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Actor Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez dies at 80

Comedic entertainer appeared with John Wayne in ‘Rio Bravo,’ other films
/ Source: The Associated Press

Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, a comedic entertainer and character actor who appeared in John Wayne films and other movies, has died. He was 80.

Gonzalez Gonzalez died of natural causes at his home Feb. 6, said his grandson, actor Clifton Collins Jr.

Gonzalez Gonzalez began his entertainment career at age 7, when his parents pulled him out of school to entertain migrant workers and residents in the American Southwest.

In 1953, he appeared as a contestant on Groucho Marx's TV quiz show "You Bet Your Life," and his banter with the legendary entertainer stole the show. John Wayne saw the performance and signed Gonzalez Gonzalez to his production company.

The films with Wayne, among them "The High and the Mighty," "Rio Bravo" and "Hellfighters," and guest appearances on such TV series as "Gunsmoke" made Gonzalez Gonzalez one of the most recognizable Mexican-American actors at the time.

Because he often played sterotypical roles, had a heavy accent and frequently served as comic relief, Gonzalez Gonzalez was criticized in later years as perpetuating negative Latino images.

But his grandson said Gonzalez Gonzalez took what roles were available.

The early end to his education meant he never learned to read or write. Collins said his grandfather memorized lines by having his wife read to him, and that if a script changed, directors would feed him lines on the set.

Gonzalez Gonzalez, whose name was a traditional combination of his mother's and father's identical surnames, is survived by his wife, Leandra, three children and other descendants.