By HENRY FREDERICK
Who knew? The crying Indian in the early 1970s ant-littering PSA commercial on TV was not Native American after all. This, according to Today I Found Out, the informative YouTube channel.
Simon Whistler, the narrator of the YouTube channel introduces the late Oscar “Iron Eyes” Cody as "The Crying Indian who wasn't."
Cody portrayed Native Americans in more than 200 films and countless television shows over his 64-year career. But his greatest role perhaps was that of the Native American Indian who sheds a ear when trash is thrown at his feet by those in a passing car near a riverbank after he's gotten out of a canoe.
Cody was actually the son of two Italian immigrants to the US.
Here is a synopsis of how Cody is described by TodayIFoundOut.com:
Born on April 3, 1904 as Espera Oscar de Corti, Cody’s parents were both Sicilian immigrants (Antonio de Corti and wife, Francesca Salpietra). He grew up in Gueydan, Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, where his parents ran a grocery store.
After his father and mother split up, Cody joined his father in Texas, where the family surname was shortened to just Corti. Oscar and his brothers, Joseph and Frank, eventually took off to California (supposedly after being exposed to movie making when a film crew used their farm as a set), changed their last name to Cody, and began working in Hollywood. Throughout his career, despite several actual Native American actors being highly skeptical of his supposed heritage, Cody claimed that he was of Cherokee-Cree descent. Besides other facets of his origin story that changed over the years, he frequently changed the stated place of his birth, perhaps to hide his true ancestry...
Cody appeared in over 200 films and TV shows and worked with some of the top names in Hollywood at the time including John Wayne (The Big Trail 1930), Joseph Cotton (The Great Sioux Massacre 1965), Steve McQueen (Nevada Smith 1966) and Richard Harris (A Man Called Horse 1970).