Leonardo Villar whose star turn as Donkey Jack in ''The Given Word'' also known in English as ''Keeper of Promises'' made him one of Brazil's most revered actors and helped the film clinch the top prize at Cannes in 1962.

''The Given Word,'' which tells the story of a man carrying a large wooden cross through Brazil's backlands, became the first, and only, Brazilian Film to win the Palme d'Or, making it a classic and Mr. Villar a movie star before it even opened in theaters.

It was also the First South American Film to be nominated for an Oscar - for best foreign language film.

When the director Anselmo Duarte and the producer Oswaldo Massaini returned from Cannes weeks later, they were paraded through the streets of Sao Paulo atop a fire truck - the honor usually reserved for World Cup winners.

Mr. Villar, who had discreetly returned to work the day after Cannes, turned out briefly to appear atop the truck and was then, just as quickly gone.

Leonildo de Motia was born on July 25, 1923, in Piracicaba, a small city in the state of Sao Paulo. His parents were early immigrants from the Spain Andalusia region.

Mr. Villar was among the first graduates of the University of Sao Paulo's School of Dramatic Art in 1948. He made his first theatrical appearance in 1950 in Aristophanes ''The Birds.''

From 1954 to 1961, he was a featured player at the Brazilian Comedy Theater. It was there that Mr. Villar originated the stage role Donkey Jack in ''The Given Word,'' written by Alfredo Dias Gomes in 1960. He recreated the character in the movie adaption for his film debut. 

In 1964, he played the lead in the film ''Lampiao, King of the badlands,'' which told the story of a real-life Brazilian bandit who enjoys a Robin Hood like status there.

A year later, he was named best actor at the Brasilia Film Festival for his performance in the title role of ''The Hour and Turn of Augusto Marraga.''

Over his career Mr. Villar appeared in 42 plays, 18 films and 31 television shows, including some of Brazil's biggest telenovelas. His last appearance was in 2010 in the telenovela ''Passione''

The World Students Society thanks author Michael Astor.


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