The Pope of Broadway

Historical Background

Eloy Torrez, 1984. 70'h x 55'w. 242 S. Broadway.
Anthony Quinn (born Quinones) is a much beloved figure in the city's Hispanic community. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1916, he moved at age six with his family to East Los Angeles. After graduating from Polytechnic High School (now Trade Tech), he performed in local theaters, including the nearby Million Dollar Theater. Later, Quinn appeared in Broadway shows before becoming a well known and highly regarded movie actor. Beginning with a small role as a Cheyenne warrior in the 1936 movie, "The Plainsman," Quinn appeared in nearly 150 films. During his long career, he won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor in "Viva Zapata" in 1952 and "Lust for Life" in 1956. In addition, he was nominated for Best Actor Oscars for his roles in "Wild is the Wind" in 1957 and "Zorba the Greek" in 1964. Although Quinn is an international star, he has not forgotten his roots. In 1983, he donated his personal papers to the Los Angeles County Library, which maintains them at the Anthony Quinn branch located on the site of his childhood home.

Eloy Torrez portrays Anthony Quinn as a Christian icon. With outstretched arms, slightly bent knees and head tilted to one side, Quinn has the traditional posture of Jesus on the cross. Torrez felt the small enclosed parking lot next to the wall creates a secluded, church-like setting to view the mural. The religious content is reinforced by crosses under Quinn's arms. These crosses are painted in arched doors which mirror the design of the door in the north entrance to the Bradbury Building located across Third Street. The arches in the doors under Quinn's arms continue the curved rhythm of the horse depicted in Frank Romero's adjacent mural. Quinn stands on a floor that replicates the pattern and design of the floor in the Bradbury Building.(1) Torrez, like Romero, designed the Victor Clothing sign that store owner Paul Harter required, to recall the store's 1940s neon sign. However, in contrast to Romero, Torrez did not use a third of the wall for the advertisement and he put the sign in the background rather than giving it equal billing with the mural.

Torrez contacted Harter after learning that Harter was interested in having a mural at Victor Clothing. When they met, Torrez mentioned that he initially planned to include Quinn in his 1983 mural "Legends of Hollywood". Harter indicated that he wanted Quinn painted at the Victor Clothing building because of Quinn's past connections with the nearby Million Dollar Theater. Torrez then prepared a design for the mural, which Harter approved.

Torrez used two techniques to paint the mural. He painted Quinn by adopting the method Kent Twitchell developed with "Bride and Groom". A cartoon was prepared, and slides of the cartoon were then projected on sheets of paper taped to a wall. Lines projected on the paper were drawn on the sheet and spaces between the lines were color coded. Torrez applied graphite to the back of the paper sheets and taped them to the wall at Victor Clothing. Finally, he pressed the lines and color codes into the wall and then painted by the numbers. The second technique Torrez used--enlarging the sections of a grid placed over a cartoon of the work--was applied to the background and floor in the rest of the mural.(2)


1 Interview of Eloy Torrez by Michael Several, May 22, 1985.

2 Ibid.

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, February 1999.

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