Victor Argo, a veteran character actor, died on April 7 of lung cancer. He was 69.
Born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents as Víctor Jiménez, he changed his last name in the mid-1960s to gain access to more acting opportunities. As he auditioned for parts, Argo sold jewelry, drove a cab and worked as a printer.
Argo began his dramatic career on stage, taking roles in regional theater and off-Broadway productions. He moved to Nashville and briefly attempted to launch a career as a guitarist and country singer, but acting proved more lucrative.
Over the next four decades, Argo played a wide array of small parts in more than 70 films. He worked with director Martin Scorsese in “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver” and “The Last Temptation of Christ.” Woody Allen directed him in “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Shadows and Fog.” He also made guest appearances on the TV shows “Kojak,” “Miami Vice” and “Law & Order.”
Last year, Argo returned to the stage as the owner of a cigar factory in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Anna in the Tropics.” The Broadway show ended its run in February. His final film, “Luster,” will be released in Aug. 2005.
April 10, 2004 by
Victor Argo, a veteran character actor, died on April 7 of lung cancer. He was 69.
Vic was a real New Yorker who was hard on the outside but a softy on the inside. He befriended me and after a short time we were real friends he encuoraged me to go on stage. I’ll never forget him. God Bless his Soul.
I worked with with Vic once on a small movie shot on DV in jersey. We didn’t have a scene together but Vic watched my rehearsal. He paid me a genorous complement which meant the world to me. While he sipped Remi from a dixie cup we spent the van ride back to the city talking country music. Like Vic ,I’m a native of NYC and I live for the country blues. The last time I saw him was at a party after newyears. An industry type sort of snubbed me infront of Vic and he stood up for me. “This guy’s a great actor.” He said. He didn’t have to do that. Generous and beautiful. A NYC icon. My life is eternaly richer for having known the man.
Victor played my Father in my first film, Men Lie. Always the gentleman, he was giving, understanding and went out his way to make me comfortable when he didn’t have to. New York and the world will miss him.
I met Victor several years ago. He was always a gentleman and very kind to me. He went out of his way to help me on several occaisions and I have always been extremely grateful for that. He was also an amazing actor. He will be missed.
victor argo was a close personal friend of my parents. they worked on a couple films with him, but knew him very personally, i remember how fun it always was when he would come over to my house. i remember the last time i saw him was in cuba at a film festival. he was coincidently staying in the same hotel as us, and the whole trip was made even better because he was there. thanks victor, i will always remember you.
I worked on an independant film in 87′ “The Electric Chair” with Vic in Bayonne, NJ. He was a real nice guy and real talented. It was (basically) a one-man movie, i was just the drummer. He will be missed! – I remember Vic telling us a story about being on a Saturday morning show about a Caveman family. They were shooting in Death Valley, over 100
I ran into Mr. Argo last year at a performance of Hank Williams:Lost Highway on Broadway. Having worked on Bad Lieutenant, I knew him slightly, but knew he didn’t recognize me. Nonetheless, he chatted me up amicably about country music, upcoming projects, and Abel Ferrara sightings…
As always, his demeanor was gruff but warm. What I remember about him most was his dedication to the craft, getting way inside his character, even for a small role. RIP
I had the good fortune of working with Vic in what I believe is his last on-screen performance in the film “Confessions of a Dangerous Mime,” which I wrote and directed. I met Vic about a year and a half ago at a film festival in New York where my last film was screening. He didn’t know me from a hole in the wall, but I was a big fan of his. I asked him if I could send him the script to my next film – I had written a part that I thought he would be great in, and he said “send it.” He read it, liked it and got back to me one week later agreeing to be in the film. The film just premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival last month, two weeks after his death, and his performance is just phenomenal. He was a tremendous actor with talent to burn, and he brought so much to my little film. I will be forever grateful to him for giving a nobody like me a shot. I learned so much from him in the time we worked together, and I will miss him a great deal. Thanks Victor.
When Vic was doing a workshop of David Rabe’s then-new play THE DOG PROBLEM up at Williamstown, he and I and our friends Tom Cappadona and Pam Wilterdink went swimming at this little public pool. While we were all bobbing in the water, Vic asked us if we were floaters or sinkers. We didn’t know and he elaborated that when he was in the Navy, he learned there were basically two types of people: floaters and sinkers. “You let all the air out of your lungs and you either float or you sink.”
