Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rollin' on Rivero

Today’s hunk is one that not so many people know about. I usually keep him to myself, but I’m in a generous enough mood today to share! Jorge Rivero (first name pronounced “whore, hey!”) is a physically impressive Mexican actor who had a stab at Hollywood film stardom during the 1970s. At varying times in his career, he has also gone by Jorge Rivé, Jorge Pous Ribe, George Rivero and George Rivers, but by any name he smells as sweet!

Born in Mexico City in 1938, he proved a very athletic youth, excelling at both track and jai alai. This was no dumb jock, though. He also graduated from The College of Mexico with a degree in chemical engineering! Always a strikingly handsome, dark-haired, dark-eyed guy with a chiseled physique, he was eventually lured into acting, where he enjoyed considerable success.

Unbelievably, his gorgeous face was obscured at all times in his first film, 1965’s The Invisible Assassin, except for a fleeting moment at the end. A film about wrestling, he played a character called The Golden Mask. It was not the only time he would work in a film with a wrestling element (for a time, at least, a popular genre in Mexico.) This one employed the fantasy device of having a character who could turn invisible. Rivero's considerable muscles were featured in bodybuilder publications as well.


The director of Assassin, Rene Cardona, gave Jorge several opportunities for a jump-start in films. El Mexicano in 1966 was a western that hit very big in his home country and made him an almost overnight star. He worked with other directors, but made five features for Cardona along with one TV miniseries. Cardona, who also acted in films with and without Rivero, had a son and a grandson who also became Mexican film directors (with the same name only marked by Jr and III.)

Rivero began playing a character called Jorge Rubio in Operation 67. A James Bond-like character who also was a proficient wrestler, he would resurface a couple more times in other follow up films. Operation 67 is notable for the unbelievable bachelor pad Rivero resides in, which has a beach room complete with sand! Like Bond, there are plenty of girls, gadgetry and unusual sets, while on a far lower budget, naturally. Best of all, Rivero frequently shows off his terrific body, sometimes in abbreviated trunks and, as shown in a blurry underwater shot, sometimes revealing his tantalizing tan line. He also lifts weights in a skimpy pair of blue briefs. (These shots, and others from some of his early work, are blurry because they’re captured from video. He looks so much better in the actual films.)
Those chomping at the bit to see more than just a slim tan line on Rivero would have their prayers answered for all time when he filmed 1969’s The Sin of Adam and Eve. An almost surreal approach to the famous Biblical story, this film’s Eden looks more like Alice’s Wonderland sometimes, with vibrant oversized flowers and decidedly fake looking landscapes.

Who even can pay attention to the landscaping, though, when there’s manscaping to deal with?! While there is no frontal nudity on view here (and the poor guy has to contort like a circus act to avoid it!), Jorge is naked throughout the opening scenes of the film. His perfect body is shown in (almost) all its glory as he strolls around Eden, sometimes using a baby lamb as camouflage, sometimes standing behind a large plant. In a few awkward moments, he arises from either slumber or sitting to have a small leaf or two adhered to his bare, lightly furry behind. This never happened to Johnny Weismuller.

He does have several rear nude scenes, notably when he decides to dive into the impossibly blue water for a swim. Eventually, Eve shows up and things head south. The terrain turns rocky and gray. As per the story, he winds up in a covering of fig leaves, which is inexplicably high-waisted. After all, this wasn’t shot in 1952. All of Rivero’s nude scenes in this film should be shown on a continuous loop on a 24-hour high-definition cable channel. (Hey, it beats watching Melissa Gilbert hawk hair products or that squatty red-haired lady demonstrating various cooking devices!)
Rivero kept busy in the Mexican film industry and became a hot commodity for the gossip rags there. Thankfully for them, and for us, pictures of him in skimpy swimsuits were available for use on their covers and to go with their endless stories about him and his exploits. Few people in America knew who he was, but he was a big fish in a little pond in Mexico. Check the hilariously groovy hairdo in this shot at the right!
Finally, in 1970, Rivero was enlisted to take part in the violent and highly controversial western Soldier Blue. Based on a short novel called Arrow in the Sun, the revisionist project sought to draw parallels between the treatment of the Native Americans and the Vietnam War in which many innocents were killed. Starring Candice Bergen and Peter Strauss, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of screen time given to Rivero as the Indian chief Spotted Wolf, but his physical power lent some impact.

