Screen legend Eddie Garcia dies at 90

MANILA, Philippines – Veteran actor and director Eddie Garcia died on Thursday, June 20. He was 90 years old.

The news of his death was confirmed via a medical bulletin issued by the Makati Medical Center. Dr. Antonio Rebosa, who serves as the family spokesperson, confirmed to Rappler that the actor died at 4:55 pm. 

The actor was hospitalized on June 8 after he tripped on a cable and sustained a fracture on his cervical spine while taping for the upcoming teleserye Rosang Agimat. The fracture left him in a comatose state.

An initial statement attributed to Garcia’s family and released by GMA following the incident said that the actor had suffered a “severe heart attack,” though his partner’s uncle Dr. Enrique Lagman told Rappler that tests cleared Garcia of stroke or heart attack.

A stalwart of the local film and TV industry, Garcia started acting in 1949, appearing in Sampaguita Pictures’ Siete Infantes de Lara. Then a Philippine Scout with the US army, Garcia auditioned for the film with the intention to go behind the camera. He would later get to do so with his directorial debut in the 1961 film Karugtong ng Kahapon.

Throughout his career, Garcia was known for his versatility, refusing to be typecast into any role. With his vast filmography, it’s hard to single out a single notable performance from Garcia, but among his most memorable appearances were as a closeted gay father in Lino Brocka’s 1971 film Tubog sa Ginto, a trigger-happy general in Joel Lamangan’s 1996 film Bakit May Kahapon Pa?, a death row inmate in Joel Lamangan’s 2000 film Deathrow, and a lonely gay man who cares for a stray dog in Jun Lana’s 2012 film Bwakaw.

His career also flourished behind the camera. He directed films including Abakada Ina (2001), Imortal (1990), PS I Love You (1981), and Pinagbuklod ng Langit (1971).

At an age where most people would enjoy their retirement, Garcia remained tireless, and even in his 80s was considered to be one of the hardest working actors in the industry.

He won many accolades throughout his career and is the only person who has been inducted into the FAMAS Hall of Fame in 3 categories: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director.

Even to the end, he was raking in the acting trophies, winning awards for his final few performances: Best Actor in a full length film at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in August 2018 for his role as a sadistic torturer in ML, and the Special Jury Prize at the Metro Manila Film Festival in December 2018 for his turn Rainbow’s Sunset, in which he played an elderly gay man.

His role in Rosang Agimat was touted as his network comeback at age 90.

Months before his death, he was quoted as saying “Retirement? Not in my vocabulary.” – Rappler.com