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Oscars 2015: A Look at Biggest Latino Oscar Winners of the Past

First Posted: Feb 22, 2015 05:00 AM EST

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Since the 2015 Oscars are being attacked as the "whitest" entertainment award show in years, with the only nominated man of color being the Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu for his movie "Birdman," it is perhaps time to take a look at some of the Latino actors who were nominated for and even took home an Oscar in the past.

In 1950 Puerto Rican born José Ferrer, who had been nominated for best supporting actor two years earlier for Joan of Arc, was the first Hispanic actor to receive an Academy Award for best actor for his role as Cyrano de Bergerac, in which he played the romantic wit with a big nose and an even bigger vocabulary.

In 1985, Ferrer was one of 12 winners of the first National Medal of Arts. As a thespian, he was a go-to guy for Shakespearean classics and was versatile enough to snag a role in Woody Allen’s "A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy."

In 1990, the Cuban actor Andy García, who at the time resemble a young Robert DeNiro, was nominated for his supporting role in "The Godfather Part III."

In 2000, Benicio del Toro, who hails from Puerto Rico, won an Academy Award for his Spanish speaking supporting role in Traffic and was nominated in 2003 for his work in 21 Grams.

Mexican actor Demián Bichir Nájera was nominated for best actor for "A Better Life" in 2011.

But the Latino actor who was really up for a good number of Oscars was Mexican-born Anthony Quinn.

In 1952, he won a supporting actor award for "Viva Zapata!," and in 1956 he won another one for "Lust for Life."  He was also nominated in the best actor category for "Wild Is the Wind" and "Zorba the Greek."

An advocate of psychoanalysis, Quinn expressed to Roger Ebert in a 1972 interview how he used to choose roles that would allow him to analyze himself but had come around to being able to eventually play anyone.

"I can play people at peace with themselves," Quinn said. "I can play Zorba. I can play the Pope. In my new Western, I play a rough, tough cowboy who is moved to tears by the sight of a little flower in the desert."

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