Ricardo Cortez (1900-1977) was a handsome and talented leading man whose image, in the silent era, was that of a hot-blooded Latin lover.
In truth, his name was Jacob Krantz, the son of a kosher butcher, born and raised in the mean streets of New York’s Lower East Side.
A major, but frequently overlooked ingredient that contributed to the glamorous image of Hollywood’s greatest stars were their voices.
Under the studio system, actors were given rigorous voice training. They were taught to enunciate clearly, and how to emphasize certain words in order to give better line readings. They were drilled on how to breathe in order to speak their dialogue with confidence and ease.
Director Howard Hawks did not hesitate to make Lauren Bacall stand on a Malibu cliff and scream at the waves until her voice was raw and hoarse. He felt, correctly, that a deep, smoky voice on a female was, well, sexy.