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A PROFILE: THE GREAT PROFILE
Leopoldo Salcedo is six feet tall not only in person
but also in the motion picture industry.
By TINO R. STA. ROMANA
LEOPOLDO SALCEDO, Pol to his legions of fans and admirers, is 6 feet tall, dark and very handsome. A combination of Rodolfo Valentino, Clark Gable and John Wayne, Pol has earned the tag of Asian Adonis, “The King,” the “Great Profile” of Philippine movielandia, a man’s man, “the real thing,” or “The Lady’s Choice” as he is often referred to by movie columnists. While others have faded away, Pol Salcedo is still making movies, radio and television shows.
Salcedo was born in Cavite, center and cradle of the first successful Philippine Revolution against tyranny and oppression. His father, a Spanish mestizo, used to work as foreman with the US Navy Yard at Sangley Point, Cavite. His mother from whom he took his dark complexion, is a Filipina with imposing carriage and elegant manners.
Pol, second boy in a family of six, had a sister who is a nun, the Mother Superior of a prestigious and exclusive catholic school.
As a student, Salcedo, who had in poor health as a child, was good in athletics as well as in drama. Oratory and declamation contests were his forte.
The highlight of Pol’s life came when a friend, without his knowledge and consent, published his picture in one of the national magazines. Director Jose Nepomuceno of Malayan Pictures often called father of Philippine movies, had him called and right then and there Salcedo was offered the leading role in Sainted Devil, with glamorous Purita Sta. Maria, as her leading lady.
Since then, Salcedo has starred in more than 500 pictures. He has worked and co-starred with Van Heflin, Rita Gomez, Vera Miles, Dennis Weaver, Rita Moreno, James MacArthur, Michael Rennie, Diyan Jergen, Barbara Bouchet, to name only a few international stars. He has worked practically with all Philippine movie people. He has been directed by Ted Post, Gerry de Leon, Art Wayne, Bert Avellana, and other directors.
Cool Million Yearly
He is one of the highest paid actors. There was a time when he used to earn more than a million dollars a year. Financial success, however, could not prevent his greatest disappointment in life to see his mother die early during his rising movie career.
In the second World War, when the Japanese invaded the Philippines, Salcedo was active in the guerrilla movement. He rose to the rank of captain in the Marking’s Guerrilla outfit, where he was supply officer. He was most active in intelligence work about the enemy placement of troops, supplies, installations and ships.
On November 30, 1944, when the American Forces made their historic landing in Leyte, he and eleven of his men were caught doing espionage and sabotage work in the heart of Manila. Imprisoned at Fort Santiago – consigned to one of its death dungeons where they were brutalized and given the works prior to execution – he was luckily able to escape with four of his men. The seven left were executed.
Pol never claimed backpay. He considered it a rare privilege and the duty of every citizen to protect and serve his country from foreign aggressors.
Liberation made Pol again very much in demand in the movies. He has visited and toured the United States four times on business or pleasure trips or personal appearances, and toured around the world for a rest. In Hawaii and California, he counts with a big following in the Filipino and Asian communities.
Very active in social services, Pol is with the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts and other volunteer groups that help the needy – and the hopeless – rendering his services free. During the Korean War, he led a troupe that entertained Filipino and American troops to boost their morale and fighting spirit. He visited camps and hospitals to cheer the sick and the wounded.
Salcedo is best responsible for his postwar Philippine Movie Artists Guild. Conceived to protect the entertainment community against the unscrupulous exploitation of their talents by foreign or local groups, the Guild has had Salcedo as president.
A sense of social indignation and commitment, a sympathy for the downtrodden farmers, workers, helpless legitimate studentry, whether as picketeers or activists being bullied, harassed or mowed down – Pol joins them in their marches, demonstrations and speeches. At one time he challenged a garrulous Manila mayor to a boxing bout or a duel when the city executive, while tipsy at one of the plush motels along Dewey Boulevard, started to bully waiters.
Close To All Presidents
Pol has been close to all the Philippine Presidents, starting with Emilio Aguinaldo, the statesman Osmena, the dynamic Roxas, the fiery Quezon, the charismatic Magsaysay, the humble Garcia, the popular Macapagal and the incumbent Marcos. Pol was among the first diehard lieutenants that plotted Marcos’ first victory but principles and idealism have caused a parting of ways although they may be still the best of friends.
He has turned a deaf ear on this impurtunings of many to make him run for Senator or for the governorship of his province Cavite. There is again a clamor for him today to run for the Senate or as vice mayor of Manila under the Liberal Party headed by Senator Gerry Roxas.
Whether facing the camera or not, he is the epitome of hard work, dignity and total professionalism. He has a passion for perfection. He comes to work on the dot – studies and reads his lines with utmost concentration.
Salcedo speaks Spanish, Tagalog and English fluently. It is habitual for Pol to read books, periodicals, newspapers and magazines before retiring. His extensive collection of books ranges from classics to biographies, books on economics, the sciences and the humanities.
To maintain his fighting weight, he plays golf, fishes, swims and practices dynamic tension. This fastidious dresser wears suits of the best selected materials.
At present, Pol is consumed by the desire to serve his country by bringing the goodwill of the Philippines to its Asian neighbors by means of a cultural project.
“The King,” has cut quite a swath among the most beautiful stars, society girls, matrons, and international beauties. He has been married five times to the most glamorous women. Friends jokingly call him the “male” Elizabeth Taylor. His motto? “Life without love is like a barren desert.”
Source: The Weekly Nation, August 30, 1971
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