Míriam Colón Valle
20 August 1936
|Died||3 March 2017 (aged 80)|
New York City, U.S.
|Known for||Mama Montana – Scarface|
George Paul Edgar
(m. 1966; died 1976)
Míriam Colón Valle (August 20, 1936 – March 3, 2017) was a Puerto Rican actress. She was the founder and director of New York City's Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. Beginning her career in the early 1950s, she performed on Broadway and on television. She appeared on television programs from the 1960s to the 2010s, including Sanford and Son and Gunsmoke. She is best known as Mama Montana, the mother of Al Pacino's title character in Scarface. In 2014, she received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. She died of complications from a pulmonary infection on March 3, 2017, at the age of 80.
Míriam Colón Valle was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on August 20, 1936. In the 1940s, her recently divorced mother moved the family to a public housing project called Residencial Las Casas in San Juan. She attended Román Baldorioty de Castro High School in Old San Juan, where she took part in plays. Her first drama teacher, Marcos Colón (no relation) believed in her talent, and helped her gain permission to observe the students in the drama department of the University of Puerto Rico. She was a good student in high school and was awarded scholarships to the Dramatic Workshop and Technical Institute and Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in New York City.
In 1953, Colón debuted as an actress in Los Peloteros (The Baseball Players), a film produced in Puerto Rico, starring Ramón "Diplo" Rivero, and in which she played a character called Lolita. That year, she moved to New York City, where she was accepted by Actors Studio co-founder Elia Kazan after a single audition, thus becoming the studio's first Puerto Rican member. In New York, she worked in theater and later landed a role on the soap opera Guiding Light. She attended a performance of René Marqués' La Carreta (The Oxcart) which motivated her to form the first Hispanic theater group, with the help of La Carreta's producer, Roberto Rodríguez, called "El Circuito Dramático".
In 1954, she appeared on stage in "In The Summer House" at the Play House in New York City. Between 1954 and 1974, she made guest appearances in television shows such as Peter Gunn and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. She appeared mostly in westerns such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The High Chaparral, and Have Gun, Will Travel. She appeared in the 1961 film One-eyed Jacks as "the Redhead". In 1962, she was featured as the co-star in a teleplay written by Frank Gabrielsen, and produced for the TV series The DuPont Show of the Week. The title of the hour-long episode is "The Richest Man in Bogota", airing on 17 June 1962. It starred Lee Marvin as Juan de Núñez, and Miriam Colón as "Marina" (not Medina-Saroté, as in the original H.G. Wells story, The Country of the Blind). She co-starred as Anita Chavez in Thunder Island (1963), with the screenplay written by Jack Nicholson. In 1963, she guest starred on Gunsmoke, playing the title character, a Comanche woman who marries a settler and the two must deal with the racial hatred of others due to it in the episode “Shona” (S8E22).
In 1979, she starred alongside fellow Puerto Rican actors José Ferrer, Raúl Juliá, and Henry Darrow in Life of Sin, a film in which she portrayed Isabel la Negra, a real-life Puerto Rican brothel owner. In 1983, she was cast as the mother of Tony Montana in Scarface, despite being only 4 years older than Al Pacino. Colón has said that she based her performance on her own mother. She was also cast as María in the 1999 film Gloria, starring Sharon Stone. In 2013, she was cast in the role of Ultima, a New Mexico Hispanic healer, in the movie Bless Me, Ultima based on the novel by Rudolfo Anaya. She appeared in Season 1 of the TV series Better Call Saul in 2015, as Abuelita.
Puerto Rican Traveling Theater
In the late 1960s, Colón founded The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater company on West 47th street in Manhattan, New York. The company presents Off-Broadway productions onsite and also goes on tour. She was the director of the company and she appeared in the following PRTT productions:
The play The Ox Cart (La Carreta), written by Puerto Rican dramatist René Marqués, was first produced in 1953. It was directed by Roberto Rodríguez and starred Colón. The success of the play allowed Rodríguez and Colón to form the first permanent Hispanic theatrical group, and for the group to have its own space, Teatro Arena, located in Manhattan on Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th street.
Colón's biography, Míriam Colón: Actor and Theater Founder, was written by Mayra Fernandez in 1994.
In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Colón the National Medal of Arts for her contributions as an actress. The citation reads as follows: "Ms. Colón has been a trailblazer in film, television, and theater, and helped open doors for generations of Hispanic actors."
Colón was married to George Paul Edgar from 1966 until his death in 1976. In 1987, she married Fred Valle.
She was an avid collector of ancestral arts including pre-Columbian, tribal African, historic Native American, and other tribal art. She collected Mid-East artifacts, abstract paintings, and modern sculpture. A signed Pablo Picasso sketch in crayon that she owned was auctioned for $6500 on June 16, 2019. At her death, she owned at least six signed movie posters of Al Pacino's Scarface and at least seven signed Scarface soundtrack albums.
