Vélez, Lupe (1908–1944)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Vélez, Lupe (1908–1944)

Known as "The Mexican Spitfire" and the "Hot Baby of Hollywood," actress Lupe Vélez came to represent an exotic and generic image of Latin American femininity in Hollywood cinema. Born Maria Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez on 18 July 1908, in the city of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, her first feature-length film was The Gaucho (1927) with Douglas Fairbanks. This performance led to a series of costarring roles throughout the 1930s. Her brief love affair with Gary Cooper and five-year marriage to Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller were highly publicized in the media, and served to reinforce her tempestuous on-screen image.

Although Vélez started her career as a Latin American temptress, she found her niche in comedy with Hot Pepper (1933) and the series of eight Mexican Spitfire films (1939–1943). By 1943 her Hollywood career was waning. She starred in the Mexican production Nana that year, but it was not the success she had hoped it would be. On 13 December 1944, at the age of thirty-six and five months pregnant, Vélez committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills at her home in Beverly Hills, California.

See alsoCinema: From the Silent Film to 1990 .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Agrasánchez, Rogelio, Jr. Beauties of Mexican Cinema/Bellezas del cine mexicano. Harlingen, TX: Agrasánchez Film Archive, 2001.

Ramírez, Gabriel. Lupe Vélez, la mexicana que escupía fuego. Mexico City: Cineteca Nacional, 1986.

Vázquez Corona, Moisés. Lupe Vélez, a medio siglo de ausencia. Mexico City: EDAMEX, 1996.

                                Sophia Koutsoyannis