Fernando Fernán-Gómez was an actor and director of screen and stage, writer and academic who cultivated a bad-tempered persona to hide his timidity. In his 60-year career he appeared in more than 200 films, directed an...展开other 20 and wrote plays, novels and poetry, winning many prizes including seven Goyas, the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars.
He was born in Lima while his mother, the actress Carola Fernández Gómez, was touring South America. His birth was registered in Buenos Aires and although he returned to Madrid at 3 he retained his Argentine passport until 1970 when he became a Spanish citizen. He caught the theatrical bug as a child and worked his way through amateur groups as well as taking acting classes provided by the anarchist CNT trade union. In 1940 he made his professional debut in the Comedy Theatre, Madrid, in We Thieves are Honourable People. He found the cinema more congenial, away from the intimacy of the theatre public, and appeared in a string of light comedy films during the 1940s before directing his first film in 1952, The Madhouse, which flopped. In 1958 he scored a notable success with Life Goes On.
After the death of Franco and the end of the military dictatorship he began to attract serious critical interest, first with his play Bicycles are for Summer, about the civil war, which was made into a film in 1983. His first novel was The Orange Seller (1961), while in the 1980s he wrote a novel from a radio series he devised, The Journey to Nowhere. In 1986 he turned it into a film. He also published two volumes of autobiography, The Yellow Time (1990) and Puerta del Sol (1995).
During the Franco era he courted controversy by directing, in 1964, Strange Journey, which was censored, and starring in Victor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive in 1973. In 1992 he appeared in Belle époque, which won an Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film. He also took a cameo role in Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother. In 1995 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias award, and in 1998 he was elected to the Royal Spanish Academy, the guardian of the Castilian language.