Jurado in 1953
María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García
January 16, 1924
|Died||July 5, 2002 (aged 78)|
|Resting place||Panteón de la Paz, Cuernavaca, Mexico|
María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García (16 January 1924 – 5 July 2002), better known as Katy Jurado, was a Mexican actress of film, television, and theater. Jurado began her acting career in Mexico. She achieved some renown in her country's cinema during the period known as the Golden Age of Mexican cinema (1940s–1950s). In 1951, she was discovered by American filmmakers in Mexico and began her Hollywood career. She acted in notable Western films of the 1950s and 1960s. An exotic beauty, Jurado specialized in interpretations of complex, stereotyped and sexualized women. Her talent for playing a variety of characters helped pave the way for Mexican actresses in American cinema. She was the first Latin American actress nominated for an Oscar, as Best Supporting Actress for her work in Broken Lance (1954), and was the first to win a Golden Globe Award, for her performance in High Noon (1952).
Life and career
Childhood and Mexican films (1924–1951)
María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García, known from early childhood as "Katy", was born on January 16, 1924, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, the daughter of Luis Jurado Ochoa, a lawyer, and Vicenta García, a singer. Jurado's younger brothers were Luis Raúl and Óscar Sergio. Her mother was a singer who worked for the Mexican radio station XEW (the oldest radio station in Latin America). Her mother was sister of Mexican musician Belisario de Jesús García, author of popular Mexican songs such as "Las Cuatro Milpas". Jurado's cousin Emilio Portes Gil was President of Mexico (1928–1930).
Jurado studied at a school run by nuns in the Guadalupe Inn neighborhood of Mexico City, and later studied to be a bilingual secretary. As a teenager, she was invited to work as an actress by producers and filmmakers, among them Emilio Fernández, who offered her a role in his first movie, The Isle of Passion (1941). Although her godfather was Mexican actor Pedro Armendáriz, her parents never gave their consent. Another filmmaker interested in her was Mauricio de la Serna, who offered her a role in the film No matarás (1943). She signed the contract without authorization from her parents, and when they found out, they threatened to send her to a boarding school in Monterrey. Around this time she met the aspiring actor Víctor Velázquez and married him soon afterwards. Her marriage was largely motivated by the desire to continue a career as an actress and to escape the yoke of her parents. Velazquez was the father of her children, Victor Hugo and Sandra. The marriage ended in 1943, shortly after Jurado began her film career.
No matarás was the first in a series of Mexican films in which Jurado exploited her exotic beauty. She specialized in playing wicked and seductive women. Jurado said:
"I knew that my body was provocative, but also that I was not beautiful, although yes, I admit, my physique was different and very sensual."
She appeared in sixteen more films over the next seven years in what film historians have named the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. She acted alongside acclaimed Mexican film stars such as Pedro Infante, Sara Montiel, Pedro Armendáriz and many others. In 1953 she starred in Luis Buñuel's film El Bruto, for which she received an Ariel Award for Best Supporting Actress, Mexico's equivalent of an Academy Award.
Success in Hollywood (1951–1968)
In addition to acting, Jurado worked as a movie columnist, radio reporter and bullfight critic to support her family. She was on assignment when filmmaker Budd Boetticher and actor John Wayne spotted her at a bullfight. Neither knew she was an actress. However, Boetticher, who was also a professional bullfighter, cast Jurado in his 1951 film Bullfighter and the Lady, opposite Gilbert Roland, as the wife of an aging matador. She had rudimentary English language skills, and memorized and delivered her lines phonetically. Despite this handicap, her strong performance brought her to the attention of Hollywood producer Stanley Kramer, who cast her in the classic Western High Noon (1952), starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Jurado learned to speak English for the role, studying and taking classes two hours a day for two months. She played saloon owner Helen Ramírez, former love of reluctant hero Cooper's Will Kane. She earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and gained notice in the American movie industry. In 1953 she had a role in Arrowhead with Charlton Heston and Jack Palance, playing an evil Comanche woman, the love interest of Heston's character.
In 1954, Jurado was chosen to play Spencer Tracy's Comanche wife in the film Broken Lance, directed by Edward Dmytryk. The role had originally been intended for Dolores del Río, but the U.S. government, accusing del Rio of being a communist sympathizer at the height of the McCarthy era, refused permission for her to work in the United States. Jurado was then selected for the role, despite the resistance of the studio because of her youth. But after viewing footage of her scenes, studio executives were impressed and their objections vanished. Her performance garnered an Academy Award nomination. Jurado was the first Latin American actress to compete for the Oscar statuette.
In the same year, Jurado appeared with Kirk Douglas in the Henry Hathaway film The Racers. In 1955, Jurado filmed Trial, directed by Mark Robson, with Glenn Ford. It was a drama about a Mexican boy accused of raping a white girl, with Jurado playing the mother of the accused. For this role she was again nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. In the same year, she traveled to Italy for the filming of Trapeze, directed by Carol Reed, with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.