One of the most graphically bloody films of its time, the director Ralph Nelson hired orphans and others with amputated limbs, then attached prosthetic ones that could then be hacked off when the cameras were rolling, providing a level of violence scarcely seen to that date. Perhaps it explains how warped I am that I was taken to see this when I was about 5 (!) and was scarred by it for a long time. Still, if I was going to be captured by an Indian, as Candice Bergan was here, this is the one I want it to be! (And she didn't seem to mind all that much, either!)

No less than John Wayne called upon Rivero for his next Hollywood film, Rio Lobo. Playing a character called Pierre Cardona (a nod to his director mentor Rene Cardona or a fluke?) and nicknamed Frenchy, he was one of Wayne’s sidekicks in hunting down a traitor who caused a friend’s death.

Rio Lobo was not particularly well received, then or now, partly due to the female cast that included a horribly inept and misplaced Jennifer O’Neill and an unseasoned starlet named Sherry Lansing (who later became a monumentally successful film exec!) It wasn’t a flop, but wasn’t one of The Duke’s better vehicles either. Rivero’s role was sizeable, and he looked nice in his fitted buckskin shirt (not the shirt shown here), but the film would have benefited greatly from a swimming hole scene or something!

After this less than stellar experience, it was back to Mexico for many more films. He was really sporting the 70s vibe with a thick mustache and satin running jackets with nada underneath! Still a significant star there, he continued to churn out a variety of movies and didn’t do any English language projects until 1976 when the TV series Columbo decided to do an episode on location in Mexico, featuring Ricardo Montalban as an ex-bullfighter and Rivero as his employee.

Then, perhaps inspired by this to give American projects another shot, he was utilized in the Charlton Heston-James Coburn film The Last Hard Men. Yet another film that was noted for its tendency towards violence, Rivero played a convict, scarred in the face, who helps Coburn kidnap lawman Heston’s daughter Barbara Hershey in an act of revenge.

Apart from the blood, there was a rape scene in the film that caused a bit of a stir. Still just a supporting player or a sidekick in U.S. movies, Jorge was soon back in Mexico where he continued to star in many films there, often with an erotic or horror (or both) aspect. There is a nude photo of Jorge floating around out there that looks authentic, but could also be a fake. An unusual situation, it has him sitting naked on a moving boat while a boy is sitting behind him with his back to him and another man is to the left. What on Earth was going on?

In 1978, he was part of the absolutely mammoth miniseries Centennial, an epic account of the settling of Colorado. Starring Robert Conrad, Richard Chamberlain, Chad Everett, Gregory Harrison and practically anyone who was anyone on TV at that time, Rivero played another Indian Chief, this one named Broken Thumb. Again, his physical stature aided him in portraying strength and presence, but the role was tiny and he was underutilized. Jorge always performed, however, with commitment to his part.

The following year, still busily churning out Mexican flicks (he was in six films the same year as Centennial and appeared in TWELVE in 1979!), he starred in Erotica, about an escaped convict hiding out on a deserted beach with a woman. Their burgeoning relationship is affected when one of his fellow prisoners winds up joining them. At 41 years of age, he still possessed a body to make mouths fall agape. Deborah Kerr had it pretty good on the beach with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity, but this chick could have done much worse, as well! (I had a friend once who used to say about cute guys, "
Day of the Assassin was a cheapjack production that somehow drew Chuck Conners, Richard Roundtree, Henry Silva and a faltering Glenn Ford together with Rivero. Ford really should have allowed the well-made Superman to be his cinematic swansong. Anyway, this action film was nothing but a tacky, unintentionally funny mess.

1981 brought a role in Priest of Love, a biopic of D. H. Lawrence that starred Ian McKellan as the author and Janet Suzman as his ill wife. Their stay in New Mexico with art patroness Ava Gardner is what made a role for Rivero possible.

The bulk of Rivero’s remaining work falls into the straight-to-video category. This being the 80s, trashy action flicks and cheap sci-fi provided employment opportunities for those not at the peak of their career. Relocating to Southern California made him readily available to film these projects. He played a Conan-like mentor to a young warrior in Conquest. There was also a guest shot on the then-popular TV show Scarecrow and Mrs. King.

