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Matt Weinstock

July 29, 2007 |  3:09 pm

Matt_weinstockd July 29, 1957

I tore a taco the other day with my favorite villain, Paul Fierro.

Chances are that you've seen him in movies or TV without knowing who he was. He's the tall, dark, grim guy who gives the hero trouble.

Mostly he portrays treacherous Indians, with or without clothes or warpaint. He is indifferent on this point. "I can go naked," he says. "I got muscles."

The important thing to Paul and others who play minor character roles is getting enough work so they can live in the quiet [illegible] style to which they are accustomed.  Paul has a cottage in Laurel Canyon and his passions are cooking and laughing at life.

Born in L.A.'s "Dogtown," he attended Castelar Street School, Vernon Avenue School, Venice High and Madera High, upstate.

He sold papers at Santa Barbara Avenue and Figueroa Street and fought at a smoker in a Spring Street gym when he was 8. Won, too.

1956_1114_wild He played football, halfback, at Madera and won a scholarship to North Carolina State, where he played in 1935, 1936, 1937 under coach Hunk Anderson of Notre Dame. "I ran into the Civil War," he recalls.

He can't help being amused at all the fuss over aid to athletes, as if it were something new. He says he got room, board, tuition, books, laundry and $25 a week.

Funny things are always happening to Paul. Not long ago, while driving his old Ford to Madera, he stopped to pick up a soldier near Fresno. As the soldier got in, fear clouded his face and he exclaimed, "Jeepers! Lou Garcia!" Turned out he'd seen a movie at his base the night before in which Paul played a fierce Mexican devil who robbed a stagecoach and kidnapped an old lady. Paul quieted the youth's fear.

"I've never had a kissing role, said Paul, 41, and a stalwart 200 pounds, "but I don't mind." He's reconciled to playing bad guys. Only one thing. He has to watch his weight. "You can't get too round," he explained. "Fat guys can't scare people."

Paul was preparing to leave for Bend, Ore., on location for the Lindsley Parsons production "Rio Bravo." [Note: Not the John Wayne movie. It was released as "Oregon Passage"]. In it he will play, for a change, a friendly Indian scout named, of all things, Nato!

A LADY NAMED Louise reports she spent a sleepless night pondering upon this classified ad in a neighborhood paper in Hollywood: "Diamond ring. Will trade for gun or ?"

She remains fascinated by the "or ? " She reasons, here is a person with a diamond ring which he--presumably it is a he--wishes to unload. He'll take a gun or what have you.

His mention of the gun indicates he's in a surly mood, in which case the question mark would likely mean a gallon of poison, a tree with a noosed rope attached or a do-it-yourself bomb kit.

Tell you what. I'm going to do, Louise. I'm going to ignore the whole thing and try to get some sleep.