About Dolores Gibbons (del Río)
She was a Mexican film actress and the first Latin American movie star to have international appeal. Del Río starred in Hollywood films during the silent era and in the Golden Age of Hollywood. She was generally thought to be one of the most beautiful actresses of her era.
During the Silent film era, Del Rio was considered a counterpart to Rudolph Valentino. With the arrival of the talkies, she became one of the principal Art Deco symbols of beauty. Del Río was one of the principal stars of Mexican films during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. She was frequently called the "Princess of México".
Born María de los Dolores Asúnsolo y López Negrete in Durango, Mexico, del Río was the second cousin of actor Ramón Novarro and a cousin to actress Andrea Palma. She was born into a wealthy family of Spanish ancestry.Her parents were Jesus Leonardo Asúnsolo Jacques, director of the Bank of Durango, and Antonia Lopez-Negrete. They were members of the Porfiriato (members of the ruling class from 1876-1911 when Porfirio Diaz was president) in Mexico. The family lost all its assets during the Mexican Revolution, and settled in Mexico City. A desire to restore her comfortable lifestyle inspired del Rio to follow a career as an actress.
She studied at a French college in Mexico City. She had a passion for dancing and admired the great Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Performing as a dancer for gatherings of rich Mexicans, she met Jaime Martinez del Rio, a scion of one of Mexico's most important families. They fell in love although he was 18 years older. In 1921, at the age of 16, she married him. The couple spent three years in Europe.In 1924, they returned to del Rio's ranch in Durango. The couple moved to Mexico City. Dolores del Río was discovered by movie producer Edwin Carewe. Struck by Dolores' beauty, Carewe gave the couple work in Hollywood, she as an actress and he as a screenwriter.
In 1921 Dolores del Río married Mexican socialite Jaime Martínez del Río, but the marriage came to end in 1928. Her former husband committed suicide in Berlin a year later. She was a devout Roman Catholic.
From 1930 to 1940 Dolores was married to MGM's Art Designer Cedric Gibbons. Her relationship of four years with Orson Welles come to end in 1943, and he married Rita Hayworth shortly afterwards. Rebecca Welles, the daughter of Welles and Hayworth, met Dolores in 1954 and she said: "My father considered her the great love of his life", "She was a living legend in the history of my family". Welles once remarked that he was incredibly impressed by her lingerie, which had been made by nuns in France.
In the late 30's, Dolores was related also with the German writer Erich Maria Remarque, who compared her beauty with Greta Garbo. Other rumors tried to relate with Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, with whom Dolores maintained a close friendship. In the 40's, she was related with the Mexican movie producer Archibaldo Burns and with the Dominican playboy Porfirio Rubirosa. In 1949, Dolores met Lewis A. Riley in Acapulco. Riley, a theatre producer, was member of the Hollywood Canteen in the 1940s. After ten years together, the couple married in Mexico City in 1959.
Using her married surname, del Río made her film debut in Joanna, directed by Carewe in 1925 and released that year. Hollywood first noticed her appeal as a sex siren. Del Rio struggled against the "Mexicali Rose" image initially pitched to her by Hollywood executives. Despite her brief appearance, Carewe arranged for much publicity for the actress. In her second film High Steppers, del Rio took the second female credit after Mary Astor. These films were not blockbusters, but helped increase del Río's popularity. Carewe's intention was to transform her into a star on the order of Rudolph Valentino.
In 1926 the artist Theodore Lukits painted her portrait. Titled A Souvenir of Seville, it depicted the actress in the dress worn for her presentation to the Spanish Court. Also featured was her pet monkey. The large painting was displayed in the Carthay Circle Theatre for the premier of The Loves of Carmen (1927). It was reproduced in magazine and newspaper articles in the United States and Mexico.
In late 1926, director Raoul Walsh called del Río to give her a role in What Price Glory. With the character of Charmaine, del Río achieved her desired success. Later, she was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1926 (along with fellow newcomers Joan Crawford, Fay Wray, Janet Gaynor, and Mary Astor). She came to be admired as one of the most beautiful women on screen.
After she gained fame, Carewe produced Resurrection (1927), which was a box office hit. In 1927, Raoul Walsh called del Río for a second version of Carmen. The first was with Theda Bara in 1917. Walsh thought del Río to be the best interpreter of all the "Hollywoods Carmen" for his authentically Latin American version, The Loves of Carmen (1927). With Walsh she also filmed The Red Dance.
In 1928, Dolores replaced the actress Renée Adorée in the MGM film The Trail of '98, directed by Clarence Brown. Her career flourished until the end of the silent era. She had successful films such as Ramona (1928, for which she recorded the famous song "Ramona" with RCA Victor), and Evangeline (1929).
While del Río's career was flourishing, her marriage declined. Her husband moved to Germany, where he committed suicide from depression in 1929.
With the arrival of the talkies, del Río left her working relationship with Carewe. He seemed to take revenge by filming a new version of Resurrection with the alleged Dolores rival, Lupe Vélez. With the support of United Artists, del Rio left Carewe and debuted in the talkies with The Bad One in 1930.