He joined up with Andrew Stevens (who became a successful straight-to-video actor and producer/director) in the action flick Counterforce. Other “names” in the cast included Robert Forster, George Kennedy, Louis Jourdan and Isaac Hayes. Albeit, the film is cheap garbage, but he was still looking good and giving it all he could. His wife at the time, Betty Moran, played a newscaster. (His second wife, Irene, has given Rivero two children.)
He made another revenge flick called Fist Fighter, which costarred several other folks who, by 1989, were past their “best when sold by” date like Mike Conners and Edward Albert. This one spawned a sequel in ’93. Still, even now at 51, Rivero’s body was in incredible shape. He never became bulky or hulking in his bodybuilding like so many do. He remained proportionate and just really fit.

Up for almost anything, apparently, one of his latter day films called upon this most masculine of men to go undercover in drag! No this is not a still from some long lost Kaye Ballard sitcom, this is Mr. Rivero all decked out as a woman!

Considering the rate he was spinning out films in Mexico, quality was not the keyword for most of Rivero’s career. Attention mostly went to his body, which was either glorified on film or utilized as part of countless action scenes. Despite this, Rivero developed into a charismatic screen performer. It seemed in 2001 that he might be attempting a new avenue with the film The Pearl, based on a John Steinbeck novel and featuring Lukas Haas and Richard Harris, but it is his last screen credit to date. (He was only 62 then and surely could have continued working had he wanted to.)

Now 72, he remains in shape and very handsome. We hope he is happy and content in his retirement, though we wouldn’t be averse to having him pop up in another film or television project. (Oddly enough, there are now so many more opportunities for a Latin American actor who wants to play more than Indians or other types.) If you want to see Jorge in his prime, there are several youtube.com clips from his 60s films. Just search for “Jorge Rivero.”

On an unrelated note, I must alert you, my loyal readers, that I am heading out of town tonight, returning late Sunday, and so there will be another gap in my already diminishing series of posts at The Underworld. I’m going away next weekend, too, and June is insane in general, so please be patient if you don’t see any updates for a while. I still have plenty to yammer about, just not the time I would like! Thank you so much for visiting this site.

8 comments:

Rob said...

"...he was utilized in the Charlton Heston-James Coburn film The Last Hard Men." (!)
What a good looking man!

Topaz said...

I remember my grandparents taking me to see Rio Lobo when I was just a kid and being struck by how attractive Rivero was. A harbinger of things to come, no doubt. That he looks so good even today is a welcome surprise.

normadesmond said...

who knew?

quite the dreamy dude.....sadly, his most recent photo shows him with the shittiest of haircuts....so off balance.

Poseidon3 said...

But look how thick it is, Norma! There's still potential.

Thanks for commenting y'all!

TJB said...

Norma, my angel, why worry about the unfortunate hair, when in the most fortunate of circumstances, it would be damp and matted down from sweaty physical exertions anyway?

Loved this post - I've been peripherally aware of Jorge Rivero and intrigued by his almost impossibly handsome face and form since discovering him over at Brian's Drive In Theater; but leave it to Poseidon to really flesh out (ahem) his profile and discover so many more photos and goodies! Love you.

Tom Peeping said...

If you freeze the frame and look very carefully at the scene where Jorge R. dives in the blue lake in The Sin of Adam and Eve, you might be able to see the thing. And God did I try! Thanks for the portrait.

PBSholley said...

I suspect the full frontal is not a fake since the tendency is to, shall we say, enhance various points of interest. Some summaries of his softcore films say there is full frontal male nudity, but I haven't seen them to verify that.

I always thought it was a shame they shaved his chest for "Fist Fighter", that salt and pepper would have been delicious! I also saw there was a sequal c1990 "Fist Fighter 2." Have you heard about it?

Poseidon3 said...

My skill at detecting fakes is marginal at best, though I do think the photo was real, the one I had. I have chosen not to have full frontal nudity on my site so that a wider audience of visitors can enjoy it (hopefully!), but I will put a link to a page that shows the whole enchilada, so to speak! This is not the place where I obtained my copy of the picture, but it's been years now and my laptop was stolen with my original copy with it! See what you think. The page is in Spanish, but Google can translate it: http://agpandorabox.blogspot.com/2010/02/jorge-rivero-o-el-mito-del-macho-latino.html