Sunday, July 11, 2010

Remember Aldo

I was probably 11 when I first became aware of Aldo Sambrell. Burt Reynolds in NAVAJO JOE gave a physically thrilling performance as a man seeking revenge on the gang of scalphunters that murdered his wife and village. The leader of the gang was evil personified and the actor who played the role filled it with chilling conviction. Who was that black-hatted actor? He was billed for that film as Aldo Sambrell. Later on I realized that he was in the three Sergio Leone directed Westerns starring Clint Eastwood - but he never again had quite the high-profile role that he had in NAVAJO JOE.
After NAVAJO JOE burned his face into my consciousness, Aldo popped up in scores of movies that I saw - including THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, THE LAST RUN w/George C. Scott and FACCIA A FACCIA with Tomas Milian and Gian Maria Volonte. His billing seemed to change alot - Aldo Sanbrell and Alfredo Sanchez Brell were just two of the variations.
In 1984, I started my fanzine SPAGHETTI CINEMA (with Jerry Neeley and John Sullivan) and in issue #7 I decided to attempt to review every film featuring Aldo. I entitled the article "Spain's Best Villan" - only later realizing that I had left out an "i". (This article was partly inspired by the fact that Spanish language stations in L.A. were showing a pile of movies featuring Aldo about which I had been previously unaware: ATRACO EN LA JUNGLA, SOL SANGRIENTO, VUDU SANGRIENTO, LAS MUNECAS DEL KING KONG.) Thanks to the fanzine, I made contact with quite a few fans of these kinds of movies, one of whom was Michael Ferguson. Mike got up the money to visit Spain and later wrote me that he had found the offices of Asbrell Productions and met the man himself; Aldo Sanbrell. He mailed to me a photo which Aldo had kindly signed. (see above)
Years later, again thanks to the fanzine, I met Don Bruce, who had decided to visit every location used by Sergio Leone in the making of the Westerns. While in Spain, he met Aldo Sanbrell, and eventually decided to pay Aldo's way to visit Los Angeles to attend the 2002 Golden Boot Awards - an annual celebration of Western movies which was a fund raiser for the Motion Picture and Television Fund. Kindly, Don also invited Tom Betts and me to attend. Not only did we get to meet with Aldo at the Beverly Hilton event, but Don invited us to breakfast the next morning at his house where we would interview Aldo near Don's swimming pool. It was a great chat, but the highlight for me was when Aldo pulled out his portfolio and resume - which included a photocopy of my first article on him from S.C. #7. It turn out that Mike Ferguson had given him a copy of that issue, so he knew who I was before I met him.
Don paid Aldo's way to attend the 2004 Golden Boot Awards and I was able to visit with him again. It was a real pleasure.
So, the news that he had been hospitalized at the end of May due to a series of "mini-strokes" was upsetting. And while there were reports that he may be sent home from the hospital, there were also reports that he was having trouble speaking and remembering.
On July 10, 2010, he died in the hospital in Alicante, Spain. He left behind a wife, Candida, and more fans than he probably knew that he had.


  1. Nice reminiscence, Bill. At some point he ceased to be just an actor you admired and became a friend.

  2. Aos poucos nossos ídolos estão partindo, infelizmente todos terão que partir. Aldo Sambrell partiu para a Colina da Paz sendo derrotado em seu último duelo com a vida.
    Estamos muito sentidos no Brasil e o que podemos fazer em sua homenagem é assistir aos seus filmes e ver a importancia de suas atuações sempre como o homem mau que morre no final.
    Sem o homem mau e sem a sua morte nos westerns não teriamos finais felizes nos filmes.
    Obrigado por fazer-nos odia-lo nas telas.
    Fica aqui nossa homenagem
    Vaja com Dios Amico...

  3. Aldo was the type of person that treated everyone he met as if he had known them all his life and just hadn't seen them in awhile. In researching Aldo I discovered that his wife Candida, besides being his agent was also an actress who used the name Candice Kay.

    By the way Bill what ever happened to Jerry Neeley and John Sullivan?

  4. Very sad news, indeed. A great face and memorable actor.

  5. I lost contact with Jerry Neeley and John Sullivan about ten years ago. I heard from Jerry's brother, who is on Facebook, that Jerry lost an eye due to diabetes and that John Sullivan died.

  6. Thanks Bill. I think you did tell me before that John had died. Sorry to hear about Jerry.