Ruben Blades

Actor, Singer, Composer
A self-styled renaissance man who has made a significant contribution to salsa with his socially conscious lyrics, Panamanian-born Ruben Blades has also enjoyed a successful career as a screen actor and, in his native ... Read more »
Born: 07/15/1948 in Panama

Filmography

Actor (63)

Fear The Walking Dead 2000 - 2001, 2014 - 2015 (Tv Show)

Actor

The X-Files 1996 - 1997, 2000 - 2001, 2014 - 2015 (Tv Show)

Actor

Hands of Stone 2014 (Movie)

Carlos Eleta (Actor)

The Counselor 2013 (Movie)

Jefe (Actor)

For Greater Glory 2012 (Movie)

President Plutarco Elias Calles (Actor)

Safe House 2012 (Movie)

Carlos Villar (Actor)

Bad 25 2011 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Spoken Word 2010 (Movie)

Senior (Actor)

Secuestro Express 2005 (Movie)

Sergio (Actor)

Imagining Argentina 2004 (Movie)

Silvio Ayala (Actor)

Spin 2004 (Movie)

Ernesto Bejarano (Actor)

The Maldonado Miracle 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

Assassination Tango 2003 (Movie)

Miguel (Actor)

Once Upon a Time in Mexico 2003 (Movie)

Jorge FBI (Actor)

Resurrection Blvd. 2002 (Tv Show)

Actor

Gideon's Crossing 2000 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Soul Train Christmas Starfest 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

All the Pretty Horses 2000 (Movie)

Rocha (Actor)

Sessions at West 54th 1997 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The 42nd Annual Grammy Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Cradle Will Rock 1999 (Movie)

Diego Rivera (Actor)

Storytime 1993 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Chinese Box 1998 (Movie)

Jim (Actor)

Scorpion Spring 1997 (Movie)

Sam Zaragosa (Actor)

The Devil's Own 1997 (Movie)

Edwin Diaz (Actor)

1995 NCLR Bravo Awards 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Concert of the Americas 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The 37th Annual Grammy Awards 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

A Million to Juan 1994 (Movie)

(Actor)

Color of Night 1994 (Movie)

Martinez (Actor)

In a New Light '93 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Let the Good Times Roll 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The 4th Annual Desi Awards 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

One Man's War 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The Heart of the Deal 1991 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Josephine Baker Story 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The Super 1991 (Movie)

Marlon (Actor)

A Latino Session 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Mo' Better Blues 1990 (Movie)

Stevey (Actor)

Predator 2 1990 (Movie)

Danny (Actor)

The Lemon Sisters 1990 (Movie)

C W (Actor)

The Two Jakes 1990 (Movie)

Mickey Nice (Actor)

Disorganized Crime 1989 (Movie)

Carlos Barrios (Actor)

The 31st Annual Grammy Awards 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

AIDS: Changing the Rules 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Homeboy 1988 (Movie)

Doctor (Actor)

The Milagro Beanfield War 1988 (Movie)

Sheriff Bernabe Montoya (Actor)

The Return of Ruben Blades 1988 (Movie)

(Actor)

Critical Condition 1987 (Movie)

Louis (Actor)

Fatal Beauty 1987 (Movie)

Carl Jimenez (Actor)

The 29th Annual Grammy Awards 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The 28th Annual Grammy Awards 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Crossover Dreams 1985 (Movie)

Rudy Veloz (Actor)

The Last Fight 1982 (Movie)

Andy "Kid" Clave (Actor)

Crazy From the Heart (TV Show)

Actor

Dead Man Out (TV Show)

Actor

Miracle on I-880 (TV Show)

Actor
Music (30)

Empire 2002 (Movie)

("Plastico") (Song Performer)

Empire 2002 (Movie)

("Plastico") (Song)

Empire 2002 (Movie)

(Composer)

Dance With Me 1998 (Movie)

("Patria") (Song Performer)

Dance With Me 1998 (Movie)

(Song)

Gladiator 1992 (Movie)

("Da Me La (Fama)") (Song)

Q&A 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

The Best of Cinemax Sessions 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Song Performer

Chances Are 1989 (Movie)

("Nuestro Adios") (Song Performer)

Chances Are 1989 (Movie)

(Song)

