Cody died in 1999, aged 94; he was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. He was survived by his adopted son, Robert "Tree" Cody, who has become known as a performer on the Native American flute. Robert is of Dakota-Maricopa ancestry.

[edit] Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1919 Back to God's Country Indian Uncredited Role
1930 The Big Trail Indian Uncredited Role
1931 Fighting Caravans Indian After Firewater Uncredited Role
Oklahoma Jim War Eagle
1947 The Senator Was Indiscreet Indian
1948 Indian Agent Wovoka
1949 Massacre River Chief Yellowstone
1958 Gun Fever 1st Indian Chief
1966 Nevada Smith Taka-Ta Uncredited Role
1970 El Condor Santana, Apache Chief
Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County Crazy Foot
A Man Called Horse Medicine Man
1977 Grayeagle Standing Bear
1987 Ernest Goes to Camp Old Indian 'Chief St. Cloud'
Year Title Role Notes
1953 The Cisco Kid Chief Big Cloud / Chief Sky Eagle Two separate roles, Indian Uprising (1953) as Chief Sky Eagle and
The Gramophone (1953) as Chief Big Cloud
1955 Cavalcade of America n/a Episode, The Hostage (1955)
1967 The Fastest Guitar Alive 1st Indian
1969 Then Came Bronson Chief John Carbona Episode, Old Tigers Never Die--They Just Run Away (1969)
1986 The A-Team Chief Watashi Episode, Mission of Peace (1986)

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Iron Eyes Cody - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia