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August 6, 1910|
Lerdo, Durango, Mexico
|Died||April 30, 1996
Rosaura Revueltas Sánchez (August 6, 1910 – April 30, 1996) was a Mexican star of screen and stage, and a dancer, author and teacher.
She studied acting and ballet in Mexico City, and made many movies in Mexico. During the filming of her sole United States film, Salt of the Earth, about striking Mexican-American miners in New Mexico, she was arrested and deported back to Mexico. Afterwards, she was put on Hollywood blacklist for her role in the film.
Revueltas' first film was La Deconocida de Arras (1946). In 1951 she played Rosa Suárez, viuda de Ortiz (the widow of Ortiz) in the film Islas Marías, starring Pedro Infante.
In 1953's Sombrero, Revueltas played Tía Magdalena. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called it "a big, broad-brimmed, squashy sort of picture, as massive as the garment for which it is named". The movie for which she is probably best-known is Herbert J. Biberman's Salt of the Earth (1954). The movie was based on the 1951 Empire Zinc strike in Grant County, New Mexico. She played the role of Esperanza Quintero, the wife of a mine worker. Crowther called her "lean and dynamic" in this role. In this film, Esperanza’s husband and fellow miners decide to go on strike, and in turn their wives do the same in order to support their spouses and gain rights of their own.
Revueltas was not Biberman’s first choice for the role of Esperanza. Originally his wife Gale Sondergaard was cast, but Biberman thought the role should be portrayed by a Spanish-speaking actress. Revueltas was one of the few established actors in that film, all the other roles, including that of her husband Ramon, were played by actual miners, some who had taken part in the real life strikes. Juan Chacón, who played Ramon Quintero, was the president of an actual local miners' union.
Herbert J. Biberman was part of the Hollywood Ten blacklistees, and his wife, Gale Sondergaard's successful film career ended. Michael Wilson, the film writer, and Paul Jarrico, the producer, were also blacklisted. The Hollywood ten was a group of men who were blacklisted for allegedly/potentially being Communists, and who, because of this labeling, were unable to find work in Hollywood for many years. Revueltas suffered the wrath of the Red Scare. During the filming of Salt of the Earth Revueltas was arrested by immigration officials on an alleged passport violation and was forced to return to Mexico. It was after that exile she was labeled a Communist. The rest of Salt of the Earth had to be filmed using a double for Revueltas. She never worked on an American film again. Revueltas once said that "[s]ince [the INS] had no evidence to present of my 'subversive' character, I can only conclude that I was 'dangerous' because I had been playing a role that gave status and dignity to the character of a Mexican-American woman."
In Crowther's New York Times review of Salt of the Earth, he says, "Salt of the Earth is, in substance, simply a strong pro-labor film with a particularly sympathetic interest in the Mexican-Americans with whom it deals. True, it frankly implies that the mine operators have taken advantage of the Mexican-born or descended laborers, have forced a "speed up" in their mining techniques and given them less respectable homes than provided the so-called 'Anglo' laborers. It slaps at brutal police tactics in dealing with strikers and it gets in some rough, sarcastic digs at the attitude of 'the bosses' and the working of the Taft-Hartley Law."
Salt of the Earth was the only movie to ever be blacklisted during the "Communist Scare" of the 1950s (aka McCarthyism). It was selected however for the National Film Registry in 1992, thirty-eight years after its original release. In 1956, at the Académie du cinéma de Paris, Revueltas received the Best Actress award for her performance. She moved to Germany in 1957, and lived there until 1960, when she moved back to her native country. While in Germany, Revueltas worked with playwright Bertold Brecht in his theatre. After moving back to Mexico in 1960, Revueltas began taking acting classes and also began to write plays. It was not until 1976 that Revueltas made another film. Her first film since she was blacklisted was Mina, viento de libertad (Mina, Wind of Freedom). In that same year she also played Tía Licha in Lo Mejor de Teresa (The Best of Teresa). Her final film was made in 1977, entitled Balun Canan.
After her career as an actress ended she worked in Germany, in Brecht's theater, and in Cuba. In her later years, she served as a judge in film festivals including the 36th Berlin International Film Festival in 1986., and taught yoga in Mexico. In 1979 she published a book, Los Revueltas: Biografía de una familia (The Revueltas: Biography of a Family).
Rosario Revueltas was awarded the Best Actress Award for her performance in Salt of the Earth by the Académie du cinéma de Paris.
In 2000, the film One of the Hollywood Ten was made, written and directed by Karl Francis. The film focuses on Herbert Biberman's having been blacklisted. It also includes a segment on the film Salt of the Earth, in which Revueltas was portrayed by actress Angela Molina.
- La Deconocida de Arras (1946)
- The Torch, aka Bandit General (1949), aka Del Odio Nace el Amor (1951)
- Muchachas de Uniforme, aka Girls in Uniform (1950)
- Un Día de Vida (1950)
- Vuelve Pancho Villa, aka Pancho Villa Returns (1950)
- Maria Islands (1951)
- Sombrero (1953)
- Salt of the Earth (1954)
- Mina, Viento de Libertad, aka Mina, Wind of Freedom (1976)
- Lo Mejor de Teresa (1976)
- Balún Canán (1976)
- "Berlinale: 1986 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Crowther, Bosley. 'Sombrero' Skims into Loew’s State and a Resolute Cast is Obscured by the Shade, New York Times, April 23, 1953
- 'Salt of the Earth' opens at the Grande - Filming Marked by Violence, New York Times, March 15, 1954
- Lorence, James J. The Suppression of 'Salt of the Earth'. How Hollywood, Big Labor, and Politicians Blacklisted a Movie in Cold War America, University of New Mexico Press: 1999 (ISBN 0-8263-2027-9 - cloth version/ISBN 0-8263-2028-7 - paper version)