I exhaled and let myself sink, but I soon bobbed to the top of the water. “I’m a floater,” I said. Vic gave me his infamous hag eye: “Did you let out ALL your air?” No, of course I didn’t– it’s a scary thing to do and I guess I kind of cheated a little. So without another word being said, I tried it again, I blew all the air out of my lungs and let myself sink… and sink and sink until I came to rest on the bottom of the pool. Turns out I was a sinker.
The moral of the story isn’t that it’s better to be a sinker or a floater, but that you can only find out who you really are by giving it all you’ve got… or in this case, giving it all away. Victor Argo was an immensely generous man, generous with his patience, his time and with what little money he had. I think of him every day.
WE MET VICTOR IN DOOBS FERRY NY WHEN HE WOULD COME AND VISIT HIS PARENTS IN ST CABRINI NURSING HOME.HE INVITED US TO THE OPENING OF THE MOVIE SMOKE IN NYC& WE WENT TO THE KNITTING FACTORY AFTER THE MOVIE.HE WAS A WONDERFUL FRIEND&WONDERFUL PERSON.GOD BLESS HIM.
I worked with Victor, not as an actor but on his computer. I’m a computer tech. We met at the supermarket one afternoon and he called me to help him with his PC. He mentioned that one of his friends gave him the computer. I asked who? He said Harvey Keitel. He was a nice guy. We spoke some time after that on the phone. I mailed him a card in September just to stay in touch but it was returned to me. I figured something was wrong. After doing a search on the web I got the details of his passing. I’m sorry to hear of it.
I just finished watching “Her Alibi” staring Tom Selleck as well as Victor Argo. I began to remember all the characters Victor played throughout his career. I have not seen him in anything recently (I thought he passed), checking imdb.com confirmed my thoughts. Never a lead (to my knowledge) but a very excellent character actor. His range was wide and his performances grand. I will miss his fine performances.
Victor is my Dad’s cousin and a beloved member of our family. I am very proud to have had him in my family. It gives me great comfort to see that he was loved by all. Victor was the star of our family (even in Quebradillas, PR where our family is originally from). I have many fond memories of him. My earliest was when I would sit on his lap and he’d sing me songs. He had such a comforting voice.I looked up to him and wanted to be an actress. When I told him about it, he went and bought me books on acting and monologues. He was a very giving man.
He was a hard worker. He lived and loved his work. When he passed I was very saddened but knew that he got to live a life that most people only dream of. He didn’t compromise himself.
I feel sad now when I see him on the screen. I wish I had the chance to say good bye. I miss him and hope that I can pass onto my children his amazing legacy. Thank you for having this site. It has been nice to read encounters that he had with others and the lasting impressions he left.
I knew Victor best in my twenties – thirty years ago! We met in California where I live now. When he returned to New York, we remained friends and spoke often on the telephone. We lost touch and I had mail returned too. Only today I learned with huge sadness of his death 2 years ago. Yes, Victor was a dear, amazing and generous man. I remember when he took me to Rosarita Beach in Baja, Mexico and I have such fond memories of that time. When I visited New York, Victor would take me to some wonderful Cuban restaurants which sold his favourite cigars. I played at being an actress for a couple of years and Victor supported my endeavours and taught me much. In the end, I returned to school and became an attorney. I am so sorry I didn’t say goodbye to him. Victor Argo is one of the people in my life I remember with love and affection.
Sweet the roses,
Sweet the memories,
Sweet the fragrance,
of the night air.
From “Sweet the Roses” by Vic Argo
That is what I have left of my dear cousin/friend, sweetness — and that occaisional sardonic and knowing smile.
We lost you 2 years ago today, Vic. But you live in our hearts.
Vic, Barbara gave birth to our son yesterday and we named him Victor, after you.
I remember Victor Argo in King of new york. I went to school with Rayn Perry the son of Steve perry who worked on the leathel weapon films. Victor came over one day and was a very kind and giving man. We dranks cokes and I told him that I wanted to be and actor. He told me it is ruff at first but to stick with it, things would get better. They did, it wasn’t untill six years later that I was on the IMDB when I found out that he passed away from lung cancer. I knew and now heaven knows Victor Argo, rest in the arms of God my friend
I did not know Mr. Argo personally but have admired him in his films for decades. Just saw King of NY again after many years and was very moved by his performance, one in which he barely said a word but conveyed so much emotion and intelligence. Shocked and saddened to discover he had passed away. I will miss him as an artist and as someone I wish I could have known. Descanse en paz, senor Argo.