THE REIGN OF CESAR
Baby boomers may instantly match Cesar Romero’s name with the clownish face of the Joker from TV’s Batman. But for decades before the pop era, Romero, who died New Year’s Day at age 86 from complications related to a blood clot, was the embodiment of the Latin lover in escapist Hollywood exotica. Blessed with a macho physique and a smooth delivery, this Manhattan-bred grandson of Cuban liberator Jose Marti made his film debut as just a gigolo in 1934’s The Thin Man. For years after, whenever there was a Weekend in Havana or a musical in another exotic locale, Romero was there. In the ’50s he easily made the transition to television, memorably as the suave foreign courier in the adventure series Passport to Danger before his late-’60s date with the Caped Crusader. And he was still strutting his stuff as an octagenarian, playing shipping tycoon Peter Stavros opposite Jane Wyman on Falcon Crest from 1985 to ’87.