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Joaquin Martinez dies at 81

Actor appeared in film and TV Westerns

Actor Joaquin Martinez, best remembered for the role of Paints His Shirt Red in Sydney Pollack’s Robert Redford starrer “Jeremiah Johnson” and for the title role in Robert Aldrich’s “Ulzana’s Raid” (1972), starring Burt Lancaster, died on Jan. 3 at his home in Everdingen, Holland, after a brief struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Born in Cozumel, Mexico, Martinez studied Method acting with Seki Sano and came to prominence in Carlos Velo’s Mexican film “Pedro Paramo,” which premiered at Cannes in 1967. Shortly thereafter he moved to Los Angeles and worked as an actor in film, on television and onstage for more than three decades.

Offered stereotypical roles, like many Latino actors, during his career in Hollywood, Martinez would work to redefine the parts, sometimes bringing him into conflict with producers and directors.

His TV work including guest roles in a large number of Western series, including “The High Chapparal,” “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke”; guest gigs on “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “Ironside,” “Quincy,” “L.A. Law,” “Dynasty” and “Northern Exposure”; and roles in telepics and miniseries incliuding “Ishi: The Last of His Tribe,” “Centennial,” “How the West Was Won” and “Stones for Ibarra.”

Film credits Bille August’s 1993 “The House of the Spirits,” and “Revenge” (1990), starring Kevin Costner and Anthony Quinn. In 2001, Lee Tamahori cast Martinez in the James Bond thriller “Die Another Day” based on his longtime admiration for Martinez’s performance in “Ulzana’s Raid.”

Onstage Joaquin appeared with Christopher Reeve and Christine Lahti in Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke” at the Ahmanson in 1988. He was also an original cast member of the musical drama “Zoot Suit.”

Martinez is survived by his wife, Marja Valkestijn; son Christopher, a publicist; a daughter, Jennifer; stepson Sjoerd; and former wife Mary Preston.

Donations may be made in his memory to the SAG Children’s Fund for Children’s Literacy.

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