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Manuel Fernández Urquiza, (January 29, 1920 - December 30, 1987) more commonly known as Manolo Urquiza, was a Cuban-born media personality whose career spanned over three decades. He developed his career as a radio announcer, public relations officer and television presenter, both in his native Cuba and in Puerto Rico, where he became a motion picture presenter on Puerto Rican television.
Born on January 29, 1920 in Trinidad, Cuba, to Jacobo Fernandez (a Spanish immigrant to Cuba who opened the very successful Ce-ci-Bon Bakery in Havana) and Julieta Urquiza. Manolo had two sisters, Flora Fernandez (deceased) and Francisca (Paquita) Fernandez (Santana)(deceased).
Early in his career, Fernández Urquiza dropped his parental surname (Fernández, a rather common one in Cuba) in favor of the relatively more exotic Urquiza (his mother's) for a stage name. Urquiza's career as a radio announcer in Cuba spanned over 15 years.
By sheer coincidence, Urquiza was the very first live human being ever shown on Cuban television when broadcasts started in 1948. As the main press officer for then-president Carlos Prío Socarrás, Urquiza was asked to introduce the country's president, who then gave an opening message for the inaugural broadcast.
In Puerto Rico
After the events of the Cuban Revolution, Urquiza exiled to Puerto Rico in the early 1960s. He worked in advertising, starting with United Promotors with Juan Luis Marquez. Manolo was the account executive for Revlon Cosmetics, Renault and Ron LLave among many others. Later on, he joined Premier Maldonado in a new advertising agency, Premier Maldonado Associates, bringing his main clients with him to this agency. After some very successful years in the advertising field, Manolo formed a production company with fellow Cuban TV producer Tony Chiroldes, purchasing air time in the newly established WRIK-TV, also known as Rikavision, Canal 7. After many years not appearing in television, Manolo came back in front of the TV cameras with his Cine del Hogar" which became an overnight success. After his partnership with Mr. Chiroldes ended, United Artists -the owners of Rikavision- offered Manolo to remain at the station with his nightly show and also offered him the position of director of Public Relations and Advertising for the station.
In association with United Artists, Manolo was able to make the necessary connections to bring various celebrities to the island and to his show. The first celebrity to be interviewed by Manolo was Rita Moreno. Many others followed, including Elliott Gould, Michael Caine, Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin, Jean-Pierre Aumont. . . Silvia Pinal and Enrique Guzman from Mexico and the Grandmother of Mexican Cinema, Miss Sara Garcia. . Eventually Manolo was invited to travel to Hollywood and attend the Academy Awards Ceremony several times. Manolo was also invited to movie sets and press junkets where he would spend a week at a time on different movie sets with directors and actors. He spent a week in New Orleans during the filming of Live and Let Die, Roger Moore's first James Bond movie.
He then was offered to move his show to WKAQ-TV (Telemundo) and was also offered the position of Vice-President of Public Relations and Communications for the station. Manolo, besides continuing with his nightly show, now renamed "Telecine de la Noche became the face and voice of Telemundo besides fulfilling his executive duties and continuing his travels and interviewing celebrities.
As to provide appropriate background comments to the films presented in each broadcast, Urquiza asked film critic Juan Gerard to research and co-produce. He eventually travelled to Hollywood, Las Vegas and Cannes, France to interview various film personalities.
Manolo's once interviewed Sophia Loren. He traveled to New York City to interview her at the Pierre Hotel, where Ms Loren welcomed Manolo and his daughter Lourdes, then living in NY and working as Oscar de la Renta's house model at the time, with open arms. . . At the end of the interview Manolo asked Ms. Loren for a kiss and to his surprise, she held his face with both arms and kissed him on the lips. . . Manolo and Sofia continued a friendly relationship through the years. She later traveled to Puerto Rico to promote her new line of glasses and contacted Manolo and met with him and Manolo's wife Conchita Urquiza (1932–1997), an ex Revlon spokesperson.
Manolo retired from his duties in Telemundo in June 1987 and died in December 1987. Telemundo honored Manolo with a TV Special where various local celebrities and friends of the family spoke about Mr. Urquiza and his career and personal life. Conchita his wife and constant companion died in April 1997. Manolo is survived by his daughter Lourdes Urquiza and grandsons Eric Ellsworth and his wife Alison May Leporatti and their children, his grandchildren; Ella May Bohn (born May 2011), Zachariah Michael Bohn (born March 2013), Alexandrea Day Bohn (Born June 2017), His grandson William Conrad Bohn, his wife Jacklyn Sperdutto-Bohn and their daugheter Ruby Rae Bohn, (born July 2017) and grandson Michael Christian, great grandchildren Ella May Bohn (born May 2011), Zachariah Michael Bohn (born March 2013), Alexandrea Day Bohn (Born June 2017), his niece Flora Figueredo living in Miami, Fl and her sons Luis Gilberto (RIP), Jorge Luis and Angel Luis, her grandchildren and great grandchildren.