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Subject: Tony Martinez, actor, "Man of La Mancha"

Las Vegas
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Date Posted: September 28, 2002 12:01:32 EDT

Tony Martinez, a stage actor who became known for his television role on "The Real McCoys" in the 1950's, died September 23 at the age of 82.

Mr. Martinez played the Mexican farmhand Pepino Garca in "The Real McCoys" from 1957 to 1963.

Kathleen Nolan, "The Real McCoys" star who was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1975 to 1980, called his casting "a major breakthrough in terms of minority representation on television."

After his television stint, Mr. Martinez spent more than four decades onstage, playing Sancho Panza in 2,245 performances of "Man of La Mancha," including the national company tour in the late 1960's and two national revival tours.

Born in Puerto Rico in 1920, Mr. Martinez studied music in San Juan before moving to New York to attend Juilliard.

A musician who played five instruments and also sang, he formed his own small band in New York in the 1940's, Tony Martinez and His Mambo-U.S.A.

He was playing at a Hollywood club when he was discovered by the writing and producing team of Irving and Norman Pincus, who were looking for someone to play Pepino.

In addition to his wife, Myra, Mr. Martinez is survived by five children, two grandchildren and a sister.

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