Maria Montez

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María Montez
Maria-montez.jpg
Born María Antonia García Vidal de Santo Silas
(1912-06-06)6 June 1912
Barahona, Dominican Republic
Died 7 September 1951(1951-09-07) (aged 39)
Suresnes, France
Cause of death
Heart attack and drowning
Resting place
Cimetière du Montparnasse
Years active 1940-1951
Spouse(s) William McFeeters (m. 1932; div. 1939)
Jean-Pierre Aumont (m. 1943–51)
Children Tina Aumont

María Antonia García Vidal de Santo Silas (6 June 1912 – 7 September 1951) was a Dominican motion picture actress who gained fame and popularity in the 1940s as an exotic beauty starring in a series of filmed-in-Technicolor costume adventure films. Her screen image was that of a hot-blooded Latin seductress, dressed in fanciful costumes and sparkling jewels. She became so identified with these adventure epics that she became known as "The Queen of Technicolor." Over her career, Montez appeared in 26 films, 21 of which were made in North America and five in Europe.

Early life[edit]

Montez was born María Antonia García Vidal de Santo Silas (some sources cite María África Gracia Vidal or María África Antonia García Vidal de Santo Silas as her birth name) in Barahona, Dominican Republic.[1] She was one of ten children born to Ysidoro García, who worked as the Spanish consul in Dominican Republic, and his wife Teresa. Montez was educated at the Sacred Heart Convent in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. In the mid-1930s, her father was appointed to the Spanish consulship in Belfast, Northern Ireland where the family moved. It was there that Montez met her first husband, William G. McFeeters, whom she married at age 17.[2]

Career[edit]

From the trailer of the film Cobra Woman (1944)

Her beauty soon made her the centerpiece of Universal's Technicolor costume adventures, notably the six in which she was teamed with Jon HallArabian Nights (1942), White Savage (1943), Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944), Cobra Woman (1944), Gypsy Wildcat (1944), and Sudan (1945). Montez also appeared in the Technicolor western Pirates of Monterey (1947) with Rod Cameron and the sepia-toned swashbuckler The Exile (1948), directed by Max Ophüls and starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

By the early 1950s, Montez's career in the United States began to wane due to audiences' changing taste in films. Montez and her second husband, French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont, then moved to a home in Suresnes, Île-de-France in the western suburb of Paris under the French Fourth Republic. There, Montez appeared in several films and a play written by her husband. She also wrote three books, two of which were published, as well as penning a number of poems.

Personal life[edit]

Montez was married twice. Her first marriage was to William G. McFeeters, a wealthy banker who served in the British army.[3] They married when Montez was 17 years old and later divorced.[2]

While working in Hollywood, she met French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont. They married on 14 July 1943 at Montez's home in Beverly Hills.[4] Aumont had to leave a few days after their wedding to serve in the Free French Forces fighting against Nazi Germany in the European Theatre of World War II. At the end of World War II, the couple had a daughter, Maria Christina (also known as Tina Aumont), born in Hollywood on 14 February 1946.[2]

Death[edit]

The 39-year-old Montez died in Suresnes, France on 7 September 1951 after apparently suffering a heart attack and drowning in her bath.[5][6] She was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris where her tombstone gives her amended year of birth (1918), not the actual year of birth (1912).

Legacy[edit]

Publicity photography of Maria Montez for an Argentine magazine

Shortly after her death, a street in the city of Barahona, Montez's birthplace, was named in her honor.[5]

In 1976, Margarita Vicens de Morales publishes a series of articles in the Dominican newspaper Listín Diario, in its magazine called Suplemento, where she presented the results of the research she was carrying out in order to get to the real life story of Montez. The research culminated in 1992 with the publication of the biography Maria Montez, Su Vida. After the first edition, a second edition was published in 1994 and a third in 2004.

In 1995, Maria Montez was awarded the International Posthumous Cassandra, which was received by her daughter, Tina Aumont.

In 1996, the city of Barahona opened the Aeropuerto Internacional María Montez (María Montez International Airport) in her honor.

The American underground filmmaker Jack Smith idolized Montez as an icon of camp style. He wrote an aesthetic manifesto titled "The Perfect Filmic Appositeness of Maria Montez", and made elaborate homages to her movies in his own films, including the notorious Flaming Creatures.[7]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hadley-García, George (1991). Hispanic Hollywood: The Latins in Motion Pictures. Carol Pub. Group. p. 114. ISBN 0-806-51185-0. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Life and Times of Maria Montez". glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. 
  3. ^ Ruíz, Vicki; Sánchez Korrol, Virginia (2006). Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. Indiana University Press. p. 485. ISBN 0-253-34681-9. 
  4. ^ "Maria Montez Weds French Actor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. July 14, 1943. p. 5. 
  5. ^ a b Ruíz, Vicki; Sánchez Korrol, Virginia. Latinas in the United States. Indiana University Press. pp. 486–487. ISBN 0-253-34680-0. 
  6. ^ The New York Times
  7. ^ Senses of Cinema
  8. ^ Moreira, Renan (1941-11-21). "Maria Montez Visits Tech Campus; Regards Students 'As Typical College Men'". The Technique. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 

External links[edit]