Paiva is one of those actors that might look familiar but one that you just can’t place. That might have something to do with the fact that Paiva was a great character actor who had over 300 appearances in films and TV throughout his career. He had a natural talent for dialects, so he was always playing a variety of different ethic characters, from Arabs, Spaniards, Italians, Mexicans, Russians, Greeks, and many more. In 1955 alone, he appeared in 5 feature films and 19 TV appearances. Needless to say, he was a busy man.
For us horror fans, he only appeared in a handful of films, but I’ve always found his performance and his characters highly memorable. My favorite of those, which is probably what he’s know for most, is that of Capt. Lucas in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. He reprises this character the following year in its sequel, Revenge of the Creature. He also played the sheriff in Jack Arnold’s 1955 big-bug epic Tarantula. Later in his career, he appeared in less than stellar features, such as Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966) and They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968). Although, he did have an uncredited role in the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
But even though his horror creds were small, I think he is still one that needs to be remembered for creating such colorful and realistic characters for us to enjoy, and continue to do so with each new generation of fans.