Actress Dolores del Río was born on August 3, 1905 in Durango, Mexico. She was a star of Hollywood films during the silent era and in the Golden Age of Hollywood. In the Silent film era, Del Rio was considered a counterpart to Rudolph Valentino. With the arrival of the talkies, she became one of the principal Art Deco symbols of beauty. Del Río was one of the principal stars of Mexican films during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. She was frequently called the "Princess of México.” She is the second cousin of actor Ramón Novarro and a cousin to actress Andrea Palma.
Using her married surname, del Río made her film debut in Joanna in 1925. Hollywood first noticed her appeal as a sex siren. Del Rio struggled against the "Mexicali Rose" image initially pitched to her by Hollywood executives. In her second film High Steppers, del Rio took the second female credit after Mary Astor. These films were not blockbusters, but helped increase del Río's popularity. In 1926, director Raoul Walsh gave her a role in What Price Glory. With the character of Charmaine, del Río achieved her desired success becoming one of the most beautiful women on screen. In 1928, Dolores replaced actress Renée Adorée in the MGM film The Trail of '98. Her career flourished until the end of the silent era. She had successful films such as Ramona (1928, for which she recorded the famous song "Ramona" with RCA Victor), and Evangeline (1929).
In 1930, she married Cedric Gibbons, one of MGM's leading art directors and production designers, whom she met at a party organized by William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies at Hearst Castle. Her presence in Hollywood of the thirties is not just limited to the world of cinema, also the high society circles. The Gibbons-Del Río house in Hollywood was a frequent meeting place from personalities like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Errol Flynn, Lili Damita, Clark Gable and many more. With the advent of talkies, she was relegated to exotic and unimportant roles. She scored successes with Bird of Paradise (1932), directed by King Vidor. The film scandalized audiences when she took a naked swim with Joel McCrea. This film was made before the Hays Code was enacted so nudity could be shown. Her next film was Flying Down to Rio (the film that first paired Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) (1933); Madame Du Barry (1934) and Wonder Bar (1934).
In the late thirties, del Río's career declined. With the support of Warner Bros. she made a series of police films (such as Lancer Spy in 1937 and International Settlement in 1938). But del Río's career in the later 1930s unfortunately suffered from too many exotic, two-dimensional roles designed with Hollywood's cliche idea of ethnic minorities in mind. She was marked as "box office poison" by exhibitors, along with actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford.
In 1940, Dolores met Orson Welles, who at that time was new to Hollywood. Feeling a mutual attraction, the couple began a romance. Welles fell madly in love with her. Reportedly, the affair was the cause of her divorce from Gibbons in 1941. Dolores del Río was with Welles for two years, during which he was at the peak of his career. She was at his side during the filming of Citizen Kane, and during the attacks of Randolph Hearst against him.
In 1954, del Río was slated to appear in the film Broken Lance. The U.S. government denied her permission to work in the USA, accusing her of being a sympathizer of international communism. Because del Río did not get permission, the film was made by Katy Jurado. Dolores del Río became one of the victims of McCarthyism. Her situation with the U.S. was fixed in 1956 when the actress was able to return to the United States to perform in the theatrical production of Anastasia.
In 1960 Dolores del Río finally returned to Hollywood. She starred with Elvis Presley in Flaming Star. She then alternated between films in Mexico and the USA. On April 11, 1983, Dolores del Río died from liver disease in Newport Beach, California. She was cremated and her ashes were interred in the Panteón de Dolores cemetery in Mexico City, Mexico. In 2005, on the centenary of her birth, her remains were moved to the Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres in Mexico City.
Who died on this date:
On August 3, 1995, actress Ida Lupino died. She was born on February 4, 1918 in Camberwell, England into a family of performers, her father, Stanley Lupino was a music-hall comedian, and her mother, Connie Emerald was an actress. It was after her appearance in The Light That Failed (1939) that Lupino began to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress. As a result, her parts improved during the 1940s, and she began to describe herself as "the poor man's Bette Davis."
During this period, Lupino became known for her hard-boiled roles in such films as They Drive by Night (1940) and High Sierra (1941), both opposite Humphrey Bogart. For her performance in The Hard Way (1943). In 1947, Lupino left the Warner Brothers company to become a freelance actress. Notable films she appeared in around that time include Road House and On Dangerous Ground.
In the mid-1940s, while on suspension for turning down a role, Lupino became interested in directing. She described herself as being bored on set while "someone else seemed to be doing all the interesting work." She and her husband Collier Young formed an independent company, The Filmakers [sic], and Lupino became a producer, director and screenwriter of low-budget, issue-oriented films. Her first directing job came unexpectedly in 1949 when Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and could not finish Not Wanted, the film he was directing for Filmakers. Lupino stepped in to finish the film and went on to direct her own projects, becoming Hollywood's only female film director of the time.
Not only did Lupino take control of production, direction and screenplay, but each of her movies addresses the brutal repercussions of sexuality, independence, and dependence. After four "woman's" films about social issues including Outrage (1950), a film about rape, Lupino directed The Hitch-Hiker (1953), making her the first woman to direct a film noir. Lupino continued acting throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Her directing efforts during these years were almost exclusively television productions such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, The Twilight Zone, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Donna Reed Show, Gilligan's Island, 77 Sunset Strip, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, The Rifleman, The Virginian, The Untouchables, The Fugitive and Bewitched. Lupino died from a stroke while undergoing treatment for colon cancer in Los Angeles on August 3, 1995. Her remains are interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.
www.michaelthomasbarry.com, author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"