Sara Montiel

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Abad and the second or maternal family name is Fernández.
Sara Montiel
Sara Montiel.jpg
Montiel in 1955.
Born María Antonia Abad Fernández
(1928-03-10)10 March 1928
Campo de Criptana, Ciudad Real, Spain
Died 8 April 2013(2013-04-08) (aged 85)
Madrid, Spain


Occupation Singer, actress
Years active 1944-2002
Spouse(s) Antonio Hernández (2002-2005; divorced)
José Tous Barberán (1979-1992; his death; 2 children)
José Vicente Ramírez Olalla (1964-1970; divorced)
Anthony Mann (1957-1963; divorced)

Sara Montiel (also Sarita Montiel or Saritísima; 10 March 1928 – 8 April 2013) was a Spanish singer and actress.[1] She was a naturalized citizen of Mexico.[1] Montiel was born in Campo de Criptana in the region of Castile–La Mancha in 1928 as María Antonia Abad (complete name María Antonia Alejandra Vicenta Elpidia Isidora Abad Fernández). After her work in Juan de Orduña's El Último Cuplé in 1957, Montiel worked in Europe, Latin America and United States. Montiel's film Varietes was banned in Beijing in 1973. Her films El Último Cuple and La Violetera netted the highest gross revenues ever recorded for films made in the Spanish-speaking movie industry during the 1950s/60s[citation needed]. She played the role of Antonia, the niece of Don Quixote, in the 1947 Spanish film version of Cervantes's great novel.

She was portrayed in the Pedro Almodóvar film Bad Education by a male actor in drag (Gael García Bernal) as the cross-dressing character Zahara, and a film clip from one of her movies was used, as well.

Acting career[edit]

Montiel started in movies at 15 in her native Spain where she filmed her first movie playing an Islamic princess in the 1948 film Locura de Amor, released in the US as The Mad Queen. Later worked in Mexico, starring in a dozen films in less than five years. Hollywood came calling afterwards, and she was introduced to United States moviegoers in the film Vera Cruz (1954) co-starring with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster, and directed by Robert Aldrich. She was offered the standard seven-year contract at Columbia Pictures, which she refused, afraid of Hollywood's typecasting policies for Hispanics[citation needed]. Instead she freelanced at Warner Bros. with Mario Lanza and Joan Fontaine in Serenade (1956), directed by Anthony Mann, and at RKO in Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow (1957), opposite Rod Steiger and Charles Bronson.

From El Ultimo Cuple (1957) on she combined filming, recording songs in five languages and performing live. Almost all of her films earned high box office results. Among the films during the 1960s and early 1970s were La Violetera (1958), Carmen, la de Ronda (1959), Mi Ultimo Tango (1960), Pecado de Amor (1961), La Bella Lola (a 1962 version of Camille), Casablanca, Nid d'espions (1963), Samba (1964), La Femme Perdue (1966), Tuset Street (1967), Esa Mujer (1969), Varietes (1971) and others. By then she had become dissatisfied with the movie industry when producers started offering her erotic roles in comedy films[citation needed]. In 1974 Montiel announced her retirement from movies but continued performing live, recording and starring on her own variety television shows in Spain.[2]

In November 2009, Alaska from the Spanish pop group Fangoria invited Montiel to record a track sharing vocals with her for the re-release of the band's album Absolutamente. They recorded the title track "Absolutamente" as a duet. The music video for the song was released in early 2010.[3] She had no plans to retire[citation needed], and, in May 2011, after almost 40 years without making a movie, she accepted to perform in a feature film directed by Óscar Parra de Carrizosa. The film title is Abrázame and was shot on location in La Mancha.

Personal information[edit]

Montiel was born María Antonia Alejandra Abad Fernández in 1928 in Campo de Criptana[citation needed], Ciudad Real, Spain. She entered films after winning a beauty and talent contest at age 15[citation needed]. In her first movie she was credited as "María Alejandra" a shortened version of her real name. For her next film she changed her name to Sara, after her grandmother, and Montiel after the Montiel fields in the Castile–La Mancha region of her birth. She has been married four times[citation needed]:

  • Anthony Mann (American actor, film director); 1957-1963 (divorced)
  • José Vicente Ramírez Olalla (attorney); 1964-1978 (annulled)
  • José Tous Barberán (attorney, journalist); 1979-1992 (Tous's death); this union produced two adopted children: Thais (born 1979) and José Zeus (born 1983)[4]
  • Antonio Hernández (Cuban videotape operator); 2002-2005 (divorced)

In 2000, Montiel published her autobiography Memories: To Live Is A Pleasure, an instant best seller with ten editions to date. A sequel Sara and Sex followed in 2003. In these books Montiel revealed other relationships in her past including one-night stands with writer Ernest Hemingway as well as actor James Dean. She also claimed a long-term affair in the 1940s with playwright Miguel Mihura and mentioned that science wizard Severo Ochoa, a Nobel Prize winner, was the true love of her life.


