Celebrating Orlando Martins: First African Hollywood Star from Lagos
Orlando Martins remains the most accomplished Nigerian international star of both stage and screen in the last 100 years. No other Nigerian actor has matched the filmography of Martins.
He played the prominent role of Blossom in the 1949 film "The Hasty Heart", starring Ronald Reagan who later became a great President of the United States of America. The film was nominated for an Oscar and won two Golden Globes (Richard Todd for "Most Promising Newcomer – Male" and for "Best Film Promoting International Understanding.)
NOLLYWOOD MIRROR®Series is the first African publication to celebrate Orlando Martins with photographs that have not been published before in one volume for the historical legacy and for the benefit of posterity.
The tribute is in the second edition of NOLLYWOOD MIRROR®Series in hardcover, paperback and eBook distributed by Amazon, Lulu, Barnes & Noble.
Martins as a young man in merchant navy of Great Britain during World War 1.
The great Orlando Martins (8 December 1899 – 25 September 1985) was a pioneering Nigerian film and stage actor. In the late 1940s, he was one of England's most prominent and leading black actors and in a poll conducted in 1947, he was listed among England's top 15 favourite actors.Orlando Martins' family in Lagos, showing his mother and two of his sisters.
Martins was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to a civil servant Brazilian father. He was related to the Benjamin Epega family. In 1913 he was enrolled in Eko Boys High School but dropped out.
During World War I he served as a stoker on the RMS Mauretania to avenge German cruelty to his family. Following the end of the war, he moved to London; on arrival in 1919 he had no source of income and had to look for ways to earn money. Around the same time, the Lyceum Theatre was looking for 'supers' at the rate of three shillings per day. Martins joined the theatre and from there took on various theatre jobs to survive. In 1923, Sanger's Circus wanted to have someone to display pythons, Martins took the part starting his performing career in the circus. He also worked as a wrestler (known as "Black Butcher Johnson").
Year Film Role Notes
1935 Sanders of the River- Klova
1945 The Man from Morocco- Jeremiah
1946 Men of Two Worlds -Magole
1947 The End of the River -Harrigan
1949 The Hasty Heart -Blossom
1954 West of Zanzibar -M'Kwongi
1955 Simba -Headman
1956 Safari -Jerusalem
1957 Abandon Ship -Sam Holly
1957 Tarzan and the Lost Safari - Chief Ogonooro
1958 The Naked Earth -Tall Bearer
1959 Sapphire -Barman
1959 The Nuns Story -Kalulu
1960 Killers of Kilimanjaro Chief Chief
1963 Call Me Bwana- Chief Tribal Chief
1965 Mister Moses -Chief Chief
1965 A Boy Ten Feet Tall -Abu Lubaba
1973 Kongi's Harvest -Dr. Gbenga