AKA Ruben Blades Jr.
Birthplace: Panama City, Panama
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor, Singer
Executive summary: Panamanian superstar of salsa and screen
Ruben Blades was a salsa prodigy, and a pioneer in the Nueva Cancion (New Song) movement. He recorded his first album at 18, in 1966. He became famous for writing politically-charged lyrics and sophisticated musical arrangements, long before he became an actor.
Blades grew up in a working-class neighborhood of Panama City. His parents were both musicians, and Blades grew up with a fondness for both salsa and rock'n'roll. When he was 16, students tried to raise a high school's Panamanian flag to the same height as the American flag. Police were called, and 21 Panamanians were killed in the subsequent riots, before their nation's flag was again lowered. Blades, witnessing all this, became involved in subsequent protests, and has been politically active ever since. "They turned friends into enemies," he says. "Even today, that's the pity of U.S. policy in Latin America."
In 1974 he moved to the United States, and soon found work with a New York record company -- in their mailroom. Eventually, of course, Blades' music was recorded in America, and several enormously popular and ground-breaking salsa albums made him an international star.
His film debut was in 1983, in The Last Fight, playing a boxer who sang. He co-scripted, starred, and composed the score for Crossover Dreams in 1985, and in 1988 he stole Robert Redford's Milagro Beanfield War. He has been a successful film and television actor since, and a frequent composer and songwriter for films.
He also has two law degrees, and ran for President of Panama in 1994 on the ticket of the Papa Egoro political party, which Blades co-founded. He finished in third place, with about 20% of the vote. In 2004, he was appointed as Panama's Minister of Tourism, and in his spare time he is a social activist for worldwide human rights.
Blades' grandfather was among the thousands of Panamanian workers who built the Panama Canal.
Father: Rubén Blades Sr. (percussion player)
Mother: Anoland Bellido de Luna (piano player, radio soap opera actress)
Wife: Lisa Lebenzon (m. 1987, div.)
University: University of Panama
Law School: Harvard Law School
Grammy for album Encenas
Gideon's Crossing Dr. Max Cabranes (2000-01)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Counselor (25-Oct-2013)
For Greater Glory (20-Apr-2012)
Safe House (2-Feb-2012) · Carlos Villar
Spoken Word (1-Mar-2009) · Senior
Secuestro Express (5-Aug-2005) · Carla's Father
Spin (8-Nov-2003) · Ernesto
Imagining Argentina (12-Sep-2003)
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (27-Aug-2003) · Jorge FBI
The Maldonado Miracle (20-Jan-2003)
Assassination Tango (11-Sep-2002) · Miguel
All the Pretty Horses (11-Dec-2000) · Rocha
Cradle Will Rock (18-May-1999)
Chinese Box (4-Sep-1997)
The Devil's Own (13-Mar-1997) · Edwin Diaz
Scorpion Spring (10-Oct-1996)
Color of Night (19-Aug-1994)
A Million to Juan (15-May-1994)
The Super (4-Oct-1991)
Crazy from the Heart (19-Aug-1991)
One Man's War (20-Apr-1991)
The Josephine Baker Story (16-Mar-1991)
Predator 2 (21-Nov-1990) · Danny
The Lemon Sisters (31-Aug-1990)
The Two Jakes (10-Aug-1990) · Mickey Nice
Mo Better Blues (3-Aug-1990) · Petey
Disorganized Crime (14-Apr-1989)
Dead Man Out (12-Mar-1989)
Homeboy (24-Aug-1988) · Doctor
The Milagro Beanfield War (18-Mar-1988) · Sheriff Bernabe Montoya
Fatal Beauty (30-Oct-1987) · Carl Jimenez
Critical Condition (16-Jan-1987)
Crossover Dreams (29-Mar-1985)
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