Maria Montez

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María Montez
Born María África Gracia Vidal
(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
Occupation actress
Years active 1940-1951
Spouse(s) William McFeeters (m. 1932; div. 1939)
Jean-Pierre Aumont (m. 1943–51)
Children Tina Aumont
Awards Order of Merit of Juan Pablo Duarte (1943)[1]

María África Gracia Vidal (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.[2] 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.[1] In the book, "Maria Montez, Su Vida"[3] by Margarita Vicens de Morales, 2003 edition, on page 26, there is a copy of Maria Montez birth certificate proving that her original name was Maria Africa Gracia Vidal. Her father's name was Isidoro Gracia (not Garcia) and her mother's name was Teresa Vidal. On page 54, there is a copy of a fake biography made by Universal Pictures, where it says that Maria Montez was educated in Tenerife and that she lived in Ireland, which was never true. Maria Montez lived the first 27 years of her life in the Dominican Republic.


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.

Montez went on suspension for refusing the lead in Frontier Gal; her role was taken by Yvonne De Carlo who had become a similar sort of star and began to supplant Montez's position at the studio.[4]

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.[5] They married when Montez was 17 years old and later divorced.[1]

While working in Hollywood, she met French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont. They married on 14 July 1943 at Montez's home in Beverly Hills.[6] 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.[1]


The 39-year-old Montez died in Suresnes, France on 7 September 1951 after apparently suffering a heart attack and drowning in her bath.[7][8] 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).


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.[7]

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.[9]

In Dominican Republic she received the decoration with the Order of Juan Pablo Duarte in the Grade of Officer and the Order of Trujillo in the same grade, which was given by the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in November, 1943.

In 1944 she was promoted as Goodwill Ambassador of Latin American countries to the United States in the so-called Good Neighbor policy.

The authors Terenci Moix and Antonio Perez Arnay wrote a book that recounted her life and review her films, with the title of “Maria Montez. The Queen of Technicolor.”

CERTV studies, Dominican television channel, bears her name, as well as a street in the city of Barahona, her birthplace, was named in her honor.

The Dominican painter Angel Haché included in his collection “Tribute to Film,” a trilogy of Maria Montez and another Dominican painter, Adolfo Piantini, who dedicated in 1983, an exhibit to the actress that included 26 paintings which were made in different techniques.

In 2012, they put her name to a train station of the Line 2 of the Metro of Santo Domingo.

In March, the Casandra Awards 2012 was dedicated to Maria Montez for the centenary of her birth.

Dalia Davi, Puerto Rican actress from the Bronx, created in 2011 a play called "The Queen of Technicolor Maria Montez," written and directed by Dalia who also stars in the play as well.[10]

The journalist and Dominican actress Celinés Toribio stars as Montez (2015) in the film "Maria Montez: The Movie", Toribio is also the executive producer.

In 1998, the TV Show "Mysteries and Scandals" [11] made an episode about Maria Montez.

Maria Montez is mentioned by name in both the play (1968) and movie (1970) versions of The Boys in the Band.


Unmade films[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Life and Times of Maria Montez". 
  2. ^ Hadley-García, George (1991). Hispanic Hollywood: The Latins in Motion Pictures. Carol Pub. Group. p. 114. ISBN 0-806-51185-0. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ SCREEN NEWS: TO AID ACTORS FUND Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Apr 1945: 22.
  5. ^ Ruíz, Vicki; Sánchez Korrol, Virginia (2006). Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. Indiana University Press. p. 485. ISBN 0-253-34681-9. 
  6. ^ "Maria Montez Weds French Actor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. July 14, 1943. p. 5. 
  7. ^ a b Ruíz, Vicki; Sánchez Korrol, Virginia. Latinas in the United States. Indiana University Press. pp. 486–487. ISBN 0-253-34680-0. 
  8. ^ The New York Times
  9. ^ Senses of Cinema
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Moreira, Renan (1941-11-21). "Maria Montez Visits Tech Campus; Regards Students 'As Typical College Men'". The Technique. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  13. ^ Douglas MacLean Wins Film Producer Post: Gwenn to Act Diplomat Ross-Krasna Story Set Maria Montez Assigned 'Miss Arkansas' Sought Edwards in 'Power Dive' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Jan 1941: 13.

External links[edit]