|Born||María de Guadalupe Tovar
July 27, 1910
|Spouse(s)||Paul Kohner (1932 – March 16, 1988; his death)|
Lupita Tovar (born July 27, 1910) is a Mexican actress, best known for her starring role in the 1931 Spanish language version of Dracula, filmed in Los Angeles by Universal Pictures at night using the same sets as the Bela Lugosi version, but with a different cast and director.
Although she herself apparently did not make any silent films, with her earliest films released by Fox Film Corporation in the Fox Movietone sound-on-film system, some may have been released in silent versions for theaters not yet equipped for sound.
Life and career
Born as Guadalupe Tovar, in Matías Romero, Oaxaca, Mexico, Tovar was discovered by documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty of Fox Studios while acting in a school play in Mexico City. She came to Hollywood in 1929 and a perusal of her lessons at the time reflects how serious she was in her attitude.
Her weekly schedule included guitar, two hours four days, Spanish dances, one hour three days, dramatics, one-half hour two days, and English, one hour every day. Her accent was considered an asset in talking motion pictures. Lupita's English improved significantly in just seven months from the time she arrived in Hollywood in January 1929. At first she could not say good morning in English. Her improvement owed much to her frequenting talkies, and learning new words and how to say them by reading voraciously. Tovar appeared in The Veiled Woman (1929) with Bela Lugosi (now thought to be a lost film) and The Cock-Eyed World (1929).
In 1930, she was mentioned for leads in two talkies starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Richard Barthelmess. Fairbanks put off the filming of what became The Exile. After his death, the film was made in 1947 by his son, Douglas, Jr., directed by Max Ophüls. Tovar starred opposite Antonio Moreno in La Voluntad del Muerto, the Spanish-language version of The Cat Creeps (1930) based on the John Willard mystery play The Cat and the Canary; The Cat Creeps and La Voluntad del muerto were remakes of The Cat and the Canary (1927). Casting was done in July 1930 with the film being released later the same year.
The Spanish version was directed by George Melford and, like the Spanish-language version of Dracula, was filmed at night using the same sets as those used for filming the English-language version during the day. After Dracula, Tovar starred in Santa (1931), Mexico's first talkie, which was such a hit that the Mexican government issued a postage stamp featuring Tovar as Santa. A year later, Melford directed Tovar in another Universal picture, East of Borneo (1931) co-starring Rose Hobart.
In 1932, while in Paris to film a movie, Tovar met and became engaged to Universal Pictures executive Paul Kohner. The couple had a daughter, Susan Kohner, now a retired film and television actress. Their grandsons, Chris and Paul Weitz, are successful film directors. She also has two great-grandchildren, Sebastian and Jane.
- The Veiled Woman (1929)
- Joy Street (1929)
- The Cock-Eyed World (1929)
- La voluntad del muerto (1930)
- Carne de cabaret (1931)
- East of Borneo (1931)
- Dracula (Spanish Version) (1931)
- Santa (1931)
- The Invader (1935)
- María (1938)
- The Fighting Gringo (1939)
- Resurrección (1943)
- The Crime Doctor's Courage (1945)
- Lupita Tovar, Mexico's Sultry Screen 'Sweetheart', NPR, Morning Edition, February 15, 2008.
- Los Angeles Times, Wave Of Popularity Sweeping Mexican Stars To Top Goes Marching On, January 27, 1929, Page C11.
- Los Angeles Times, Spanish Stars, February 2, 1930, Page B11.
- Los Angeles Times, Fairbanks To Star In California Tale, March 12, 1930, Page A8.
- Los Angeles Times, First National Buys Story, April 30, 1930, Page 14.
- Los Angeles Times, Universal Chooses Leads, July 23, 1930, Page 6.
- Los Angeles Times, Lupita Tovar Goes Abroad, August 27, 1932, Page 5.
- Olean Herald, Hollywood Sights and Sounds, Saturday Evening, July 20, 1929, Page 4.
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