Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tony Iron Eyes Cody – The Crying Red Indian & Icon Of Environmentalism

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Tony Iron Eyes Cody, born Oscar De Corti (April 3, 1907 - January 4, 1999) was an American actor best known for playing Native Americans in Hollywood films.

Near the end of his life he made public his Italian ancestry.

Nevertheless, he was a tireless fighter for the rights of Native Americans and even married Native American wives.

Born in Kaplan, Lousiana to Tony De Corti Sr and Francesca Salpietra of Sicily, Italy, he began acting when he was 12.

He appeared in more than 200 films, including The Big Trail (1930) with John Wayne, Sitting Bull (1954), Nevada Smith (1966) with Steve McQueen and A Man Called Horse (1970) with Richard Harris, and TV series The Cisco Kid (1953) and The A Team (1983).

He was most famous as The Crying Red Indian in a 1970s advertising campaign by Keep America Beautiful.

In the campaign, he played a Native American chief who spoke of environmental pollution plaguing his motherland and shed a tear (with help from make-up) to emphasise his point.

The advertising campaign also featured the background voice of William Conrad of Jake And The Fatman, Bullwinkle and Cannon fame.

Cody collaborated with Joni Mitchell in her song Lakota.

In 1995, the Native American community honored Cody for his contributions to Native American life.

Cody is survived by an adopted son Robert Cody, a well-known Native American musician.

His famous advertisement appeared as a cameo in Native American actress Cameron Diaz’s film The Box.

About Keep America Beautiful

Keep America Beautiful is an environmental organisation founded in 1953.

It is the largest community improvement organisation in the United States, with approximately 580 affiliate organisations (similar to local chapters) and more than 17,000 participating communities in their signature annual event - The Great American Cleanup.

Keep America Beautiful was founded in 1953 by consortium of American businesses, nonprofit organisations, government agencies and concerned individuals in reaction to the growing problem of highway litter.

On Earth Day 1971, a campaign was launched with the theme People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It.

It featured actor Tony Iron Eyes Cody as The Crying Red Indian, who laments that his motherland is polluted by litterbugs.

KAB made litterbug a household word.

Despite its wide following, KAB has also been criticised as an organisation that attacks littering but avoids criticising the consumerist culture that has taken root the world over and which has encouraged throw-away living.