Anthony Quinn: An Inside Look at a Hollywood Legend, and his Hawaiian Ties

Anthony Quinn: An Inside Look at a Hollywood Legend, and his Hawaiian Ties

A few years back, we were fortunate enough to meet Katherine Quinn; the widow of Hollywood legend Anthony Quinn. We learned that Mr. Quinn, whose film career spanned nearly 70 years and over 160 films (including Lawrence of Arabia and Zorba the Greek), was also an incredibly accomplished visual artist.

Enter Glenn Harte, the co-owner of Maui’s Higgins & Harte International Art Gallery, and one of the sole exhibitors of the incredible body of work crafted by Mr. Quinn. His collection, a number of pieces from which are on sale at Harte’s Lahaina gallery, includes sculpted works, a variety of painting styles and more.

Yet what piqued our attention most from our conversations with Mrs. Quinn wasn’t as much her late-husband’s incredible career or eye for color, it was his well-rounded knack for all things creative, and his need to express himself through a number of outlets.

It comes as no surprise that this very sentiment is something that Mrs. Quinn has turned in to a life-long pursuit of her own; the sharing of Anthony’s passion for life.

She recently released “Anthony Quinn’s Eye: A Lifetime of Creating and Collecting Art”, which has been promoted by everyone from Larry King to Diane Sawyer. The book is a photographic and editorial journey through the Quinn’s Rhode Island home (and Anthony’s half-dozen nearby studios) where he created the vast majority of his works. In fact, he could have been found days before his death adding the finishing touches to a sculpture that he simply wasn’t satisfied with.

His dramatic self-expression touched people from California to New York, throughout Europe and Asia, in addition to his native country of Mexico (Quinn’s father fought alongside Pancho Villa).

“I was with Anthony for 16 years of my life, and worked very closely with him as an artist, writer, actor, father and husband,” said Katherine Quinn. “Yet since his death [in 2001], I’ve learned so much more about how astounding the whole of his life really was.”

One of her first tasks included the cataloguing of the thousands of artwork and artifacts he collected from around the world, followed by the thousands of works he created on his own. Throughout the process, Mrs. Quinn decided to sell their main home, and move in to a 200 year old barn that Anthony used as a painting and sculpture studio near Bristol, Rhode Island. Along with the couple’s two children, Mrs. Quinn has since launched the Anthony Quinn Foundation, published two books, curated a number of exhibits, and promoted up-and-coming artists from all over the globe.

However, one spot on the globe, Mrs. Quinn shared, had a special place in the Quinn family hearts. In 1998, Anthony, Katherine, their son Ryan and daughter Antonia attended an art exhibit in Seoul, Korea. The trip was cut short after Anthony immediately came down with a virus, followed by the two children. Since the doctors couldn’t communicate in English very well, and with Christmas looming days away, Katherine ushered the family on to a jet to Hawaii—which involved phone calls to the president of Northwest Air Lines—and straight to the hospital.

After being released, Katherine called in a favor from a distant friend to get them the last available apartment in Waikiki, on Christmas Eve. When Anthony was able to speak, said his wife, he begged to be taken out of the bustling Waikiki, and somewhere quieter. She took a taxi to the airport, rented a car, and loaded her husband and children in it.

After searching for a place to lunch, they found themselves outside at the Mandarin in Kahala.

“Anthony said ‘I could get better here.’ Only problem was, they had no rooms,” said Katherine Quinn. “Tony even tried to bribe the reservations manager.”

Just as they were leaving, the couple ran in to long time friend (and uber successful director) Gary Marshall, who insisted the family take his room.

“We watched the dolphins, took many walks on the beach, canoe trips and enjoyed the warm, sunny days. A few weeks late we headed back home to Rhode Island, healthy and sun-tanned.”

Keep an eye on B on Hawaii for a follow up interview with Mrs. Quinn, and a chat with Glenn Harte.

“Since his death [in 2001], I’ve learned so much more about how astounding the whole of his life really was.” –Katherine Quinn