According to Joseph McBride's Searching for John Ford (St. Martin's Press, 2001 - ISBN 0312242328), director John Ford was urged to cast Richard Boone and Quinn as the Little Wolf and Dull Knife characters in Cheyenne Autumn (1964), as both allegedly had Native American blood. Ricardo Montalban and Gilbert Roland, who were of Mexican descent, were cast instead.
Appeared in more movies with other Oscar-winning actors than any other Oscar-winning actor - a total of 46 Oscar-winning co-stars (28 male, 18 female).
Around 1972 he announced his desire to play Henry Cristophe, the 19th-century emperor of Haiti. Upon this announcement, several prominent black actors, including Ossie Davis and Ellen Holly, stated that they were opposed to a "white man" playing "black." Davis stated, "My black children need black heroes on which to model their behavior. Henry Cristophe is an authentic black hero. Tony, for all my admiration of him as a talent, will do himself and my children a great disservice if he encourages them to believe that only a white man, and Tony is white to my children, is capable of playing a black hero".
Became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1947, just before he was "gray-listed" for his association with Communists such as screenwriter John Howard Lawson and what were termed "fellow travelers", though he himself was never called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. When warned of his gray-listing by 20th Century-Fox boss Darryl F. Zanuck (a liberal), Quinn decided to go on the Broadway stage where there was no blacklist rather than go through the process of refuting the suspicions.
Before he launched his acting career Quinn worked odd jobs as a butcher, a boxer, street corner preacher and a slaughterhouse worker. He also won a scholarship to study architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, with whom he developed a close relationship.
Brother-in-law of screenwriter Martin Goldsmith.
Donated blood to John Barrymore whenever the older actor needed a transfusion.
For The Magus (1968) he had to shave his hair. He had an insurance policy against the risk that it might not grow back!
For extra cash he entered dance contest, from which he sold the statues.
He did not get along well with his first father-in-law, legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille, though they later developed a civil relationship.
He had 5 children, Christopher Quinn (born 1939 - died 1941), Christina Quinn (born December 1, 1941), Catalina Quinn (born November 21, 1942), Duncan Quinn (born August 4, 1945) and Valentina Quinn (born December 26, 1952), with Katherine DeMille. He had 3 children, Francesco Quinn (born March 22, 1963 - died August 5, 2011), Danny Quinn (born April 16, 1964) and Lorenzo Quinn (born May 7, 1966), with Jolanda Addolori. He had 2 children, Sean Quinn (born February 7, 1973) and Alex A. Quinn (born December 30, 1976), with Friedel Dunbar and he had 2 children, Antonia Quinn (born July 23, 1993) and Ryan Quinn (born July 5, 1996), with Kathy Benvin.
He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1915, during the Mexican revolution, in which his father was a soldier in the army of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. After the revolution the family moved to Los Angeles, CA, where Quinn's father eventually secured a job as a cameraman at Selig Film Studios. Quinn often accompanied his father to work, and became acquainted with such stars as Tom Mix and, John Barrymore, with whom he kept up the friendship into adulthood.
He was one of the few actors to move easily and successfully between starring and supporting roles throughout his career. In both categories, the Irish-Mexican Quinn played a vast array of characters and ethnicities, including American, Arab, Basque, Chinese, English, French, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hun, Irish, Italian, Mexican, Mongol, Native American, Filipino, Portuguese, Spaniard and Ukranian.
Lived in Bristol, RI, and befriended Providence's controversial mayor Buddy Cianci.
Played in the band of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson as a youth and as a deputy preacher.
Sidelines: painting and sculpting.
Son of an Irish father and Mexican mother, he grew up in the barrio of East L.A. shining shoes and selling newspapers.
Took acting class from Michael Chekhov in Hollywood.
Underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery in February 1990.