Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Rodolfo Acosta in "Apache Warrior"
Vasquez Rocks

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Rodolfo Acosta (left, in blue) co-stars in "Apache Warrior" (20th Century-Fox, 1957), which was partially filmed at Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce.

Lobby card No. 8 (of 8), 11x14 inches. The scene appears to have been set up on a sound stage, but considering the open flame (if it truly is), then perhaps the photo was shot at the Rocks. It would have been a BW publicity photograph that was subsequently colorized for the lobby card. The numbers "57-409" in the lower right-hand corner mean this was the 409th film handled in 1957 by National Screen Service Corp., which licenced advertising materials to distributors who provided them to local theaters.

"Apache Warrior" is subtitled "The true story of the Apache Kid," played here by Keith Larsen (1924-2006). The real Apache Kid, Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl, was a White Mountain Apache scout for the U.S. Cavalry who participated in the 1886 capture of Geronimo. The following year, a series of altercations involving the Kid and other scouts in his charge resulted in their court-martial and imprisonment in Alcatraz. The convictions were overturned in 1888, but their Apache enemies, who obviously were many, successfully campaigned for their re-arrest. En route to the territorial prison in Yuma, the Kid and eight others overpowered the guards and escaped into the desert.

A massive manhunt led to the recapture of all of them except the Kid. He rode into legend, never to be seen again. The Apache Kid Wildnerness in New Mexico is named for him.

The movie version also features Jim Davis, John Miljan, Damian O'Flynn, George Keymas, Lane Bradford, Dehl Berti, Eugenia Paul, Nick Thompson, Eddie Little Sky, Michael Carr, Ray Kellogg, Karl "Killer" Davis, David Carlile and Allan Nixon.

Stunt players are Vance Howard, Walter Kray, Cliff Lyons, Mark Sheeler and Boyd Stockman.

About Rodolfo Acosta.

Mexican-American screen actor Rodolfo "Rudy" Acosta (1920-1974) was inducted posthumously into the Newhall Walk of Western Stars in 2013. He is the father of Santa Clarita Assemblyman Dante Acosta (who also has his SAG card).

According to his Texas birth certificate, Rodolfo entered the world as a U.S. citizen on July 29, 1920. He was born in the family home at 609 E. 3rd Avenue in El Paso's El Segundo Barrio, the city's second-oldest neighborhood and an arrival point since the 1880s for Mexican immigrants crossing the Rio Grande through Ciudad Juarez. Both parents hailed from Mexico: José Acosta (aka Joseph R.), a machinist, and his wife, Alexandria Perez (aka Alejandrina).

According to anthology authors Luis Reyes and Peter Rubie,[1] "When [Rodolfo] was three years old, his family moved to California, where he attended Los Angeles City College and UCLA." The 1940 U.S. Census shows Rodolfo, the eldest of four children, as a college student living at home with his parents and siblings at 3736 Mercury Avenue in the Montecito Heights section of Los Angeles.

There is much erroneous information on and off the Internet about Rodolfo's early years. Some sources incorrectly state he was born in Chihuahua, Mexico; others incorrectly state he was born in the Chamizac section of El Paso, which is actually one barrio to the east. Some falsely claim he attended a Lincoln High School in northern California; in fact, Abraham Lincoln High School was then and is now in Lincoln Heights, right down the road from Montecito Heights. Some say he was born Rodolfo Acosta Perez, and although it's true he used this traditional Mexican naming convention in 1952 when he traveled to Brazil — where his visa states, for whatever reason, that he was born in Ciudad Juarez — his full legal birth name was "Rodolfo Acosta" (NMI).

Returning to our timeline, Reyes and Rubie continue: "He was fascinated by acting, studying it at school as well as at the Pasadena Playhouse. His success in dramatic studies reached a peak at age 19 [probably 20] when he accepted a prize scholarship from the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, where he stayed for three years."

Back in the States in 1943, he used the Mercury Avenue address when he signed his draft card (as Rudolph Perez Acosta) on March 23. He stood 5-feet-11 and weighed 180 pounds. According to Reyes and Rubie, he was assigned to naval intelligence. He reportedly married a woman he met in Casablanca. The union did not last much more than a few years.

After the war, he landed a role as one of the minions of the crime boss in the 1946 Spanish-language film, "Soy un Prófugo" ("I Am a Fugitive"), directed by Miguel M. Delgado. How it turned into the John Ford picture of essentially the same name ("The Fugitive") one year later, we don't know, but Ford cast Acosta in it, this time as a policeman, supposedly after seeing him in a stage production. It, too, was filmed in Mexico. Despite a cast headed by Henry Fonda and the top Mexican actors Dolores del Rio and Pedro Armendariz, "The Fugutive" lost $700,000 for RKO.[2]

Acosta spent the late 1940s and 1950s going back and forth across the border to play major roles in Mexico and usually smaller roles in the U.S., often as a villain or a heavy. "In 1948, the famous Mexican actor-director Emilio Fernandez wrote for him the role of Paco, a gigolo, in the Mexican film classic Salón México. The part won Acosta Mexico's highest acting award, the Ariel," Reyes and Rubie write. "He was immediately signed by Hugo Fregonese to co-star with James Mason in the 1950 production, 'One Way Street,' which led to a Universal contract."

Acosta also went back and forth from the big screen to the small, appearing in "The Big Valley," "Maverick," "Tales of Wells Fargo," "Bonanza" and other TV Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s.

One of his most enduring roles was that of Silva, an Apache warrior who tries to kill John Wayne's character in the 1953 John Farrow screen adaptation of Louis L'Amour's "Hondo." Diehard fans of Duke Wayne still resent him for it.

A few of the motion pictures and television episodes that featured Acosta were made in the Santa Clarita Valley, such as 1957's "Apache Warrior" from 20th Century-Fox, which used Vasquez Rocks, and the TV series "Zorro" and "Have Gun-Will Travel," which used several SCV locations.

A sampling of additional appearances: "One-Eyed Jacks" (1961), "How the West Was Won" (1962), "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965), "The Sons of Katie Elder" (1965), "Return of the Magnificent Seven" (1966), "Mission: Impossible" (TV, 1969), "Ironside" (TV, 1971-1973).

Acosta succumbed to cancer November 7, 1974, at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills.

1. Reyes, Luis, and Peter Rubie. "Hispanics in Hollywood." Los Angeles: Lone Eagle Publishing Co., 2000.

2. Eyman, Scott. "John Wayne: The Life and Legend." New York: Simon & Schuster 2014.

LW3399: 9600 dpi jpeg from original lobby card purchased 2018 by Leon Worden.



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