Valentin de Vargas (above left), a noted character actor who appeared as a menacing thug in Orson Welles's "Touch of Evil" and was probably best known for his performance in Howard Hawks's John Wayne-led adventure movie "Hatari!," died on June 10 of myelodysplastic syndrome in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His daughter, Vanessa de Vargas, told The Hollywood Reporter that the family wanted to wait until his burial to announce his death.
Over his 50-year career, which spanned roles on both television and in movies, de Vargas made a name for himself as an accomplished and memorable character actor. You might not ever have known his name, but you have definitely seen his face.
De Vargas's first movie was "Blackboard Jungle," alongside Sidney Poitier. While he didn't have any dialogue, he was in almost every sequence where they showed the class. He also appeared in movies as diverse as "To Live and Die in L.A." (in which he played a judge) to "The Magnificent Seven," and had a number of noteworthy TV appearances on everything from "Hill Street Blues" to "The Fugitive."
Hopefully de Vargas's death will encourage those who aren't as readily familiar with his work to revisit some of his movies. He was an ace character actor because he could do virtually anything, seamlessly slipping into roles on both sides of the moral divide and making each portrayal memorable, no matter how small or large.