Cesar Julio Romero, Jr. was a Cuban American film and television actor, who played The Joker in the 1960s television series Batman. In 1966, the show was transferred to movie theaters, and Romero became the first actor to portray the Joker in a motion picture.
Romero was born in New York to prosperous Cuban parents. That lifestyle, however, changed dramatically when his parents lost their sugar import business and suffered losses in the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Fortunately, Romero’s Hollywood earnings allowed him to support his large family, all of whom followed him to the West Coast, years later. Romero lived on and off with various family members, especially his sister, for the rest of his life.
In October 1942, he voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and served in the Pacific Theater. He reported aboard the Coast Guard-manned assault transport USS Cavalier in November, 1943. According to a press release from the period he saw action during the invasions of Tinian and Saipan. The same article mentioned that he preferred to be a regular part of the crew and was eventually promoted to the rank of chief Boatswain’s Mate.
Romero played “Latin lovers” in films from the 1930s until the 1950s, usually in supporting roles. He starred as The Cisco Kid in six westerns made between 1939 and 1941. Romero danced and performed comedy in the 20th Century Fox films he starred in opposite Carmen Miranda and Betty Grable, such as Week-End in Havana and Springtime in the Rockies, in the 1940s.