He was the first Hispanic actor to win an Academy Award… And, now José Ferrer is getting the stamp of approval as a “distinguished American.”
The life and accomplishments of the Puerto Rican actor, director, writer, musician and producer—who died in 1992 at the age of 80—have been commemorated on a First-Class Forever stamp by the U.S. Postal Service as part of its Distinguished Americans stamp series.
The portrait featured on the stamp is an oil painting by Daniel Adel of Cold Spring, NY, based on a photograph of Ferrer under the art direction of Antonio Alcala of Alexandria, VA, who designed the stamp.
Ferrer—whose career spanned the worlds of theater, film, television and music—is considered to be one of the most accomplished talents of his generation. Along with being the first Latino to win an Oscar, Ferrer won several Tony Awards for his work on the Broadway stage and performed in more than 60 movies.
Arguably his most famous role was that of Cyrano de Bergerac for which he won both a Tony Award for Best Actor (1947) and the Oscar for Best Actor (1950) for his film portrayal of the same role. He remains one of the few actors to ever win both awards for playing the same character on stage and on film.
“Today, the Postal Service is pleased and proud to bestow upon Jose Ferrer — a groundbreaking Latino movie, theater and television performer and the first Puerto Rican actor to succeed in Hollywood — a new commemorative Forever stamp,” said Marie Therese Dominguez, vice president, Government Relations and Public Policy for the U.S. Postal Service. “Throughout an acting career that spanned more than half a century, Ferrer played a wide range of roles on both Broadway and on the silver screen. His accomplishments extended to many other genres of entertainment. He acted on radio, performed as an opera singer; co-authored a libretto and was a composer. And, as if all this weren’t enough, Ferrer wrote for theater and television, and directed and produced numerous plays, both on and off Broadway.”
Ferrer’s family moved from Puerto Rico to New York City when he was six. Always an excellent student, he passed the Princeton University entrance exam at age 15, but was considered too young to attend and spent a year in a boarding school in Switzerland. He entered Princeton at age 16 and graduated with the class of 1933. He conducted postgraduate work at Columbia University with the intention of becoming a language teacher. However, he had discovered his love of acting while in college, and in 1935, made his first appearance on Broadway, a one-line part in the play, A Slight Case of Murder.