As Jurado's Hollywood career continued, she specialized more in Western films. She participated in Man from Del Rio (1956), opposite Anthony Quinn, and Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957) with Barry Sullivan. In 1957 she debuted on television with a guest appearance in an episode of Playhouse 90. In 1959 she acted in an episode of The Rifleman, written and directed by Sam Peckinpah. In 1958, she acted in The Badlanders, with Alan Ladd and Ernest Borgnine, with whom Jurado was already in a relationship. In 1959, Marlon Brando, with whom Jurado maintained a close friendship, invited her to participate in One-Eyed Jacks, his first film as director. After marrying Borgnine, they founded their own production company called Sanvio Corp. The couple traveled to Italy, where they partnered with the producer Dino de Laurentiis in Barabbas (where both acted together with Anthony Quinn), and I braganti Italiani, directed by Mario Camerini.
In 1961, Jurado returned to Mexico and filmed Y dios la llamó Tierra (1961) and La Bandida (1963).
Her stormy marriage with Borgnine ended in 1963. Depressed, Jurado returned to Mexico and established her residence in the city of Cuernavaca.
In 1965, Jurado returned to Hollywood for the film Smoky, directed by George Sherman, starring Fess Parker. In 1966, she played the mother of George Maharis's character in A Covenant with Death. In 1968 she appeared in the film Stay Away, Joe in the role of the half-Apache stepmother of Elvis Presley's character.
Later years (1970–2002)
In the next years Jurado alternated her work between Hollywood and Mexico. In 1970 she filmed The Bridge in the Jungle, opposite John Huston. In 1973 she appeared in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, directed by Sam Peckinpah, playing the wife of Slim Pickens's character.
Jurado received one of her best dramatic roles in the third of the three short stories comprising the Mexican film Fé, Esperanza y Caridad (1973). Directed by Jorge Fons, Jurado was cast as a lower-class woman who suffers a series of bureaucratic abuses as she tries to claim the remains of her dead husband. For this performance she won the Ariel Award for Best Actress, her second Silver Ariel Award of the Mexican Cinema.
In 1974, Jurado appeared in the American film Once Upon a Scoundrel (1974), opposite the American comedian Zero Mostel. In 1975 she participated in the social criticism film Los albañiles, again directed by Jorge Fons. The film was awarded the Golden Bear of the Berlinale 1975. In 1976 she played the role of "Chuchupe" in the film Pantaleón y Las Visitadoras, an adaptation of the novel Captain Pantoja and the Special Service by Mario Vargas Llosa, who also directed the film. In 1978 she played a small role in the film The Children of Sanchez, opposite Anthony Quinn and Dolores del Rio. Jurado also appeared on television frequently in the 1970s.
Her son Victor Hugo died tragically in an accident on a highway near Monterrey in 1981. This tragedy plunged her into a deep depression that she could never overcome and led her to abandon her acting career for a few years. She later commented:
When my son died I was filming a movie in Mexico. He took with him half of my life. I could not mourn him as I wanted. I went to the funeral and I had to return to film the movie. Every day when I saw the camera I hated her. I dedicated to the films a wonderful time I should have given to my children, but it was too late."
In 1984, John Huston convinced her to resume her career as an actress. She acted in Huston's film Under the Volcano. In the same year she co-starred in the short-lived television series a.k.a. Pablo, a situation comedy series for ABC, with Paul Rodriguez.
In the 1990s, Jurado appeared in two Mexican telenovelas. In 1992, she was honored with the Golden Boot Award for her notable contribution to the Western genre. In 1998, she completed a timely Spanish-language film for director Arturo Ripstein called El Evangelio de las Maravillas, about a millennium sect. She won her second Ariel Award for Best Supporting Actress for this role.
Jurado's first husband was the Mexican actor Victor Velázquez (the stepfather of the popular Mexican actresses Tere and Lorena Velázquez). With Velázquez she had two children, Víctor Hugo (d. 1981) and Sandra.
Marlon Brando was smitten with Jurado after seeing her in High Noon. They met when Brando was in Mexico filming Viva Zapata! (1952). He was involved at the time with Movita Castaneda, and was having a parallel relationship with Rita Moreno. Brando told Joseph L. Mankiewicz that he was attracted to "her enigmatic eyes, black as hell, pointing at you like fiery arrows". Jurado commented:
Marlon called me one night for a date, and I accepted. I knew all about Movita. I knew he had a thing for Rita Moreno. Hell, it was just a date. I didn't plan to marry him.
During the filming of the movie Vera Cruz (1954) in México, Jurado met the American actor Ernest Borgnine, who became her second husband on December 31, 1959. Although initially their relationship was harmonious, the situation became complicated after their marriage. The temperament of both led to numerous violent confrontations, some of which were documented by the newspapers of the time. Jurado claimed to have suffered physical violence from Borgnine during their marriage. Jurado and Borgnine finally divorced in 1963.
Jurado claimed to have been one of the first people to find the body of Mexican actress Miroslava Stern after her tragic suicide. According to Jurado, the picture that Miroslava had between her hands was of Cantinflas, but artistic manager Fanny Schatz exchanged the photo for one of the Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín.
Death and legacy
Towards the end of her life, Jurado suffered from heart and lung ailments. She died of kidney failure and pulmonary disease on 5 July 2002, at the age of 78, at her home in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. She was buried in Cuernavaca at the Panteón de la Paz cemetery.
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