Do the Right Thing 1989 (Movie)

(Song)

Do the Right Thing 1989 (Movie)

("Tu y Yo") (Song Performer)

True Believer 1989 (Movie)

("La Marea") (Song Performer)

True Believer 1989 (Movie)

(Song)

Coverup: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair 1988 (Movie)

(Theme Song Performer)

Coverup: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair 1988 (Movie)

(Theme Song)

Gryphon 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Music

The Return of Ruben Blades 1988 (Movie)

(Music)

The Return of Ruben Blades 1988 (Movie)

("Buscando America" "Pedro Navaja") (Performer)

The Story of Fausta 1988 (Movie)

(Music)

The Believers 1987 (Movie)

("El Nacimiento de Ramiro") (Song Performer)

El Hijo de Pedro Navajas 1986 (Movie)

From Song("Pedro Navajas") (Song)

Por los Caminos Verdes 1986 (Movie)

(Music)

Crossover Dreams 1985 (Movie)

("Good For Baby" "Sin Fe" "Liz's Theme" "Todos Yuelven") (Song Performer)

Crossover Dreams 1985 (Movie)

songs("Good For Baby" "Liz's Theme") (Song)

Crossover Dreams 1985 (Movie)

(Music)

Beat Street 1984 (Movie)

(Performer)

Beat Street 1984 (Movie)

(Music)

The Last Fight 1982 (Movie)

(Song)

When the Mountains Tremble 1982 (Movie)

(Music)
Writer (1)

Crossover Dreams 1985 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Biography

A self-styled renaissance man who has made a significant contribution to salsa with his socially conscious lyrics, Panamanian-born Ruben Blades has also enjoyed a successful career as a screen actor and, in his native country, founded the political party Papa Egora, running and placing third in the 1994 presidential election. After obtaining a law degree in Panama, he moved to the USA in 1974, staying temporarily with his exiled parents in Miami before moving to NYC where he was soon working with salseros Ray Barretto and Larry Harlow. A collaboration with trombonist and band leader Willie Colon followed, and their 1978 album "Siembra" became the best-selling salsa record in history. He branched into movies with the mediocre melodrama "The Last Fight" (1983), writing the title song as well as portraying a singer-turned-boxer vying for a championship. He also penned his first musical score for a film that year for "When Mountains Tremble".

Blades gained widespread recognition in 1985 as co-writer and star of the independent "Crossover Dreams" (1985), exhibiting real screen presence as a New York salsa singer willing to do anything to break into the mainstream. He was also the subject of Robert Mugge's fascinating music documentary "The Return of Ruben Blades", which debuted at that year's Denver Film Festival. After finding himself in two 1987 stinkers, "Critical Condition" (with Richard Pryor) and "Fatal Beauty" (with Whoopi Goldberg), Blades rebounded nicely with Robert Redford's "The Milagro Beanfield War" (1988), playing the modern-day New Mexico sheriff of the charming, fanciful fable. He wrote the song "Tu y Yo" for Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and reteamed with Lee the following year as the hard-nosed bookie of "Mo' Better Blues". The banner year also saw him act in the "Chinatown" sequel "The Two Jakes" (directed by and starring Jack Nicholson), "The Lemmon Sisters" (starring Diane Keaton) and "Predator 2" (with Danny Glover and Gary Busey), in addition to scoring Sidney Lumet's "Q & A".

On the small screen, Blades has delivered impressive performances in a number of cable movies beginning with his turn as a Death Row inmate in HBO's "Dead Man Out", his first collaboration with Glover. Though "One Man's War" (HBO, 1991) gave him the opportunity to act with the venerable Anthony Hopkins, the well-intentioned script about repression in Paraguay failed to rise to the level of more compelling, similarly-themed films. He fared better as Pepita Abatino, the Sicilian born gigolo who groomed Joseph Baker for stardom, in that year's "The Josephine Baker Story" (HBO), garnering an Emmy nomination for his efforts, and earned praise (and a second Emmy nod) as a Mexican janitor who romances Christine Lahti in "Crazy From the Heart" (TNT, 1991). He also starred as Pastor Beruman whose wife is on the freeway with their two young children in "Miracle on I-880" (NBC, 1993), a routine dramatization of the 1989 Oakland earthquake.

