Henry Silva, ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ Star, Dead at 95

by Craig Garrett

Henry Silva, a tough guy actor who appeared in Ocean’s 11 and The Manchurian Candidate, has died at age 95. Silva died of natural causes, according to his son Scott, who informed The Hollywood Reporter. He was found dead at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.

In 1960’s Ocean’s 11, Silva appeared as a casino thief alongside Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas. In addition, he worked with Sinatra on three additional projects. He later starred in 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven remake as a boxing fan. In 1962, he was menacing as the deadly Korean spy/ manservant Chunjin in John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, also alongside Sinatra. In 1963, Silva played Johnny Cool, the titular role, in a film with members of the Rat Pack including Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Deana Martin, the daughter of actor Dean Martin, took to Twitter to express her sadness. “Our hearts are broken at the loss of our dear friend Henry Silva, one of the nicest, kindest and most talented men I’ve had the pleasure of calling my friend,” she wrote. She noted that Silva was “the last surviving star of the original Oceans 11 Movie. We love you Henry, you will be missed.”

Henry Silva racked up over 130 acting credits

Eventually, he made dozens of movies in Europe. These films were most notably in the Italian “poliziotteschi” (police/crime films) genre. In a 1971 interview, Silva revealed why he enjoyed making films there.“Funny thing, over here they see me as a bad guy. In Europe, they see me as a hero.” Silva’s success in Europe can be partially attributed to his fluency in Italian and Spanish.

Henry Silva was born in Brooklyn on September 15, 1926, and raised in Harlem as the only son of Sicilian and Spanish parents. Silva has spoken about how his childhood growing up in Spanish Harlem gave him the experience he needed to convincingly play a villain for much of his acting career. “I saw a lot of things in Harlem,” he told reporter Diane Haithman in 1985, according to Variety“It was the kind of place where if you lived on one block and you wanted to go a few blocks away, you had to take a couple of guys with you, or else you would get your ass kicked.”

Henry Silva has over 130 credits as an actor. Some other films include The Return of Mr. Moto, The Italian Connection, The Boss, and Weapons of Death. He also starred as the villain in the Chuck Norris favorite, 1985’s Code of Death. Silva guest starred in classic tv series such as Hawaii Five-O, Mission: Impossible, and The Outer Limits.

In the 1990s, Henry Silva left a mark on another generation of fans. He starred as the gangster Influence in 1990’s Dick Tracy. Silva also tried his hand at voice acting. He voiced the iconic Batman villain Bane in Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series.