Sara García

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Sara García
Sara García in No Basta Ser Madre (1937).jpg
García in the 1937 film No basta ser madre
Sara García Hidalgo[1]

(1895-09-08)8 September 1895[2]
Died21 November 1980(1980-11-21) (aged 85)[1]
Mexico City, Mexico
Resting placePanteón Español
Mexico City
Other namesLa Abuelita de México[3]
Years active1917–1980
Fernando Ibáñez
(m. 1918–1923)

Sara García (8 September 1895[2] – 21 November 1980) was a Mexican actress who made her biggest mark during the "Golden Age of Mexican cinema".[4] 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.

García was baptized and is remembered as La Abuelita de México ("Mexico's Grandmother").[3]

Life and career[edit]

1895–1917: Childhood[edit]

House where García was born at Orizaba, Veracruz

Doña Sara García was born Sara García Hidalgo[1] to Andalusian parents, Isidoro García Ruiz, an architect, and his wife Felipa Hidalgo de Ruiz in 1895.[2] 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.[5]

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 the capital, García was inscribed in the school of the Vizcaínas.[2] In 1905, her mother Felipa died from typhoid fever and García remained under the charge of the director of the institution, Cecilia Mallet.[2] As a teenager, she became a teacher and during her class she used to make her students perform plays.[2]

1917: Film debut in silent films[edit]

Sara started her film career at age 22 when she was still a teacher.[2] 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. Some sources say her first movie was En defensa Propia (In self Defense).[3]

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.

1918–1939: Golden Age of Mexican cinema, marriage and divorce[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. In 1918, she married Fernando Ibáñez however, García and her Ibañez divorced in 1923.[2]

García 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.

She started a long series of films co-starring with the brightest stars of the cinema of Mexico, such as Cantinflas, Jorge Negrete, Germán Valdés "Tin-Tan",[6] Domingo Soler, Joaquín Pardavé and two with Prudencia Grifell as the Vivanco sisters.

1940–1947: La Abuelita de México, personal tragedy and film collaborations[edit]

García under her grandma persona in the film La abuelita (1942)
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)

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.[5]

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). This same year, her first and only daughter María Fernanda Ibáñez who was starting a promising career as an actress, died on 17 October 1940 of typhoid fever.[2]

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.

She co-starred many times in 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). Her most remembered film with him is in the 1947 one Los tres García also starred alongside with Abel Salazar and Víctor Manuel Mendoza, where she incarnate the character of their grandmother with a strong, naughty and authoritarian attitude.[7]

1947–1947: Multiple films, Telenovelas and international works[edit]

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. 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.

Personal life[edit]

García lived throughout her life, with her alleged female lover, assistant, and business manager Rosario González Cuenca.[8]

She adored Pedro Infante, otherwise she couldn't stand Jorge Negrete as he fell in love with her daughter Fernanda.[5] Many close friends affirm that she was a severe and evil mother-in-law as well as not consenting the relationship between Jorge and her daughter.[5]

Later years and death[edit]

García had her own television show in 1951, Media hora con Abuelita,[9] but it was a failure and subsequently was cancelled.[4] She returned to television in 1960 when she obtained a role in Un rostro en el pasado[10] which was her first of eight telenovelas that also included Mundo de juguete in 1974, which as of this date (early 2006) the longest-running telenovela in history,[11] and Viviana with Lucía Méndez in 1978.[12]

On 21 November 1980, Sara died at the National Medical Center in Mexico City at the age of 85, due to a cardiac arrest that arose from pneumonia, days before she had been hospitalized after being injured by falling down the stairs of her house.[13]

García was buried alongside her daughter in a mausoleum at Panteón Español cemetery in Mexico City.[14] While she was being buried, the song "Mi Cariñito" ("My Little Darling/Beloved One") was played as this song was the one that Pedro Infante sang it to Sara several times, particularly he sang it drunk and tearful as a lament after Sara died in the movie Vuelven Los Garcia (The Garcias Return).[15] It is claimed that the song was sung at her funeral by Lucha Villa.[2]


