Juano’s film career started in 1914 with first role, albeit uncredited, in the silent film The Life of General Villa where he brought to life the character of a revolutionary soldier. But it wasn’t until his role as Gomez in The Girl from Chicago made by African-American author, director and producer Oscar Micheaux in 1932 that he appeared in his first “talkie” film. In 1949, Juano landed his first mainstream film role as Lucas Beauchamp in Intruder in the Dust, based on William Faulkner’s book, opposite David Brian and Claude Jarman Jr. In the film that saw him land his only Golden Globe nomination, he portrays a Mississippi farmer who is unjustly accused of the murder of a white man. The New York Times named it one of the ten best films of the year and William (the author of the book) said, “That Juano Hernández is a fine actor—and man, too.”
Throughout his 50-year career, Juano racked up a total of 36 TV and film credits, two nominations and garnered the respect of actors both past and present. In the last three years of his lengthy career, Juano appeared in 1969’s The Extraordinary Seaman opposite David Niven; 1969’s The Reivers opposite Steve McQueen; and 1970’s They Call Me Mister Tibbs! opposite Sidney Poitier.
Toward the end of his career and life, he returned to his native Puerto Rico and began writing a script based on the life of the country’s first boxing champion, Sixto Escobar, alongside Julio Torregrosa. Although he wasn’t able to proceed with the film in Puerto Rico, he was able to switch gears (translate it) and began shopping around the script in Hollywood. The film was close to being sold to a studio at the time of his death on July 17, 1970, two days before his 74th birthday. On March 16, 2017, Juano’s grandchildren received the honoree star for their late grandfather at Paseo de la Fama (aka The Walk of Fame) in San Juan.
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