||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (November 2009)|
September 8, 1932|
Mexico City, Mexico
|Died||February 2, 1970
|Occupation||Matador, film actor|
Jaime Bravo (September 8, 1932 – February 2, 1970) was a Mexican matador during the 1950s and 1960s. Bravo was known for death defying style and numerous relationships with women and Hollywood starlets.
Bravo was born in the infamous Tepito District of México City, to Spanish parents. His way out of the ghetto was as a trapezista (trapeze artist) for a well known Mexican circus. In his early twenties he stowed away on a ship to Cuba, and then on another to Spain, where he learned his art. Bravo took his Alternativa in Valencia, and was later confirmed in Madrid.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Mexico was full of crossover movie stars including Antonio Aguilar, making western films and usually singing in them like a Latin version of Elvis, the scripts groomed to fit his more high-profile career. Gaston Santos, the rejoneador, was also making movies. There were wrestlers like Blue Demon, El Santo, Chanoc, Mil Mascaras and Nathaniel Leon making horror films. Then bullfighters like Carlos Arruza, Luis Procuna, Manuel Capetillo, and David Liceaga entered the field. Jaime Bravo was a bullfighter for many years, especially popular with the ladies and with the border town crowds. He had the looks and the charm, if not the talent, to make it on the screen and to some producers, that's all that mattered.
Bravo played a small part in a movie called Call of a Bull, which was available through a California distributor some years ago in both English and Spanish. The film starred Emilio Fernández and a cast of Americans, the main theme being about a woman wanting to be a bullfighter. Bravo was there, for more reason than not, just to see how he looked on the screen.
Another film, which was scandalous for the time, Love Has Many Faces (1965) featured Bravo as a matador. Starring Lana Turner, Cliff Robertson, Hugh O'Brian, Ruth Roman, and Stefanie Powers. Although Bravo spoke English very well, the film's producers used another actor's voice to dub over Bravo's thick accent.[clarification needed]
He was also the topic of a documentary directed by Art Swerdloff. This film, titled The Story of a Matador (1962), was a David Wolper production, with Bravo demonstrating what a bullfighter went through as he rose to stardom in the rings. "It is one of my favourite half hour films", Swerdloff commented recently when asked about it. "One of the best I've done."
Away from the bullrings, Bravo already had the making of a big screen movie idol, if only by his often scandalous behaviour. Having numerous affairs with Hollywood's most beautiful and biggest names, his reputation as a romantic was and is still well-known... and more often than not, caused him trouble. To this day, he is remembered for frequently having more than several of any of his girlfriends mixed throughout the crowd at any particular bullfight, unbeknownst to one another.
Quite the character, Bravo was a true showman. Although a top matador, Bravo's fame was more so driven by his persona and his unrelenting bravery. Always pushing the envelope of drama and danger just a little bit further than his contemporaries, Bravo drew tremendous crowds who were mesmerized by his repeatedly placing himself in and then ripping himself out from the jaws of death. As one journalist put it, "The bull was probably scared of Jaime."
"Jaime was gored more than 50 times in his career." Larry Jones, an official of a Tijuana ring, said when informed of the bullfighter's death, "He was very daring and thought he had to get injured to please the fans."
"Bravo delighted in challenging the bull to the fullest extent. He was popular in Tijuana because he was flashy and colorful. Few bullfighters took more chances than Jaime."
Fans thought that his early training as a trapezista saved his life in the bull ring many times. A native of Mexico City, Jaime seldom fought there because he was so popular in border towns like Tijuana.
Bravo also had the uncanny knack of utilizing scandal to make sure that he received the best headlines. During an August 1968 corrida, playing to the Tijuana, non-aficionado tourists, Bravo "requested the animal be spared. This, in turn, was denied, and the torero [Bravo] who refused to kill the bull was escorted to the local jail and fined". Bravo received headlines for his defiance.
Only one month earlier, at a July 1968 corrida, Bravo had used a similar press-grabbing tactic, when he was not performing his best and another matador's superior performance was going to gain the next day's headlines. Before that corrida ended, Bravo made sure to curse at the bullring's judge, just enough to infuriate the judge so that Bravo was immediately arrested and jailed. Cameras captured countless photos of Bravo being cuffed, escorted from the bullring, taken to the jail, and locked in a cell. Bravo accomplished his goal. The next day, the newspapers' headlines boldly declared that Jaime Bravo had been jailed. Much further down the page, and in much smaller type, only a few sentences stated that the other matador had performed brilliantly.
Never a dull moment for the crowds, gossip was further promulgated by such actions as his behavior during a 1957 Tijuana bullfight, during which he tossed flowers to Ava Gardner, from the ring. She was at the corrida with actor Gilbert Roland.
One of the biggest scandals concerning Bravo and his misadventures related to Arabella Arbenz, daughter of Guatemala's leftwing president Jacobo Arbenz, who was ousted long ago. This woman was a top fashion model, who eventually committed suicide in front of Bravo, shooting herself on October 5, 1965.
Bravo was married three times. First, he married actress Francesca De Scaffa in 1957. The marriage was a fiasco and was eventually annulled the same year by the appropriate magistrate, as a favor to Bravo's friend Pablo Picasso, who gave the signed annulment to Bravo as a belated wedding gift.
In 1957, Bravo next married the actress Ann Robinson, by whom he had his first two sons, Jaime and Estefan. In 1967, two years after appearing in a 1965 Las Vegas promotional bullfight, he married a Las Vegas showgirl named Monica Lind (from Les Folies Bergère), by whom he had his third and final son, named Aleco Jaime Bravo.
By the late 1960s, Bravo was a seasoned bullfighter, who still had his looks and, as such, was looking to the film world for a career that might suit him once he retired from the bulls. There were a variety of production companies keen on giving him a go. He had a high enough profile that his name could draw the people, both within the Mexican interior and in the USA. Keep in mind that he had a large following in the border towns, such as Tijuana, Nogales, Juarez and Matamoros, making his name easily recognizable in states such as California, Arizona, and Texas. But such was not to be.
On February 2, 1970, Bravo and his driver were killed in a car accident near Zacatecas, México. Eloy Cavazos, a fellow matador, who was one of Jaime's protégés, was also in the car, but survived, and continued on to have a very long career as one of Mexico's and the world's top matadors.
- Matador Jaime Bravo
- Pulp Movies
- "Toros" Magazines
- Programs - International Bullfight
- "Matadors of Mexico" (1961), Ann D. Miller
- ToroPedia.com, the English language online encyclopedia of bullfighting.
- Various newspapers from the 1960s