In 1973, Sara García signed a commercial agreement to give her image to the factory of Chocolates Azteca, which was later bought by the Nestlé brand.[3] Since then her image is displayed on the label of Mexico's traditional Abuelita chocolate.[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1960 Un rostro en el pasado 3 episodes
1962 La gloria quedó atrás 3 episodes
1966 La duquesa La duquesa (Duchess), Raquel 3 episodes
1967 Anita de Montemar 3 episodes
1968 El padre Guernica
1968 Mi maestro
1972 Telenovela mensual
1973 Mi rival Chayo 19 episodes
1974 Mundo de juguete Nana (Nanny) Tomasita 221 episodes
1978 Viviana Doña Angustias Rubio Montesinos 3 episodes

Television shows[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1951 Media hora con la abuelita
1957, 1959 Secreto de familia 4 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
1940 Recordar es vivir
1963 La vida de Pedro Infante
1976 México de mis amores


Cinema of Mexico[edit]

Sara García in La abuelita (1942)
Sara in El barchante Neguib (1946)
Year Title Role Notes
1917 En defensa Propia Extra
1917 Alma de sacrificio Extra
1917 La soñadora Extra
1927 Yo soy tu padre Extra
1934 El pulpo humano
1934 El vuelo de la muerte Doña Clara
1934 La sangre manda Vecina (Neighbor)
1934 ¡Viva México! (El grito de Dolores) Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez
1936 Such Is Woman (Así es la mujer) Viuda (Widow)
1936 Marihuana (El monstruo verde) Petra
1936 Malditas serán las mujeres Señora de Ambrosaliet
1936 No te engañes corazón Doña Petro
1937 Las mujeres mandan Marta
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 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
1941 Al son de la marimba Doña Cornelia Escobar
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
1943 Resurrection (Resurrección) Genoveva
1943 No matarás Aurora
1943 Caminito alegre Antonia Goyena
1943 Toros, amor y gloria Irene
1944 Mis hijos María
1944 La trepadora Doña Carmelita
1944 El secreto de la solterona Marta
1944 El jagüey de las ruinas Doña Teresa "Mamanina"
1944 Como yo te quería Remedios Mantilla
1945 Escuadrón 201 Doña Herlinda
1945 La señora de enfrente Lastenia Cortazano
1945 Mamá Inés Inés Valenzuela
1946 El barchante Neguib Sara
1946 ¡Ay qué rechula es Puebla! Doña Severa
1947 Sucedió en Jalisco (Los cristeros) Doña Engracia, abuela (Grandma)
1947 El ropavejero María
1947 Los tres García Doña Luisa García viuda de García
1947 Vuelven los García Doña Luisa García viuda de García
1948 Los que volvieron Marta Ortos
1948 Mi madre adorada Doña Lolita
1948 Dueña y señora Toña
1948 Tía Candela Candelaria López y Polvorilla "Tía Candela"
1949 Dicen que soy mujeriego Doña Rosa
1949 The Perez Family (La familia Pérez) Natalia Vivanco de Pérez
1949 Eterna agonía Doña Cholita
1949 Novia a la medida Doña Socorro
1949 El diablo no es tan diablo Doña Leonor
1949 Dos pesos dejada Prudencia
1950 Yo quiero ser hombre Tía Milagros / Doña Tanasia
1950 Mi preferida Doña Sara
1950 Si me viera don Porfirio Doña Martirio
1950 Azahares para tu boda Eloísa
1950 Mi querido capitán Pelancha
1950 Yo quiero ser tonta Atilana
1951 La reina del mambo Tía (Aunt)
1951 El papelerito Doña Dominga
1951 Doña Clarines Clara Urrutia 'Doña Clarines'
1951 La duquesa del Tepetate Chonita, Duquesa del Tepetate
1951 Acá las tortas Dolores
1952 La miel se fue de la luna Doña Martirio
1953 Misericordia Benigna
1953 Por el mismo camino Tía Justa
1953 El lunar de la familia Doña Luisa Jiménez
1953 Genio y figura Doña Luisa
1953 Los que no deben nacer Clotilde
1954 Los Fernández de Peralvillo Doña Conchita Fernández; doña Chita
1954 El hombre inquieto Doña Fátima Sayeh
1955 Sólo para maridos Concordia
1956 El crucifijo de piedra Laura
1956 La tercera palabra Matilde
1956 El inocente Madre de Mané
1957 La ciudad de los niños Doña Juliana
1957 Pobres millonarios Doña Margarita del Valle
1958 El gran premio Soledad Fuentes Lago (Doña Cholita)
1958 Con el dedo en el gatillo La abuela Episode: El anónimo
1959 Los Santos Reyes La anciana
1959 Las señoritas Vivanco Hortensia Vivanco y de la Vega
1959 Yo pecador Nana Pachita
1961 El proceso de las señoritas Vivanco Doña Hortensia Vivanco y de la Vega (as Doña Sara Garcia)
1961 ¡Mis abuelitas... nomás! Doña Casilda
1961 El buena suerte Doña Paz
1961 Paloma brava Doña Popotita
1961 El analfabeto Doña Epifanita
1962 El malvado Carabel Tía Elodia
1962 Las hijas del Amapolo La abuela
1962 El caballo blanco Doña Refugio
1962 Ruletero a toda marcha Doña Sarita
1964 Las Chivas Rayadas Doña Pancha
1964 Los fenómenos del futbol Doña Pancha
1964 Nos dicen las intocables Doña Cucaracha
1964 Héroe a la fuerza Doña Prudencia
1965 Canta mi corazón Abuela
1965 Escuela para solteras Doña Bernarda
1965 Nos lleva la tristeza Doña Marina Guerra viuda de Batalla
1966 Los dos apóstoles Doña Angustias
1966 Joselito vagabundo Doña Guadalupe
1967 Seis días para morir Doña Mercedes
1967 Un novio para dos hermanas Seňora Cáceres
1967 Las amiguitas de los ricos Viejecita
1968 Sor Ye Ye Madre María de los Ángeles Co-produced with Spain
1969 No se mande, profe Doña Claudia
1969 Flor marchita Paula la nana
1969 El día de las madres Doña Carmen
1970 ¿Por qué nací mujer? Doña Rosario
1971 La casa del farol rojo Doña Sara Morales viuda de Mendoza
1970 La hermana dinamita Madre Ana
1972 La inocente La abuela
1972 Fin de fiesta Doña Beatriz
1972 Nadie te querrá como yo Abuela
1972 National Mechanics (Mecánica nacional) Doña Lolita
1973 Entre Monjas Anda el Diablo Sor Lucero
1973 Nosotros los feos Doña Sara García viuda de García y García
1973 Valente Quintero Elvira Peña
1974 Los Leones del ring Doña Refugio
1974 Los Leones del ring contra la Cosa Nostra Doña Refugio
1974 Fé, Esperanza y Caridad Anciana Segment: Caridad
1974 El hijo del pueblo Vicenta Aurelia Fernandez; Chenta
1977 Como gallos de pelea Doña Altagracia
1977 Nobleza ranchera Altagracia
1978 La comadrita Doña Chonita
1979 La vida difícil de una mujer fácil Doña Amalia
1979 Como México no hay dos
1980 Sexo vs. sexo Señora dueña del club de Can-Can (Lady Owner of Can-Can Club)

