Mona Maris

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Mona Maris
Mona Maris.jpg
Born Mona Maria Emita Capdeville or
Maria Rose Amita Capdevielle

(1903-11-07)November 7, 1903
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died March 21, 1991(1991-03-21) (aged 87)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Occupation Actress
Years active 1925-1984
Spouse(s) Clarence Brown
(m. 1929; div. 1931)

Herman Rick
(m. 1960; div. 1969)

Mona Maris (November 7, 1903 – March 23, 1991) was an Argentine film actress who was born in Buenos Aires.

Ancestry and education[edit]

Mona Maris was born Mona Maria Emita Capdeville. Some sources spell her last name as Cap de Vielle,[1] while the reference book Hollywood and the Foreign Touch: A Dictionary of Foreign Filmmakers and Their Films from America, 1910–1995 gives her name as Maria Rose Amita Capdevielle.[2] Her mother was a Spanish Basque and her father a French Catalan.

Orphaned when she was four years old, Maris lived with her grandmother in France and was educated in a convent in France,[3][4] in England, and in Germany. By the age of 19 she spoke four languages — French, German, English and Spanish.[3]

In the April 1930 issue of Picture Play magazine, William H. McKegg wrote that Maris "has assimilated much from each country [in which she has lived]—cynical frankness of the French, the simplicity of the Germans—the romanticism of the Italians, and the independence of the English."[5]


With Carlos Gardel, 1934

Maris' ambition to become an actress originated during World War I, when she was a pupil in Luders, France. Together with her classmates she wrote, directed, and presented short plays to entertain soldiers billeted near the school. After graduation Maris begged to go to England and her mother finally relented. In England she found a woman was given much more freedom than in either Spain or South America. She traveled to England under the indirect chaperonage of an Argentine family.

Her stay was intended to last only six months, but was extended another two years. The Argentine ambassador in Berlin received a letter which led to Maris being introduced to the President of the United Film Association. Soon she journeyed to Germany, where she participated in Universum Film AG productions. She was given a screen test during which the camera was not loaded with film. A prominent director noticed Maris and offered her a five-year contract. She counseled with her grandmother, who reluctantly allowed her to accept.

Maris' screen debut was in the German film Los Esclavos del Volga, directed by Richard Eichberg.[6] (The book Hollywood—Se Habla Español says, "Maris' film career began with the 1925 silent movie The Apache",[1] while a 1985 Associated Press newspaper article said, "She first appeared in the British-made movie, The Little People in 1924.")[3] Jorge Finkielman wrote about her performance in his book, The Film Industry in Argentina: An Illustrated Cultural History: "Her portrayal of the character Tatiana showed that she was an actress who could be expected to turn out noteworthy performances."[6]

Joseph Schenck, president of United Artists, granted her the prospect of a Hollywood career.[7] At the time she had completed just four films in Germany. Her Hollywood film career began with the 1925 movie The Apache.

Described by Life as "a living testament to the Good Neighbor Policy", Maris resumed her Hollywood career in 1941 with the film Flight from Destiny, and she informally advised studios on authenticity in films marketed to South America.[8]

It was her inability to speak fluent English which interrupted, and nearly ended Maris' film career. Spanish, French, and German came easily for her, but in the early years of talkies, her English was almost unintelligible. [a] From 1931 until 1941 she starred in 19 Spanish-language versions of successful American pictures, which were produced by the Fox Film Company. Maris also appeared in seven English dialogue motion pictures for three studios. While in Hollywood, she worked with Buster Keaton, Gilbert Roland, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Pickford, Leslie Howard, Cary Grant, Bela Lugosi and Victor Mature to name a few.

In 1985, Maris described her image as an actress. "They used to hiss whenever I was on screen," she said. "I was always playing the heavy. Here (in Argentina) when they need a heavy, they get an English girl. There (in the United States), when they needed a heavy, it was the Spanish girl."[3]

Maris remained active at age 81, in the role of "a disturbed, broken-hearted grandmother" in the film Camila (1984), which was described as "the most successful Argentine film in decades."[3]

Personal life[edit]

She was married twice. Her first marriage took place while she was working in Europe and was terminated before she travelled to the United States, and her second marriage was to Clarence Brown.

Mona Maris died of lung disease in Buenos Aires on March 23, 1991.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ However, the 1930 article about her in Picture Play magazine contains the comment, "Her English is excellent, although she speaks with an accent."[5]:112


  1. ^ a b Viruet, Rafael J. Rivera; Resto, Max (2008). Hollywood—Se Habla Español. Terramax Entertainment. p. 108. ISBN 9780981665009. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  2. ^ Waldman, Harry; Slide, Anthony (1996). Hollywood and the Foreign Touch: A Dictionary of Foreign Filmmakers and Their Films from America, 1910–1995. Scarecrow Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780810831926. Retrieved 2 October 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Beard, David (July 5, 1985). "'Other Woman' Makes Comeback at 81". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 2 October 2016. 
  4. ^ Dickstein, Martin (October 17, 1929). "The Cinema Circuit". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. p. 23. Retrieved October 2, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ a b McKegg, William H. (April 1930). "Her Endless Hunt". Picture Play. 32 (2): 31–32, 112. 
  6. ^ a b Finkielman, Jorge (2003). The Film Industry in Argentina: An Illustrated Cultural History. McFarland. p. 76. ISBN 9780786483440. Retrieved 2 October 2016. 
  7. ^ Merrick, Mollie (January 15, 1929). "Tall Girl from Vienna in Films". Lincoln Evening Journal. Nebraska, Lincoln. N.A.N.A. p. 8. Retrieved October 2, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  8. ^ "Latin Ladies". Life. Vol. 10 no. 5. February 3, 1941. p. 51. Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  • Frederick Post, Hollywood, Tuesday Morning, August 26, 1941, Page 4.
  • Los Angeles Times, "Argentine Film Actress Given Welcome Here", January 1, 1929, Page A1.
  • Los Angeles Times, "Mona Maris Gives Recipe for Foreign Actress to Get By Successfully in Hollywood", December 29, 1929, Page B11.

External links[edit]