Legendary actress, Dolores del R?o, was born Maria de los Dolores Asunsolo Lopez-Negrete on Aug 3, 1904 in Durango, Mexico. del R?o died at the age of 78 on Apr 11, 1983 in Newport Beach, CA and was laid to rest in Panteon Civil de D?lores Cemetery in Mexico, Distrito Federal, Mexico.
Dolores del Rio
Dolores del Rio was born MarÃÂa de los Dolores AsÃÂºnsolo y LÃÂ³pez Negrete on August 3rd, 1905 and was the only child of an aristocratic family in Durango, Mexico. Her father, Jesus, was a prominent members of the community and worked as the director of the Bank of Durango while her mother, Antonia, was a member of one of most prominent ruling families of pre-revolution Mexico. During the Mexican Civil war, del Rio and her family would lose much of their fame and political influence as the revolutionary soldiers defeated those loyal to President Porfirio Diaz. At the age of five, del Rio and her family then relocated to Mexico City, where they lived under the protection of revolutionary President Francisco I. Madero, Antonia's maternal cousin. Thanks to her family's familial relations with the new government, they were able to reestablish some of their social prominence. Dolores was thus able to attend the prestigious Liceo Franco-Mexicano convent school where she gained a strong passion for literature, dancing, and the arts.
In 1921 del Rio performed at a charity event organized by the wealthy and prominent cotton farmer Jaime MartÃÂnez del Rio. While performing, Dolores immediately caught his eye and soon the two were introduced. Despite their 18 year age difference, the pair was quite smitten with one another and soon del Rio asked for Dolores hand in marriage. They were married a mere two months after their first meeting. They then spent their lavish two-year honeymoon in Europe, where Dolores flourished. Away from the repressive, conservative life of the Mexican upper class, Dolores was exposed to new forms of art and culture. She charmed her way through this new world and even dined with royalty in Spain. When they returned to Mexico in 1924, the couple suffered a great financial loss when the price of cotton, the source of del Rios wealth, dropped. It was during this time that Dolores was introduced to Edwin Carewe, a top director at First National Films. After seeing her tango at a dinner party, Carewe became infatuated and convinced the couple to move to Hollywood.
Early Film Career
When the del Rios arrived in Hollywood, Carewe quickly established himself as Dolores's mentor, casting her in her first film with a small role in 1925's Joanna. Carewe then embarked on publicity tour in hopes of making her Hollywood star. He cast her as the second female lead opposite Lloyd Hughes and Mary Astor in the jazz-age drama High Steppers. Although the film was the financial success Carewe had hoped for, it did help del Rio's profile. For her next film, Pal's First, del Rio was granted her first starring role. Although the press was less than impressed with her performance, audiences were captivated by the Latin beauty. Her breakthrough role came in late 1926 when she starred Raoul Walsh wartime dark comedy What Price Glory. The film was major success, becoming the second highest grossing film of the year. Later that year, del Rio was named one of 1926's WAMPAS Baby Stars, along with Joan Crawford, Mary Astor, and Fay Wray.
del Rio worked with Walsh again in 1927 to star in his second telling of the famed George Bizet opera Carmen, this version titled The Loves of Carmen. The next year she starred in the Clarence Brown drama The Trail of '98,which featured an early widescreen process called Fanthom Screen. Later that year she starred in the Edwin Carewe romance Ramona opposite Warner Baxter. The film was great success with critics praising del Rio's tempestuous performance. During this time, del Rio would divorce her husband.
Move to Sound and Away from Carewe
By the late 1920s, many in Hollywood were concerned about the businesses move away from silent and into sound. del Rio, however, proved up to the challenge when she joined fellow United Artist stars Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson to demonstrate their speaking abilities on the popular radio series The Dodge Brothers Hour. After listening to del Rio's charming rendition of Ramona, no one questioned her transition into the new technology. It was also during this time that United Artist urged del Rio to end her partnership with Carewe, who's plan for the actress included marriage. After their final film together, 1929's Evangeline, United Artist bought del Rio's contract and added an additional $9,000 a week. She then immediately began work on her first talkie The Bad One, which proved the actress not only could carry a tune over the airwaves but engage in dialogues on the silver screen, as well.
After a whirlwind second marriage to Cedric Gibbons followed by a severe kidney infection, del Rio was unable to work for over a year. Because of this, del Rio and United Artist decided to end their relationship in 1931 while del Rio spent the rest of the year recuperating. She then signed on with RKO studios in 1932. Her first film for the new studio was the musical Girl of the Rio. Her next film, Birds of Paradise, caused quite a scandal when releases due to a scene that featured del Rio swimming naked. She starred Gene Raymond in the highflying musical Flying Down to Rio, which also featured the first pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The film was huge success with both critics and audiences, making RKO almost 500,000 dollars in pure profit. Before the film was released, however, RKO began having doubts about del Rio and released the actress from her contract.