Cinema of the United States[edit]

García along with Liliane Montevecchi in The Living Idol (1957)
Year Title Role Notes
1957 The Living Idol (El ídolo viviente) Elena Co-produced with Mexico

Cinema of Italy[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1964 Los dinamiteros (L'ultimo rififi) Doña Pura Co-produced with Spain

Cinema of Spain[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1961 Lovely Memory Dona Sara


  1. ^ a b c "Sara García". Estrellas del cine Mexicano (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Mauricio Mejía Castillo (27 May 2017). "La triste historia de la abuelita más famosa de México". El Universal (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Rosa, Gutiérrez (30 November 2017). "Sara García, la abuelita de México". La Neta Noticias (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Sara García, 37 años sin la 'abuelita' del cine mexicano". Europa Press (in Spanish). 21 November 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "Los controversiales secretos de Sara García". Azteca Uno (in Spanish). 5 November 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  6. ^ Ricardo, Hernández (22 November 2015). "Recordando a... Sara García". El Sol de México (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  7. ^ José, Arrieta (8 September 2015). "Recuerda a Sara García". Reforma (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Sara García: La vida en el clóset de la 'Abuelita del Cine Mexicano'". Ulisex! (in Spanish). 28 August 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Media hora con Abuelita". IMDb. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Un rostro en el pasado". IMDb. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Mundo de juguete". IMDb. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Viviana". IMDb. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Biografía de Sara García". México Lindo y Querido (in Spanish). 25 April 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Cuidadores del Panteón Español". Time Out (Ciudad de México) (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Mi Cariñito". iTunes. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Chocolate Abuelita®". Nestlé (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 March 2018.

External links[edit]