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Remembering Actor Cesar Romero

Written by on August 4, 2020

Story by Chuck Tackett

Remembering Actor Cesar Romero

   ” That is perceptive of you because in this country men dancers have always been viewed with suspicion. If you were an actor, a star, and a dancer, you had to be, or have a name like someone ‘mainstream’.”

Cesar Romero, Actor

Usually, when I bring up an actor or singer, it is to pay homage to them when they recently passed. This is an exception.

Recently, one of my Seattle, Washington Chuck’s Chat readers, Patrick Heard, posted a meme about an actor from the golden age of old Hollywood that I never knew was LGBTQ. That actor was Cesar Romero. I would love to give Patrick a huge thank you. If it wasn’t for him sharing this piece of knowledge I didn’t know about, this article would have not been written. THANKS AGAIN PATRICK !!!

Born March 15, 1907, in New York City, Cesar Julio Romero Jr. was the son of Cesar Romero Sr. from Spain. His mother, Maria Matilla, was from Cuba. Rumor had it she was the daughter of Jose Marti, a Cuban national hero.

In October 1942, Mr. Romero took a break from his acting career to voluntarily enlist in the Coast Guard as a seaman and reported to the battleship, USS Cavalier. Mr. Romero wanted to be treated like any other member of the crew, seeing action in the invasion of Tinian and Saipan. he served in the military from 1942 to 1945. He returned back to his acting career that he began in 1933.

All during the early days of Mr. Romero’s career, he was usually typecast as a gigolo, or “the other man.” Mr. Romero also sang and danced. He also played “The Cisco Kid” in the movie “The Gay Caballero.” (Recognize, back in those days, that adjective had a completely different meaning.)

Mr. Romero had a very long acting career, in both the big screen and television spanning from the 1930s to the 1990s.

I was born in 1955, so like most Baby Boomers my age, I was not acquainted with Mr. Romero, until he starred as The Joker in 1966, on the Batman TV series. I always remembered that insane laugh, when he portrayed The Joker. He has the distinction of being the first Joker. I love the fact that, besides his laugh, how he embraced his Latino heritage in that character, by constantly rolling his “r,” even when his voice was in character. No other actor who portrayed the Joker has done that since.

All during his career, Mr. Romero never married or had any children. He would play the perpetual playboy, by saying he was a “confirmed bachelor.” At huge Hollywood events, you would always see Mr. Romero with actresses around his arm, like Joan Crawford, Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, and others as “beards,” to cover the fact he was on the down-low.

When I became much older, I would hear of Old Hollywood legends who were secretly LGBTQs, I would hear the names of Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Raymond Burr, Cary Grant, etc. I never heard anyone mention anything about Cesar Romero. Well in my Chuck’s Chat articles, I make a special effort to educate myself, and others, regarding Non-White LGBTQs of color. At times, we are treated as if we are invisible in mainstream White LGBTQ society.

Mr. Romero passed away on January 1st, 1994, from complications caused by a blood clot in his lungs, from a severe case of bronchitis and pneumonia.

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