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Peter Gonzales Falcon, Star of Federico Fellini’s ‘Roma,’ Dies at 74

Peter Gonzales Falcon, the actor from Texas who portrayed a young Federico Fellini in Roma, the famed Italian director’s 1972 autobiographical film, has died. He was 74.

Gonzales Falcon was found dead at his home Tuesday in La Pryor, Texas, by authorities called there for a safety check, his friend Aurelio Montemayor told The Hollywood Reporter.

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After dropping out of college after being cast in Viva Max (1969), a farcical present-day comedy about retaking the Alamo, Gonzales Falcon was hired by Fellini himself for Roma, which featured cameos from Anna Magnani, Marcello Mastroianni and Gore Vidal.

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Segments of the film show Gonzales Falcon as Fellini during the 1930s and ’40s after the future filmmaker arrives in Rome to pursue a career as a journalist and wanders the city to experience what it has to offer. He worked on the documentary-style feature for 41 weeks, he told author Tom Lisanti during an expansive 2018 interview.

Fellini “was wonderful and always kind and nice to me,” he said. “However, I saw him pitch fits if somebody didn’t give him what he wanted. I never had any problems with him. Then and even now I think, ‘What’s the big deal, let’s just do the scene.’

“He was really intelligent, a genius. He had his vision and his revelations for every scene, right down to the sets and costumes — every stitch was according to his specifications, divinely guided, I guess. It was fabulous watching Fellini direct.”

Gonzales Falcon told Lisanti that his agent had work in other Italian films lined up for him, but a death in the family back in Texas forced him to return home, and he did not accompany Roma when it screened at Cannes.

Peter Gonzales Falcon
Peter Gonzales Falcon with Fiona Florence in 1972’s ‘Roma’

Born on Dec. 26, 1948, and raised in La Pryor, Gonzales Falcon was a senior at Texas State University in 1968 when he accompanied a friend to an open casting call for Viva Max. He was spotted by director Jerry Paris and cast as one of the soldiers who serve under a Mexican general (Peter Ustinov) plotting to recapture the Alamo.

Gonzales Falcon continued with the film when it shot interior scenes at Cinecittà Studios in Rome, then moved to London to model for a year after it was completed. While making Roma, he also was starring as a man in a psychiatric hospital in L’ospite (1971), directed by Liliana Cavani.

He made several films in Mexico before trying his hand in Hollywood, appearing on a 1974 episode of Police Woman and as a man romancing Joanne Woodward’s character in The End (1978), directed by and starring Burt Reynolds.

Gonzales Falcon also worked in Heartbreaker (1983), starring Miguel Ferrer, and in the 1986 CBS telefilm Houston: The Legend of Texas, starring Sam Elliott. He then played a police chief in Gregory Nava’s Texas-set Bordertown (2007), starring Jennifer Lopez and Martin Sheen.

More recently, he portrayed a phony Italian chef in Tiramisu for Two (2016) and appeared in the horror film Dis (2018), was saluted at the 2018 Amarcort Film Festival — an annual event dedicated to Fellini — and taught filmmaking.

Survivors include his daughters, Ariana and Talula, and sister Maria.

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