Her final years were in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Colón died on March 3, 2017, at the age of 80, in New York City of complications from a pulmonary infection. Among those who paid tribute to her were Rosalba Rolón, Marc Anthony (who she had coached as an actor and briefly appeared with on television), and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- 1951 Los Peloteros as Lolita
- 1955 Danger (TV Series)
- 1955 Star Tonight (TV Series)
- 1956 Crowded Paradise
- 1956 Soraya (TV Series, three episodes)
- 1957 The Big Story (TV Series) as Esperanza Martinez
- 1958 Decoy (TV Series) as Maria
- 1956-1958 Studio One (TV Series) as Mrs. Talavera / Rosie
- 1959 Lux Playhouse (TV Series) as Mrs. Flores
- 1959 State Trooper (TV Series, Episode, Case of the Barefoot Girl) as Francesca
- 1959 One Step Beyond (TV Series, Episode - The Hand) as Alma Rodriguez
- 1959 Markham (TV Series) as Esperanza
- 1959 Mike Hammer (TV Series) as Tarano
- 1959 Peter Gunn (TV Series) as Maria DeCara
- 1959 Tales of Wells Fargo (TV Series, Episode - Desert Showdown) as Rita
- 1959 Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV Series, Episode - Desert Seed) as Mrs. Gomez
- 1961 One-eyed Jacks as Redheaded Lady
- 1961 Battle at Bloody Beach as Nahni
- 1961 The Outsider as Anita
- 1962 Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV Series, Episode - Strange Miracle) as Lolla
- 1962 The New Breed (TV Series) as Dolores Madero
- 1962 The Richest Man in Bogota (TV Series, on The DuPont Show of the Week) as Marina
- 1962 Doctor Kildare (TV Series) as Pila / Rani Stewart
- 1962 The Defenders (TV Series) as Carmella Lopez
- 1962 Gunsmoke (TV Series, Episode - He Learned About Women) as Kisla
- 1963 Have Gun - Will Travel (TV Series) as Punya
- 1963 Laramie (TV Series) as Winema
- 1963 Death Valley Days (TV Series) as Maria
- 1963 Harbor Lights as Gina Rosario
- 1963 Ben Casey (TV Series) as Eva Rosario
- 1963 The Great Adventure (TV Series) as Sarah Crow
- 1963 Thunder Island as Anita Chavez
- 1963 The Dick Van Dyke Show (TV Series) as Maria
- 1963 Gunsmoke (TV Series, Episode - Shona) as Shona
- 1964 The Nurses (TV Series) as Maria Marissa
- 1964 Slattery's People (TV Series) as Elena Delgado
- 1966 The Legend of Jesse James (TV Series) as Theresa
- 1966 The Appaloosa as Ana
- 1967 N.Y.P.D. (TV Series) as Teresa
- 1967 The Fugitive (TV Series) as Mercedes Anza
- 1967 The Virginian (TV Series) as Eva Talbot
- 1967 Christmas in the Marketplace (TV Movie) as Virgin Mary / Mercedes
- 1968 The High Chaparral (TV Series, Episode - “Follow Your Heart”) as Trini Butler
- 1968 Gunsmoke (TV Series, Episode - Zavala) as Amelita Avila
- 1969 Desperate Mission (TV Movie) as Claudina, Otilia's Servant
- 1969 Bonanza (TV Series) as Anita Lavez
- 1969 Gunsmoke (TV Series, Episode - Charlie Moon) as The Woman
- 1970 Gunsmoke (TV Series, Episode - Chato) as Mora
- 1971 They Call It Murder (TV Movie) as Anita Nogales
- 1972 Gunsmoke (TV Series, Episode - The River) as Paulette
- 1972 The Possession of Joel Delaney as Veronica
- 1974 Dr. Max (TV Movie) as Mrs. Camacho
- 1974 Sanford & Son (TV Series, Episode - Julio and Sister and Nephew) as Carlotta
- 1974 Gunsmoke (TV Series, Episode - The Iron Blood of Courage) as Mignon
- 1976 The Hemingway Play (TV Movie)
- 1979 A Life of Sin as Isabel
- 1979 The Edge of Night (TV soap opera) as Dr. Marie Santos
- 1981 Back Roads as Angel
- 1981 ABC Afterschool Specials (TV Series) as Yolanda
- 1983 Scarface (1983) as Mama Georgina Montana
- 1984 Best Kept Secret (TV Movie) as Ina Dietz
- 1985 Lady Blue (TV Series) as Dona Maria
- 1986 Kay O'Brien (TV Series) as Mrs. Amaro
- 1987 Highway to Heaven (TV Series) as Anna Martinez
- 1988 Deadline: Madrid (TV Movie)
- 1991 L.A. Law (TV Series) as Gaby Sifuentes
- 1991 Law and Order (TV Series) as Mrs. Anna Rivers
- 1991 Lightning Field (TV Movie)
- 1991 City of Hope as Mrs. Ramirez
- 1992 Murder, She Wrote (TV Series, Episode - Day of the Dead) as Consuela Montejano
- 1993 The House of the Spirits as Nana
- 1994 The Cosby Mysteries (TV Series)
- 1994 NYPD Blue (TV Series) as Valeria Santiago
- 1995 Streets of Laredo (TV Mini-Series) as Estrella
- 1995 Sabrina as Rosa
