Sara García

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Sara García
Sara García.jpg
García in 1946
Born Sara García Hidalgo
(1895-09-08)September 8, 1895[1]
Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico[1]
Died November 21, 1980(1980-11-21) (aged 85)
Mexico City, Mexico
Other names La Abuelita de México
Occupation Actress
Years active 1917–1980
Spouse(s) Fernando Ibáñez (m. 1918–1923)

Sara García (8 September 1895[1] – 21 November 1980) was a Mexican actress who made her biggest mark during the "Golden Age of Mexican cinema". During the 1940s and 1950s, she often played the part of a no-nonsense but lovable grandmother in numerous Mexican films. In later years, she played parts in Mexican telenovelas.

Early life[edit]

House where García was born at Orizaba, Veracruz

Doña Sara García was born Sara García Hidalgo[2] to Andalusian parents, Isidoro García Ruiz, an architect, and his wife Felipa Hidalgo de Ruiz.[1] Her father was hired for various jobs in Veracruz, where they arrived, having just come from Havana, Cuba. Sarita was the only survivor of their eleven children.[3]

In 1900, a storm caused the Santa Catarina river (which separated the family house from Sara's school) to overflow and knock down the bridge that crossed it. Until the evening the children of the school could return from the other side of the river. The anguish of Don Isidoro for believing that he would lose his only daughter caused him to suffer a stroke days later. Doña Felipa decided to travel to Mexico City to intern her husband, but he died shortly after arriving. In 1905 Mrs. Felipa died from typhoid fever.[1]

Early career[edit]

Sara started her film career at 22 when she was a teacher at a Catholic school for girls, where she served as a substitute art professor.[1] She is said to have been a talented painter in those days. One day she noticed that in a small building in Mexico City a film was being produced by newly founded film company Azteca Films. The 1917 silent, black and white feature film was Alma de Sacrificio (Soul of Sacrifice), the first production of Azteca Films, which was one of the very first Mexican film production companies.[4] The leading lady was stage actress turned film producer (and writer, actress, editor and, maybe director) Mimí Derba. After screening tests she was offered a contract and a role as an extra in the film. She accepted although she did not mention it to her employers for many months. She appeared in two more films that year as an extra.

Theatrical career[edit]

Sara García's film appearances lead to the theater. She began in the theater playing minor roles. However, during her early acting experiences, her natural talent and strong voice on the stage soon led to ten years acting on stage with the theater company Compañía de Comedia Selecta at the Theater Virginia Fábregas, which was the top theater group in Mexico of the time. There she shared the stage with Eduardo Arozamena, Sara Uthoff, Mercedes Navarro, Prudencia Grifell and the sisters Anita and Isabel Blanch, who were among the most prominent Mexican stage actors of the time.[5] García's stage career took her all over Mexico and Central America. During these travels she met her husband, Fernando Ibáñez through the actress, Mercedes Navarro. She gave birth to their daughter, Fernanda Mercedes Ibáñez during a stop in Tepic, Nayarit.

Golden Age of Mexican cinema[edit]

Filmmakers often solicited her to play movie roles during those years. However, she interrupted her stage career to appear in only one film between 1918 and 1933. Doña Sara appeared in the film Yo soy tu padre ("I Am Your Father") in 1927. Six years later, however, she returned to the screen full-time in El vuelo de la muerte ("Death Flight") in 1933. She then began a very long career of 148 films. Her first starring role was in the 1936 film Así es la mujer ("That is How a Woman is"); that film was followed by No basta ser madre ("It is Not Enough to be a Mother") (1937), in which her daughter Fernanda also appeared. The two then appeared in Por mis pistolas ("By My Pistols") in 1938 and Papacito lindo ("My Handsome Dad") in 1939.

Almost from the start, Sara García played the parts of mothers and grandmothers, She started a long series of films co-starring with the brightest stars of the cinema of Mexico, such as Cantinflas, Domingo Soler, Joaquín Pardavé and two with Prudencia Grifell as the Vivanco sisters.

Namesake of la abuelita de México[edit]

García sacrificed her beauty when she decided, at the age of 30, to take her teeth so that her mouth looked like that of an older woman and thus be able to star in roles of self-sacrificing ladies and achieve personify the role they gave her.[3]

Film actress Emma Roldán suggested Sara García for the role of doña Panchita, an old woman, in the 1940 film Allá en el trópico ("There in the Tropics"). The film's director Fernando de Fuentes considered that García was too young for the part (indeed she was in her mid 40s) but Roldán replied him saying "Sara is an actress, and actresses don't have an age". For the screen test, Sara García had a wig made for her. At the time of the screen test, the director asked the crew of her whereabouts and they answered that she was the woman in front of him, the director was shocked: her wig, lack of teeth, and performance had touched him. It is in Fernando de Fuentes' Allá en el trópico where Sara García won her title of la Abuelita de México (Mexico's Grandmother).