Decline in Hollywood
After leaving RKO del Rio was picked up Warner Brothers. Although the studio had high hopes for their new acquisition, del Rios first two films for the studio, Wonder Bar and Madame Du Barry, found little love with the critics or audiences. Madame Du Barry also had the honor of being the first films re-cut due to the newly imposed Hays Code, and thus had little resemblance to its original intentions. She then appeared in the mediocre films I Live for Love, The Widow from Monte Carlo, and Accused. Although del Rio received great deal of critical acclaim for her portrayal as the scheming wife, Carmen, in The Devil's Playground, the film was a box office failure. The studio heads continued to underutilize del Rio, typecasting her a fairly Latina in films like Lancer Spy, Ali Baba Goes to Town and International Settlement. In 1938, along with Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn and Mae West, del Rio was put on Independent Film Journal's Box-Office Poison list. She then focused her career on modeling for companies such as Lucky Strike cigarettes and Max Factor make-up.
During this time, her second marriage to Cedric Gibbons deteriorated. By 1941 the pair had divorced, making del Rio most eligible woman in Hollywood. She was quickly snatched up by Hollywood's new boy wonder, Orson Welles, who was 10 years her senior. Their relationship began during the filming of Citizen Kane and continued, thereafter. In1942 the pair would work together on the spy thriller, Journey Into Fear, in which she would star and Welles direct. However, by the time the film was released in 1943, Welled playboy ways and del Rios longing for home caused the two to end their relationship.
Return to Mexico and McCarthyism
After almost two decades away from her homeland, she retuned to Mexico in 1942. After navigating Hollywood for almost 20 years, del Rio made very smart contract decisions -asking for a percent of the total profit rather than a large lump some. She was also able to control her career more in Mexico than she ever was able to in Hollywood, having the ability to choose her own scripts and directors. She met immediate success with director Emilio Fernandez's Flor Silvestre, playing a peasant who falls in love with a wealthy landowners son. For her efforts she would her first of four Silver Ariel Awards, the Mexican Cinema's equivalent of the Oscars. She starred in stream of hits such as Maria Candelaria, The Abandoned, Bugambilia, La Selva de fuego and La malquerida.
One of her biggest hits of this era was the 1946 film La Otra, in which she portrayed an overzealous twin, eager to kill her own siblings and then take her own life. The next year she worked with American director John Ford to star opposite Henry Fonda in The Fugitive, which was filmed entirely in Mexico. Her career would continue to flourish in Mexico, winning another Silver Ariel for her performance in the 1951 drama Dona Perfecta.
Despite her massive success in her homeland, del Rio was an unwelcome sight in Hollywood due to the famed House of Un-American Activities hearings. Because of her ties with experimental soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, as well as her associations with fames left-leaning figures such as Diego Rivera, Charles Chaplin, and Orson Welles, del Rio became associated with communism. When she wished to return to Hollywood in 1954 to star in the 20th Century Fox film Broken Lance opposite Spencer Tracy, she was denied a working VISA. She was granted it two years later to work on the stage.
By the late 1950s the Mexican film industry was in decline and thus del Rio turned to the stage for a new artistic outlet. She made her Mexican stage debut in Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan. She continued to act on the stage into the 1960s with plays like La Vidente, The Ghost Sonata and Te Lady of the Camellias. During this time del Rio also began working on the small screen, returning to American to appear in on popular series like The United States Steel Hour, The Man Who Bought Paradise and I, Spy. She made her final small screen appearance in Marcus Welby, M.D. Her final film was the 1978 Mexican drama The Children of Sanchez.
During her later life, del Rio also began to use her fame and influence for social change. In 1966 she co-founded the Sociedad Protectora del Tesoro Artistico de MÃÂ©xico (Society for the Protection of the artistic treasures of Mexico), which was dedicated to protect monuments of art and culture in Mexico. She later went on form the Rosa Mexicano as part of the National Association of Actors (ANDA) of Mexico, whose mission was to protect children and women artists in the film and stage world.
At the twilight of her life del Rio was honored at he San Francisco Film Critics Circle by the film directors Francis Ford Coppola and George Cukor. It would be her last public appearance. Dolores del Rio died of liver disease on April 11th, 1983. She was 77 years old.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
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