Renaissance Man: Fernando Lamas
Cinco de Mayo is upon us, and if there’s one thing that this Irish/German-descended writer from Connecticut who lives in the Greek section of Queens knows, it’s how to celebrate Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo like a champ. First, you frantically Wikipedia it, and when panic sets in that a 15-minute read-through won’t translate any kind of authenticity into your work, you realize there’s only one thing to do: emulate someone who would truly be a Cinco de May-Pro (eh? eh?). And that man? Is Fernando Lamas.
Now, because contemporary attention spans are mere milliseconds long, I think we can all agree that Rey Mysterio was the best wrestler. What? Oh! Right. What I meant was, due to our attention spans that are in a shrinking race against our aging libidos, many of us have no clue who Fernando Lamas is. Well don’t worry children, because today, Man Cave Daily is gonna learn ya somethin’ fierce.
He was an actor. But, to call Fernando Lamas “just an actor” is to do him a disservice. He was perhaps the most suave gentleman to have ever walked the earth. He was a Man with a capital “M”, from an era where being a man wasn’t just about eating contests and football games. And he was just about as handsome a fella as you could ever imagine. Even his name sounds like that of an international man of intrigue. Go on, say it out loud! “Fernando Lamassssssssssss.” Really draw out that “s.” Are you saying it with a noticeable Latin American accent? We didn’t tell you to do that. That’s kinda racist. But in this case, also true. He did talk like that.
How much of a perfect human specimen was he? Well. In our opinion…
His Movie Titles Were More Badass Than Samuel L. Jackson’s
Typically, you can judge the bad-assery of a man by the movies he stars in, like Vin Diesel’s Biceps 3: Triceps or Samuel L. Jackson’s Swearing Old Man Gets Eaten By a Shark, which based on the title alone, is kind of like our generation’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Jason Statham would have made this list, too, but he’s disqualified since all of his movies are documentaries.
But Lamas has them all beat, despite coming from an era where movie titles weren’t so over the top. In fact, his films all have a subtle edge that make them all kinds of intriguing, such as The Story of a Bad Woman, The Unknown Father, The Law and The Lady, The Merry Widow, and Dangerous When Wet. You’ll also notice that these all double as porn titles (which they damn near were. More on that later). But our personal favorite? In 1950, Lamas starred in The Avengers as Esteban Rogario, a.k.a El Capitan Argentina!*
*Absolutely not true.
But that’s not all! There was also The Violent Ones, 100 Rifles, Kill a Dragon…the list goes on and on.
A Bigger Sexual Dynamo than Don Draper
Which makes sense, because he kind of looks like him, right? Difference being, Lamas wasn’t the secretly sad, emotionally tormented brand of lothario who needed to handplow the closest female neighbor for some kind of weird emotional relief. No no. He was just a smooth gentleman who appreciated the art and loveliness of a beautiful woman. Or, rather, women.
Rumors abound that Lamas had a fling with just about every female co-star he worked with, including big time names like Lana Turner. He was married four times (including two women who he apparently, quote, “left behind” in Argentina). And, he worked with Elizabeth “Eighth Time’s a Charm” Taylor, who, while we don’t have any concrete evidence that they played a game of hide the tattoo, you know. Come on. That’s not a big jump of logic.
But, there is perhaps no better illustration of Lamas’s smooth swagger than this here story. As it turns out, there were a few rumors that he was actually gay. Now, these days, if a person who was not gay was confused with someone who was, that person might say something like, “Ah, I’m afraid you must be mistaken.” But not Lamas, and not the 1950s. He found the gentlemen responsible for spreading said rumor, and promptly slept with their wives, which is pretty much the most ironclad alibi ever.
Speaking of which…
More Quotable than Oscar Wilde
Not only was Lamas a smooth customer with a warm, Latin voice. He also had a quick wit to match. Once, while visiting the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson was giving Lamas grief about his accent. Now, if Johnny Carson hit any of us with a light jab like that, we’d chuckle at the joke, thank Johnny for the opportunity to be razzed by the greatest, and the promptly scream about how the ghost of Johnny Carson making fun of our voices.
Not Lamas. He looked at Carson and coolly said:
“When a person has an accent, it means he can speak one more language than you.”
Wh-HOW DO YOU COME BACK FROM THAT!? Message received: do not impugn Fernando Lamas.
You’ve heard other Lamas quotes, too. You just might not recognize them. He’s also famous for saying “It’s better to look good than to feel good” (which is either motivational or depressing, depending on your mood) and, of course, he used to greet old friends by exclaiming the eminently repeatable “You look marvelous!”
If that sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. Fernando Lamas was the inspiration behind Billy Crystal’s “Fernando” character. (Really stretched for that one, huh Billy?) Of course, Billy Crystal playing a smooth beast like Lamas is like a pet gerbil with arthritis mimicking the family cat.
More Random Talents than Bruce Dickinson
Here at Man Cave Daily, we love Bruce Dickinson. He’s the lead singer of Iron Maiden, as well as a commercial airline pilot and radio host. And while that’s all pretty impressive, he’s got nothing on Fernando Lamas.
Growing up, Lamas studied acting for awhile. Then law. Then, on a lark, he abandoned all that in order to start riding horses, boxing, and fencing, winning oodles of trophies in each sport, including an amateur title for boxing. To cool off from all that strenuous activity, Lamas then took a dip in the pool…whereby he became the South American Freestyle Swimming Champion of 1937. We like to think that by “freestyle,” they meant he asked the water to move out of the way with a polite-yet-steely tone, and then he danced on its surface to the finish line, where Lolita Torres lustily awaited him.
More Interesting than the Most Interesting Man in the World
You’re all familiar with Dos Equis’s The Most Interesting Man in the World. But we submit that Fernando Lamas was even more interesting. Not only because he’s, you know, really real, and actually did all that amazing stuff like sword fighting and swimming trophies and wit-battling Johnny Carson. But because of this next story.
Fernando Lamas tragically left us at 67, no thanks to that bastard pancreatic cancer. His ashes were scattered at sea. Who did he trust this task to? Not his son Lorenzo (oh yeah! He’s Lorenzo Lamas’s dad. Isn’t that neat?) But no, not him. The task of sending Fernando Lamas to the other side was trusted to his best friend and sailing buddy, Jonathan Goldsmith. You might recognize him, come to think of it. Here’s a recent picture:
TWIST ENDING! Yep. The Most Interesting Man in the World is played by Lamas’s best friend. And with every commercial, where you and I see a series of hysterical clips of an extraordinarily life, Jonathan Goldsmith is merely keeping alive the memory of his long lost buddy.
The lesson here? Don’t wait — grab life by the horns and live it how Fernando Lamas would have: with good friends, a quick wit, a beautiful person on your arm, and laughing louder than everyone else. Do it right now. Today!
Happy Dos de Mayo, everyone.
Brian Cullen really, really enjoys robots but doesn’t understand how they work. He also enjoys drinking beers, and has a pretty solid understanding of how that works. You can read about his musings about both on Twitter @BucketCullen.