Oscars 2015 History: How Have Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Hispanic-Americans Done With the Academy Awards?
Outside of Mexicans and Argentines, not many other Latin Americans have managed strong performances at the Oscar. That said, there are Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Hispanic-Americans who have succeeded at the event over the years.
Only two Cubans have managed to make appearances at the Oscars. Actor Andy Garcia notched a supporting actor nomination in 1990 for his turn in "The Godfather Part III." The only other Cuban nomination came in the Best Foreign Language Film category; that nomination came in 1994 for "Strawberry and Chocolate." Neither nominee managed a victory at the Oscars.
Puerto Ricans have done slightly better in the category; nine actors have been nominated. Jose Ferrer was the first Hispanic to be nominated for an acting Academy in 1948 for his supporting role in "Joan of Arc." He then made history as the first Hispanic to win an acting Oscar in 1950 for his lead role in "Cyrano de Bergerac"; he also became the first Hispanic to be nominated more than once. He obtained a third and final nomination in 1952 in the best acting category for his lead in "Moulin Rouge."
Rita Moreno then became the first Hispanic-American woman to win an Oscar for her Supporting Role in "West Side Story" in 1961. It then took 32 years for a Puerto Rican to get another acting nomination; it came when Rosie Perez earned a nod for her 1993 turn in "Fearless."
It did not take long for a victory to come as Benicio del Toro would make major history in 2000 when he pulled off a victory for his supporting role in "Traffic." But the win would be significant for another reason -- del Toro would be the first and only actor to win an Oscar for a Spanish-speaking role.
Del Toro would also get a nomination for his turn in "21 Grams" in 2003.
The other Puerto Rican to get nominated at the Oscars is Joaquin Phoenix, who has earned three nods for his performances in "Gladiator" (2000), "Walk the Line" (2005) and "The Master" (2012). Del Toro and Phoenix's simultaneous nominations in 2000 represented the first time that two Puerto Rican-born actors were nominated in the same category in the same year.
Puerto Ricans have had less luck in the Foreign Language film category despite submitting 11 times to the Oscars. The lone nomination came in 1989 for Jacobo Morales' "Lo que le Paso a Santiago."
Puerto Rican Jose Rivera also earned a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for his work on "The Motorcycle Diaries."
Regarding Hispanic-Americans (Hispanics born in the continental United States) there are seven who have earned Oscar nominations. They include Mexican-American Susan Kohner for her Best Supporting Actress role in 1959's "Imitation of Life," Rita Moreno for her aforementioned win in "West Side Story," Mercedes Ruehl for her 1991 turn in "The Fisher King" and Rosie Perez for "Fearless." Best Supporting Actress is the category with most nominations for Hispanic-Americans.
Salma Hayek is the only Hispanic-American to earn a nomination for her lead role in "Frida," while Edward James Olmos is the only Hispanic-American to earn a nod in the lead actor category for "Stand and Deliver." The other Hispanic American to earn a nomination is Gregory Nava for his Best Original Screenplay in 1983's "El Norte."
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