Montiel died in 2013 at her home in Madrid, Spain at the age of 85 from congestive heart failure.[5]


  • 1943 - Te Quiero Para Mí (credited as "María Alejandra") (Spain)
  • 1944 - Empezó en Boda (Spain)
  • 1945 - Bambú (Spain)
  • 1945 - Se le Fue el Novio (España)
  • 1945 - El Misterioso Viajero del Clipper (Spain)
  • 1946 - Por el Gran Premio (Spain)
  • 1946 - Mariona Rebull (Spain)
  • 1947 - Confidencia (Spain)
  • 1947 - Don Quixote (Spain) - released in the US in 1949
  • 1947 - Alhucemas (Spain)
  • 1947 - Vidas Confusas (Spain)
  • 1948 - Madness for Love (1948) (The Mad Queen in the U.S.) – 1949 (Spain)
  • 1948 - La Mies es Mucha (Spain)
  • 1949 - Pequeñeces (Spain)
  • 1950 - El Capitán Veneno (Spain)
  • 1950 - The Man from Tangiers/Aquel Hombre de Tanger (Spain, USA)
  • 1950 - Furia Roja (English version: Stronghold with Veronica Lake in the Montiel part) (México, USA)
  • 1951 - Necesito Dinero (México)
  • 1951 - Women's Prison (México)
  • 1951 - Here Comes Martin Corona (México)
  • 1951 - El Enamorado /Vuelve Martín Corona (México)
  • 1952 - Yo soy gallo dondequiera (México)
  • 1953 - Ella, Lucifer y yo (México)
  • 1953 - Reportaje (no aparece en la edición final) (México)
  • 1953 - Porque Ya No Me Quieres (México)
  • 1953 - Piel Canela (México, Cuba)
  • 1954 - Frente al Pecado de Ayer /Cuando se Quiere de Veras (México, Cuba)
  • 1954 - Yo no Creo en los Hombres (México, Cuba)
  • 1954 - Se Solicitan Modelos (México)
  • 1954 - Where the Circle Ends (México) - (Circle of Death in the U.S.)
  • 1954 - Vera Cruz (USA)
  • 1956 - Serenade (USA)
  • 1957 - Run of the Arrow (USA)
  • 1957 - The Last Torch Song (Spain)
  • 1958 - La violetera (Spain)
  • 1959 - Carmen la de Ronda (Spain) - The Devil Made a Woman in the US and UK.
  • 1960 - Mi Último Tango (Spain)
  • 1961 - Pecado de Amor (Spain)
  • 1962 - The Lovely Lola (Spain)
  • 1962 - Queen of The Chantecler (Spain)
  • 1963 - Casablanca, Nest of Spies (Spain)
  • 1964 - Samba (Spain, Brasil)
  • 1965 - La dama de Beirut (Spain)
  • 1966 - The Lost Woman (Spain)
  • 1967 - Tuset Street (Spain)
  • 1969 - Esa Mujer (Spain)
  • 1971 - Variety (Spain)
  • 1973 - Cinco Almohadas para una Noche (Spain)
  • 1996 - Asaltar los Cielos (documental) As herself.
  • 2001 - Sara Una Estrella (documental) As herself.
  • 2002 - Machin, Toda Una Vida (documental) As herself.
  • 2003 - A Thousand Clouds of Peace –(Sara's recording of "Nena" used as theme song)
  • 2004 - Bad Education –(features a couple of Sara's songs and film clips)
  • 2011 - Abrázame (Spain)


  • Sara Montiel en Mexico
  • Canciones de la Película "El Último Cuple" - London 5409
  • La Violetera - Columbia - EX 5056
  • Baile con Sara Montiel
  • Carmen la de Ronda - Columbia EX 5020
  • Besos de Fuego
  • Mi Último Tango - Columbia EX 5048
  • El Tango
  • Pecado de Amor - Columbia EX 5092
  • La Bella Lola
  • Noches De Casablanca
  • Samba
  • La Dama de Beirut
  • Canta Sarita Montiel
  • Esa Mujer
  • Sara
  • Varietés
  • Sara... Hoy
  • Saritisima
  • Anoche con Sara
  • Purisimo Sara
  • Sara De Cine
  • Sara A Flor de Piel
  • Amados Mios
  • Todas Las Noches A Las Once
  • Sara Montiel La Diva
  • Sara Montiel La Leyenda
  • Besame - Columbia EX 5077 (1962)
  • Songs From The Film Besame - Columbia EX 5135


  • 2012 - "Reina de la Belleza Honorífica".[6]


External links[edit]