- 1995 All My Children (TV soap opera) as Lydia Flores
- 1996 Edipo alcalde as Deyanira
- 1996 Lone Star as Mercedes Cruz
- 1996 Mistrial (TV Movie) as Mrs. Cruz
- 1996 Cosby (TV Series) as Lillian
- 1996-1997 One Life to Live (TV soap opera) as Abuelita Maria Delgado
- 1999 Gloria as María
- 2000 For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story (TV Movie) as Cirita Sandoval
- 2000 All the Pretty Horses as Doña Alfonsa
- 2001 Third Watch (2001, TV Series) as Theresa Caffey
- 2001 The Blue Diner as Meche
- 2001 Guiding Light (TV soap opera) as Maria Santos
- 2001 Almost a Woman (TV Movie) as Tata
- 2005 Jonny Zero (TV Series) as Lupe
- 2005 Goal! as Mercedes
- 2007 Goal! 2: Living the Dream... as Mercedes
- 2007 The Cry as Gloria The Curandera
- 2009 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (TV Series) as Yolanda
- 2009 Goal! 3: Taking on the World as Mercedes (uncredited)
- 2010-2011 How to Make It in America (TV Series) as Cam's Grandma
- 2011 Gun Hill Road as Gloria
- 2011 The Bay (TV Series) as Grandma Andrews
- 2011 Hawthorne (TV Series) as Mama Renata
- 2011 Foreverland as Esperanza
- 2013 Bless Me, Ultima as Ultima
- 2013 Unhallowed as Bruja (rumored)
- 2014 Top Five as Chelsea's Grandmother
- 2014 On Painted Wings (not distributed) as Manuela
- 2015 Better Call Saul (TV Series) as Abuelita Salamanca
- 2015 The Girl Is in Trouble as Grandma
- 2015 The Southside as Abuelita Sanchez
- In The Summer House (1954)
- The Innkeepers (1956)
- The Wrong Way Lightbulb (1969)
- "Miriam Colón". www.arts.gov.
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- "Miriam Colón". Archived from the original on 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "Miriam Colón: pionera de la cultura". El Nuevo Día. March 4, 2017.
- Bosworth 1971, p. D5.
- Garfield 1980, p. 277.
- Moreno 1989, p. 30.
- "Danny en 'Coincidencias'… y en San Juan". 31 October 2014.
- "Miriam Colon Biography (1945-)". Film Reference Library. Toronto: TIFF Bell Lightbox. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- "The Richest Man in Bogota". TV Guide. Vol. 10, no. 24. June 16–22, 1962.
- Gates, Anita (March 5, 2017). "Miriam Colón, 80, Actress and Founder of Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Dies". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- "Miriam Colon, iconic U.S. Latina movie, theater actress, dies at 80". Daily News. New York City: Daily News, L.P. Associated Press. March 3, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- "The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater". Archived from the original on 2016-08-13. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- The Ox Cart at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- The Boiler Room at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Kanellos, Nicolás (2003). Hispanic Literature of the United States: A Comprehensive Reference. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 273.
- Contreras, Russell (March 3, 2017). "U.S. News: Miriam Colón, Iconic US Latina Movie, Theater Actress, Dies". U.S. News & World Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. News & World Report, L.P. Associated Press. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
- Rolón, Rosalba (9 March 2017). "Miriam Colón: Opening Doors". American Theatre. Theatre Communications Group. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
- Bosworth, Patricia (September 12, 1971). "'Look, Let's Have Justice Around Here'". The New York Times. New York City. p. D5. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
- Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York City: MacMillan. p. 277. ISBN 978-0025426504.
- Moreno, Sylvia (June 13, 1989). "Lessons Feature Hispanic 'Heroes'". Newsday. Melville, New York: Patrick & Charles Dolan and Altice USA. p. 30. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- Míriam Colón at IMDb
- Míriam Colón at AllMovie
- Míriam Colón at the Internet Broadway Database
- Miriam Colón bio at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater
- Miriam Colon's Interview on NBC Latino Archived 2015-11-19 at the Wayback Machine
- Miriam Colon Interview at the WNYC Archives