Collaborations with Joaquín Pardavé[edit]

Sara García with fellow co-star Joaquín Pardavé in El barchante Neguib (1946). Both actors also portrayed Lebanese-immigrants to Mexico in the earlier El baisano Jalil (1942)

In 1942, Sara García co-starred with Joaquín Pardavé in El baisano Jalil, a comedy film where she portrays the matron of a Lebanese-immigrant family. For the part, Sarita García was not dressed as an old woman, but in her normal garb with makeup to resemble a middle-eastern toman. Doña Sara again starred with Joaquín Pardavé in a similar comedy, El barchante Neguib (1945). In both films, she is a matriarch of a Lebanese-Mexican family and for the roles she and co-star Pardavé share a similar "Arab" accent in which the pronunciations of "p" and "m" are substituted with "b" sounds. Therefore, the words "paisano" and "marchante" are mispronounced and misspelled in the films' titles.

Starring with Pedro Infante[edit]

She co-starred many times in "Golden Age of Mexican cinema" films as the grandmother of famous Mexican actor Pedro Infante. Pedro was (and is) so well known and popular that they call him the "idol" (el idolo).[6] She was famous in these films for always having a cigar in her mouth and frequently, when mad, delivering quick blows with her ever-present walking stick to the posterior of her rolly polly servant named "Bartolo" (Fernando Soto).[7] The firm upturn of her jaw in the famous photo of her above shows her feisty but lovable nature in her films. For instance, after she dies in one of her films, Pedro Infante, playing the role of her grandson, forces a Mariachi band at gun point to accompany him to her newly dug grave in a heavy downpour for them to play while he tearfully tells her how much he loves and misses her.[8]

In her Golden Age movies with Pedro Infante, she often played the part of the stern grandmother who constantly tried to get her adult good-timing grandson to behave. She would often take fully grown Pedro Infante by the ear like a child, when she was mad at him. However, while she never would show it, she loved him deeply. These two photos summarize their repeated screen relationship perfectly.[citation needed] In this first scene from the 1949 Mexican movie Dicen Que Soy Mujeriego (They Say I am a Womanizer), she takes Infante by the ear at his own wedding when he pays too much attention to a passing beauty. In the second scene, by contrast, she kisses him tenderly and whispers to him lovingly in Spanish "If only you weren't a playboy [Mujeriego]", while he is asleep.[9]

In addition to Pedro Infante, she co-starred with almost the entire cast of Mexican movie stars from the 1930s to the 1970s. She came to be known as "Mexico's Grandmother" (Abuela).[10]

Personal life[edit]

She married Fernando Ibáñez in 1918, however, García and her husband divorced in 1923. García had a daughter with him named María Fernanda Ibáñez who was starting a promising career as an actress, she died on 17 October 1940 of typhoid fever.[1] García lived throughout her life, with her allegedly female lover, assistant, and business manager Rosario González Cuenca.[11]

She adored Pedro Infante, otherwise she couldn't stand Jorge Negrete as he fell in love with his daughter Fernanda.[3] Many close friends affirm that she was a severe and evil mother-in-law as well as not consenting the relationship between Jorge and his daughter.[3]

Later years and death[edit]

García had her own television show in 1950, Media hora con la abuelita, but this was not a success and was cancelled. She returned to television in 1960 when she obtained a role in her first of eight telenovelas, which include Mundo de juguete in 1974, which as of this date (early 2006) the longest-running telenovela in history, and in Viviana with Lucía Méndez.[5]

On November 21, 1980,[2] Garcia fell down some steps striking her head. She was rushed to the hospital, where she died.[12]

She was buried while the song "Mi Cariñito" ("My Little Darling/Beloved One") was played. The significance of this song is that Pedro Infante sang it to Sara several times in their movies. Particularly, he sang it drunk and tearful as a lament after Sara died in the movie Vuelven Los Garcia (The Garcias Return). She is buried with her daughter in the Panteón Español cemetery in Mexico City.


García's image is displayed on the label of Mexico's traditional Abuelita chocolate, a company now owned by Nestlé.[13]



Television shows[edit]



Cinema of Italy[edit]

Cinema of Spain[edit]

Cinema of the United States[edit]

  • The Living Idol (El ídolo viviente) (1955) as Elena (co-produced with Mexico)

