Victor Argo (November 5, 1934 – April 7, 2004) was an American actor of Puerto Rican descent who usually played the part of a tough bad guy in his movies. He had a career span of forty years. He is best known for Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), Hot Tomorrows (1977), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), King of New York (1990), and McBain (1991).
Argo was born Victor Jimenez in The Bronx, New York. Both of his parents were born in the town of Quebradillas, Puerto Rico.
Argo began his career as a stage actor. While performing in an Off-Broadway play during the 1960s, Argo met Yoko Ono, with whom he participated in the so-called “Happening” movement. He also became friends with the then fledgling actor Harvey Keitel, with whom he remained close for nearly forty years. In 1977, Argo became a founding member of the Riverside Shakespeare Company on New York City’s Upper West Side. As a member, he toured the parks of Manhattan playing Lord Montague.
In the 1970s, Argo made his film debut with a small part in Unholy Rollers and his television debut in a made-for-TV film Smile Jenny, You’re Dead. He became a durable movie tough guy and a favorite of such directors as Martin Scorsese, Abel Ferrara and Woody Allen. His film credits include Taxi Driver, King of New York, The Rose, New York Stories, The Last Temptation of Christ, Bad Lieutenant, True Romance and Coyote Ugly. In 2001, he played Jennifer Lopez’s father in the romantic drama Angel Eyes. His television guest appearances include The Rockford Files, Wonder Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Spenser: For Hire, Law & Order and Miami Vice. Argo lent his talents to seventy-five films and twenty-one television guest roles in total.
Among the films in which Argo had a role were the following:
Shortly before his death, Argo realized a lifelong dream of performing on Broadway when he was cast as Santiago, the owner of a cigar factory, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Anna in the Tropics. In his last on-screen role, in the independent film Lustre by director Art Jones, Argo portrayed a New York City loan shark who retreats from his everyday, hard-nosed rants to a deeply spiritual disconnect with the world. The film was released in 2005. Argo died in New York City at Saint Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center on April 7, 2004 from complications of lung cancer at age 69. His body was donated to Manhattan College for medical science. In 2005, Electronic music group Bodega System releases a 12″ vinyl LP which includes the track “Victor Argo”.