José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón (January 8, 1909 – January 26, 1992), was an actor and film director, born in the Santurce district of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was a 1933 graduate of Princeton University, where he wrote a senior thesis titled French Naturalism and Pardo Bazán.
Ferrer first became famous on Broadway in 1935. In 1940, he played his first starring role on Broadway, the title role in Charley's Aunt - part of it in drag. But his next triumph was even greater, as Iago in the famous 1943 Broadway production of Othello, starring Paul Robeson in the title role. It became the longest-running production of a Shakespeare play ever staged in the U.S., a record it still holds. Then, in 1946, came his greatest stage triumph, the title role in Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, a performance which won him a Tony award, and which he would repeat throughout his career, always winning acclaim for it.
Ferrer made his film debut with Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc in 1948, for which he received his first Academy Award nomination, for "Best Supporting Actor". In 1950 Ferrer won an Academy Award as "Best Actor" for his portrayal of Cyrano de Bergerac in the 1950 film Cyrano de Bergerac.
In 1952 Ferrer won three Tony Awards for directing three plays during the same season (The Shrike, Stalag 17, The Fourposter) and earned another Tony for also acting in The Shrike.
Also in 1952, Ferrer portrayed French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in John Huston's Moulin Rouge (Oscar nominated). He appeared in 1953's Miss Sadie Thompson opposite Rita Hayworth, in 1954's The Caine Mutiny and the MGM musical Deep in My Heart. In 1955 Ferrer directed himself in the film version of The Shrike. The Cockleshell Heroes followed a year later, along with The Great Man, both of which he also directed. In 1958 Ferrer directed and appeared in I Accuse! and The High Cost of Loving. Ferrer also directed, but did not appear in, Return to Peyton Place in 1961 and also the re-make of State Fair in 1962.
In 1959 Ferrer directed the original stage production of Saul Levitt's The Andersonville Trial, about the trial following the revelation of conditions at the infamous Civil War prison. It was a hit and featured George C. Scott in one of his most notable early roles. And he took over direction of the troubled musical Juno from Vincent J. Donahue, who had himself taken over from Tony Richardson. The show folded after 16 performances and mixed-to extremely negative critical reaction. In retrospect, much of Juno was very well done, especially the score by Marc Blitzstein and the choreography by Agnes de Mille, but the show's commercial failure (along with his earlier flop, Oh, Captain!), was a considerable setback to Ferrer's directing career. He would return to the stage every so often, however, and the most notable stage performance of his later career was in the dual role of Miguel de Cervantes and his fictional creation Don Quixote, in the hit musical Man of La Mancha. Ferrer took over the role from Richard Kiley in 1967, and subsequently went on tour with it in the first national company of the show.
Ferrer's other notable films include Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 (he considered this to be his finest film performance), The Greatest Story Ever Told in 1965, Ship of Fools also in 1965, Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy in 1982, and Dune in 1984.
In 1980 he had a memorable role as Justice Abe Fortas in the made-for-television film version of Anthony Lewis's Gideon's Trumpet.
Ferrer had a recurring role as Julia Duffy's insanely wealthy WASPy father on the popular Newhart television sitcom in the U.S. in the 1980s. He also had a memorable recurring role as elegant and flamboyant attorney Reuben Marino on the soap opera Another World in the early 1980s.
Ferrer had five children with singer-actress Rosemary Clooney: Miguel was born in 1955, Maria in 1956, Gabriel in 1957, Monsita in 1958, and Rafael in 1960. Clooney was Ferrer's third wife. The two were married in 1953, divorced in 1961, and remarried in 1964, only to be divorced again in 1967. Ferrer had previously been married to famed actress and acting teacher Uta Hagen (1938-1948), by whom he had a daughter, Leticia (Lettie), and actress Phyllis Hill (1948-1953). At the time of his death, Ferrer was married to Stella Magee, whom he married in the late sixties.
Ferrer was the uncle of actor George Clooney and the father-in-law of singer Debby Boone. José Ferrer died following a brief battle with colon cancer in Coral Gables, Florida at the age of 83.