Cinema of Mexico[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1917 En defensa propia Extra
1917 Alma de sacrificio Extra
1917 La soñadora Extra
1927 Yo soy tu padre Extra
1933 El pulpo humano
1933 El vuelo de la muerte
1933 La sangre manda Neighbor
1934 ¡Viva México! (El grito de Dolores) Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez
1936 Such Is Woman (Así es la mujer) Widow
1936 Marihuana (El monstruo verde) Petra
1937 Las mujeres mandan Marta
1936 Malditas serán las mujeres Señora de Ambrosaliet
1936 No te engañes corazón Doña Petro
1937 La honradez es un estorbo Doña Refugio
1937 No basta ser madre Sebastiana del Puerto
1938 Por mis pistolas
1938 Pescadores de perlas Juana
1938 Dos cadetes Dolores
1938 Padre de más de cuatro Doña Gertrudis
1938 Perjura Doña Rosa
1938 Su adorable majadero Mariquita
1939 El capitán aventurero Catalina, corregidora
1939 Los enredos de papá Petra
1939 Calumnia Eduviges
1939 Papacito lindo Remedios
1939 En un burro tres baturros Manuela
1940 Miente y serás feliz Constancia
1940 Allá en el trópico Doña Panchita
1940 Mi madrecita Madre
1940 Here's the Point' Clotilde Regalado, Leonardo del Paso's mistress
1940 Father Gets Untangled (Papá se desenreda) Petra
1940 Al son de la marimba Cornelia
1940 Father Gets Entangled Again (Papá se enreda otra vez) Petra
1941 Cuando los hijos se van Lupe de Rosales
1941 ¿Quién te quiere a ti? Seducer's mother
1941 La gallina clueca Teresa de Treviño
1942 Las tres viudas de papá Petra
1942 Dos mexicanos en Sevilla Gracia
1942 Regalo de Reyes Doña Esperanza
1942 La abuelita Doña Carmen
1942 Historia de un gran amor Doña Josefa
1942 El baisano Jalil Suad
1942 El verdugo de Sevilla Doña Nieves
1962 Ruletero a toda marcha
1962 El centauro del Norte
1962 Cazadores de asesinos
1962 Los valientes no mueren
1962 ¡En peligro de muerte!
1963 Los Amigos Maravilla en el mundo de la aventura
1963 El tesoro del rey Salomón Alí Ben
1963 Vuelven los Argumedo
1963 Fuerte, audaz y valiente
1963 Entrega inmediata
1964 Buenos días, Acapulco
1964 Vivir de sueños
1964 Mi alma por un amor
1964 Héroe a la fuerza
1964 Campeón del barrio
1965 El padre Diablo
1965 Diablos en el cielo
1965 El pecador Mesero Juan
1965 Mi héroe
1965 El rifle implacable
1965 Tintansón Crusoe
1965 Los fantasmas burlones
1965 El señor doctor Paciente Vendado
1966 El tragabalas
1966 El falso heredero Joselito el vagabundo
1966 Cada quién su lucha Badín's Henchman
1968 Corona de lágrimas Conductor del camión de gas
1969 Duelo en El Dorado
1969 Duelo en El Dorado
1969 El aviso inoportuno
1970 Gregorio y su ángel
1970 El cuerpazo del delito El gordo
1970 La hermanita Dinamita Conductor de ambulancia
1970 Chanoc en las garras de las fieras
1970 ¡Ahí, madre!
1970 El profe Papá de Martín
1971 Los Beverly del Peralvillo
1972 Chanoc contra el tigre y el vampiro
1972 Hijazo de mi vidaza
1973 Entre pobretones y ricachones
1973 Chanoc y las tarántulas
1973 El capitán Mantarraya
1975 Chanoc en el foso de las serpientes
1977 Chanoc en la isla de los muertos Tsekub Baloyán
1979 El Chanfle Mr. Moncho Reyes
1979 El secuestro de los cien millones
1979 En esta primavera
1979 Chanoc en el circo Unión
1981 OK Mister Pancho
1983 El más valiente del mundo
1983 Los gatilleros del diablo
1984 Luis Miguel, aprendiz de pirata



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mauricio Mejía Castillo (27 May 2017). "La triste historia de la abuelita más famosa de México". El Universal (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  2. ^ a b (Spanish) Estrellas de Cine Mexicana
  3. ^ a b c d "Los controversiales secretos de Sara García". Azteca Uno (in Spanish). 5 November 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2018. 
  4. ^ Some sources say her first movie was En Defensa Propia (In Self Defense) Filmography of Sara Garcia.
  5. ^ a b (Spanish) Las Noticias Mexico
  6. ^ Chavez, Denise, "Loving Pedro Infante", Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2001, p. 5.
  7. ^ (Spanish) Sara Garcia using trademark walking stick on Bartolo in Dicen Que Soy Mujeriego (at 4.37) on YouTube
  8. ^ (Spanish) Grave scene from Vuelven Los Garcia (at 3.23) on YouTube
  9. ^ (Spanish) Kiss in "Dicen que Soy Mujerigo"(at 1.51) on YouTube
  10. ^ Mexico's Grandmother
  11. ^ "Sara García: La vida en el clóset de la 'Abuelita del Cine Mexicano'". Ulisex! (in Spanish). 28 Agust 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2018.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Sara Garcia Biography". allmovie. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  13. ^ "Chocolate Abuelita®". Nestlé (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 March 2018. 

External links[edit]