"The Super" (1991) cast Blades opposite Joe Pesci as a crafty street hustler who gradually gets the slum landlord more attuned to the needs of his struggling tenants, and the erotic thriller "Color of Night" (1994), starring Bruce Willis, offered him as an abrasively funny police detective. Ever mindful of his onscreen image, he has stated that he tries to avoid stereotypical roles and looks for films that balance the Latino-as-bad-guy with a positive portrayal. He found such a role as Harrison Ford's partner in the muddled thriller "The Devil's Own" (1997), one of his first films after his unsuccessful 1994 bid to become Panama's president. His worldwide recognition as a champion of the Nueva Cancion (New Song) movement of salsa that brought substance to what was formerly viewed as simply dance music was not enough to sway the voters of his homeland, many unable to regard him as a serious candidate because his career required so much time outside the country.

In 1997, Blades headed the cast of composer Paul Simon's first Broadway musical, "The Capeman", based on a true story about a murderous youth who becomes a poet in prison. In interviews, he has stated that he believes his biggest mistake was releasing an English-language album in 1988, just because everyone thought he should in the wake of his 1987 Grammy win for "Escenas"--a trap he sees younger singers like his "Capeman" co-star Marc Anthony falling into. Staying true to his musical vision and defying convention in nearly every way, he earned his fourth Grammy for "Tiempos" (1999), his first album with the 12-piece Costa Rican band Editus and one in marked contrast to the commercial trend of Latin music. For someone who has played his share of policemen, Blades relished his role as Mexican artist Diego Rivera in Tim Robbins' "Cradle Will Rock" (also 1999), which pitted his character's communist sensibilities against those of John Cusack's Nelson Rockefeller. He then made his first foray to regular series work with "Gideon's Crossing" (ABC, 2000-01), playing a medical colleague of star Andre Braugher in this new offering from writer-executive producer Paul Attanasio, and also appeared as a rancher in the long-awaited film version of "All the Pretty Horses" (2000), adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy.

Relationships

Ruben Dario Blades Sr

Father
a basketbal star and conga player accused of being a CIA agent by then-Colonel Manuel Noriega, in charge of Panamanian military intelligence, and forced into exile

Anoland Blades

Mother
deceased worked on a radio soap opera born in Cuba

Lisa Lebenzon

Wife
met while attending Harvard married in December 1986 divorced

EDUCATION

University of Panama

1974

University of Panama

1974

Harvard Law School

Cambridge , Massachusetts 1985
specialized in international law(LLM)

Milestones

2012

Appeared in "Safe House" opposite Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds

2009

Acted in the drama "Spoken Word"

2005

Played the father of a kidnapped young woman (Mia Maestro) in the crime drama "Secuestro express"

2003

Featured in Robert Rodriguez's Western thriller "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" opposite Johnny Depp, Salma Hayek, and Antonio Banderas

2000

Acted in Billy Bob Thornton's "All the Pretty Horses", adapted from the best-selling novel by Cormac McCarthey

2000

Co-starred with Andre Braugher on the ABC medical drama "Gideon's Crossing"

1999

Appeared in "Cradle Will Rock" as Mexican artist Diego Rivera

1997

Starred in the Paul Simon-Derek Walcott Broadway musical "The Capeman"; played older incarnation of title character Salvator Agron, who as a teen gang member stabbed to death two NYC teenagers

1997

Made emergency trip to Panama to assume the presidency of the political party Papa Egoro in an effort to rescue it from internal dissent

1997

Played Harrison Ford's police partner in "The Devil's Own"

1997

Brought some mild humor to small role as a photojournalist in Wayne Wang's "The Chinese Box"

1994

Portrayed an abrasively funny L.A. detective in Richard Rush's "Color of Night"

1994

Ran for the presidency of Panama; placed third; first free elections in Panama in a quarter century

1992

Launched the political party Papa Egoro ("Mother Earth") in his native Panama

1992

Garnered second Emmy nomination for leading performance as a janitor romancing Christine Lahti's high school principal in "Crazy From the Heart" (TNT)

1991

Received first Emmy nomination for supporting role of the gigolo who groomed the title character for stardom in the HBO biopic "The Josephine Baker Story", starring Lynn Whitfield

1991

Acted opposite Anthony Hopkins in HBO's "One Man's War," portraying a reluctant attorney who helps Hopkins in his pursuit of justice

1990

Played Stevey in Lee's "Mo' Better Blues"

1990

Reteamed with Glover in "Predator 2"

1990

Composed the score for Sidney Lumet's "Q & A"

1989

Wrote and performed the song "Tu y Yo" in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing"

1989

TV acting debut as a Death Row inmate in "Dead Man Out" (HBO); first collaboration with actor Danny Glover

1988

Portrayed Sheriff Bernabe Montoya in "The Milagro Beanfield War"

1985

Profiled in the documentary "The Return of Ruben Blades"; aired on PBS in 1988

1985

First film as co-screenwriter, "Crossover Dreams"; also starred and composed score

1984

Signed with Elektra records

1983

First film as actor, "The Last Fight" (also wrote songs), directed by and co-starring Fred Williamson; also co-starred Colon

1983

Composed first musical film score for feature "When the Mountains Tremble"

1976

Teamed up with trombonist Willie Colon for a series of albums including Siembra, one of the biggest-selling salsa records

1975

Moved to NYC; rented a tiny apartment on East 61st Street for $175 a month, within walking distance of Fania Records, where he would get a job in the mailroom for $125 a week; sang with salseros Ray Barretto and Larry Harlow (known as 'El Judio Maravillos

1974

Returned to U.S., remaining for a year with parents in Miami, FL

1969

Recorded and released first album in New York, De Panama a Nueva York

1966

Recorded first album with Los Salvajes del Ritmo (The Rhythm Savages)

1964

Student riot against U.S. forces in the Canal Zone awakened his political sensibilities; 21 Panamanians were killed and another 500 wounded; from that point on, stopped singing in English

Went back to Panama to obtain law degree

Grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Carrasquilla in Panama City, Panama

Bonus Trivia

.

On Willie Colon: "Willie is one of the first musicians who traveled from New York to Latin America and received a lot of information from other places. He developed a Pan American message of social awareness, and when he met me he found someone with more fluency in Spanish capable of articulating many ideas. He contributed with his New York street culture, his talent as a producer and an incredible, truly Latino, pure tropical energy. A mixture of prankishness and sense of humor, of virility and feeling. He's extremely sensitive, and one of the most intelligent persons I know."I'm grateful to him because he's the one who gave me the chance to show my music. He was like my artistic godfather, and no record label could say no to my music, because he was behind it at a time when he was the No 1 salsa star in the world." – Blades quoted in The Los Angeles Times, Sept. 12, 1993

.

"People think, 'This guy's arrogant – he wants to go from being a musician to being president.' I went into politics because it is service to your country. I didn't do it because I needed a job. I don't live off politics. You should make your money before you go into politics so you don't steal from the people. It's why I come back here and get a job as an actor or do a concert." – Blades to Robert Dominguez in Daily News, Aug.18, 1994

.

"And the reason why Willie and I became so successful was because Latin music for a long time had been escapist; people listened to it to forget, to be entertained or to dance.""People accepted these songs as relevent. They were not overtly political or ideological. But all of a sudden people in Latin America started to see themselves in these stories. Soon there was a huge explosion of interest, and the reason we sold so many copies of 'Siembra' was because everybody bought it, including people who didn't dance or particularly like salsa." – Blades to Denis Hamill in Daily News, Oct. 12, 1997

.

"Let's see who the hell remembers certain songs that are popular now 50 years from now. I can guarantee you that my songs are going to be remembered, because they were written honestly and with quality. They were not written for an audience of today based on what the people of today want. It was written for all people, at all times, anywhere in the world, and with a desire to make an honest, intelligent product." – Blades quoted in Los Angeles Times, Sept. 8, 1999

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Regarding the disintegration of his political party Papa Egora: "One of the huge, bitter lessons that I learned is that in order for this effort to continue in an efficient way, I have to be in Panama 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But my problem is that I don't support myself through politics, so I needed to work – and work took me out of Panama. And when I was away, people that I had delegated authority to, these people took the opportunity and used it for their own benefit. They dragged the party to the precipice.""All I want to do right now is work, pay my bills. It's not that I'm disappointed. I just try to take one step at a time." – Blades in Daily News, Dec. 5, 1999

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