In the Thirties
In 1930, she married Cedric Gibbons, one of MGM's leading art directors and production designers, whom she met at a party organized by William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies at Hearst Castle. Her presence in Hollywood of the 30's is not just limited to the world of cinema, also the high society circles. The Gibbons-Del Río house in Hollywood was a frequent meeting place from personalities like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Errol Flynn, Lili Damita, Clark Gable and many more.
With the advent of talkies, she was relegated to exotic and unimportant roles. The Hollywood executives sought "do not talk too much at her movies", because of her Latin accent. She scored successes with Bird of Paradise (1932, directed by King Vidor. The film was produced by David O. Selznick that request the script to King Vidor and say: "I want Del Rio in a love story in the South Seas. I don't care the script, but in the end, Del Rio should be thrown into a volcano". The film scandalized audiences when she took a naked swim with Joel McCrea. This film was made before the Hays Code was enacted so nudity could be shown. Next she filmed Flying Down to Rio (the film that launched the careers of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) (1933); Madame Du Barry (1934) and Wonder Bar (1934).
Later, del Rio starred in the Busby Berkeley comedies In Caliente (1935) and I Live for Love (1935), but she refuses to participate in the film Viva Villa! (Fay Wray took her place). Dolores accused the film as a "Anti-Mexican movie".
In 1934, Dolores del Río was one of the victims of the "open season" of the "reds" in Hollywood. With James Cagney, Ramón Novarro and Lupe Vélez, she was accused of promoting communism in California. Twenty years later this would have consequences later in the career of the actress.
In the late thirties, del Río's career declined. With the support of Warner Bros. she made a series of police films (such as Lancer Spy in 1937 and International Settlement in 1938). But del Río's career in the later 1930s unfortunately suffered from too many exotic, two-dimensional roles designed with Hollywood's cliched ideas of ethnic minorities in mind. She was marked as "box office poison" by exhibitors, along with actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford.
In 1940, Dolores met Orson Welles, who at that time was new to Hollywood. Feeling a mutual attraction, the couple began a romance. Welles fell madly in love with her. Reportedly, the affair was the cause of her divorce from Gibbons in 1941. Dolores del Río was with Welles for two years, during which he was at the peak of his career. She was at his side during the filming of Citizen Kane, and during the attacks of Randolph Hearst against him. Welles initially directed del Río in the Mexican film Santa, but the project was cancelled. The film directed by Norman Foster was realized later by the Mexican actress Esther Fernández.
Dolores also accompanying Welles in a vaudeville shows in all the United States. She collaborated with Welles in the film Journey into Fear in 1942. After Welles broke from RKO, del Río sympathized with him, though her character (a sexy leopard-woman) in the film, was reduced.
Career in Mexico
Since the late thirties, Dolores del Río was sought on several occasions by Mexican film directors. She was friends with noted Mexican artists, such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and maintained ties with Mexican society and cinema. After breaking off her relationship with Orson Welles, del Río decided to try her luck in Mexico, disappointed by the "American star system". Mexican director Emilio Fernández asked her to star in Flor Silvestre (1942) and the miracle happened: at 37, Dolores del Río became the most famous movie star in her country, filming in the Spanish language for the first time. The production group del Río-Fernandez, together with the cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and the actor Pedro Armendariz had international fame. One of her most successful films was Maria Candelaria (1943, winner at the Cannes Film Festival). The movie was written by Emilio as a present for her birthday. Other celebrated movies of the group were Las Abandonadas (1944, censored in México by six months), Bugambilia (1945), The Fugitive (1947, directed by John Ford), and La Malquerida (1949).
Over her collaborations with Fernández, del Río was given the opportunity to work with the best film directors in Mexico. Roberto Gavaldon was the one who inherited from Fernández the privilege of creating stories for the flaunting of Del Rio. Under the Gavaldón direction, Dolores filmed the movies La Otra (1946), La Casa Chica (1949), Deseada (1950) and El Niño y la Niebla, (1953,which competes in the Cannes Film Festival). In 1951, Dolores starred Doña Perfecta, in which she was acclaimed for her great dramatic representation.
Dolores worked in Argentina in 1947, in a film version of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan. The Cinema of Spain called her twice for the movies Señora Ama (1954, directed by Dolores's cousin Julio Bracho) and in La Dama del Alba in 1966. Her mother's death in 1961 forced to cancel the Spanish movie Muerte en el otoño, directed by Juan Antonio Bardem.
In 1959, the director Ismael Rodriguez achieved the impossible: bring Dolores del Río and María Félix together in one film La Cucaracha. The newspapers speculated a strong rivalry between the two actresses. María Felix speaks: " With Dolores i don't have any rivalry. On the contrary. We were friends and we always treat them with great respect, each with its own personality".
In 1959, she married theatrical American businessman Lewis "Lou" Riley (a former member of the Hollywood Canteen), whom she met in Acapulco ten years before. The house of Dolores in México, called "La Escondida" in Coyoacán, was very popular inside Mexican and foreign celebrities. She won the Silver Ariel (Mexican Academy Award) as best actress in four times.
In 1954, del Río appeared in the 20th Century Fox film Broken Lance. The U.S. government denied her permission to work in the USA, accusing her of being a sympathizer of international communism. Because del Río did not get permission, the film was made by Katy Jurado. Dolores del Río became one of the victims of McCarthyism. Her situation with the U.S. was fixed in 1956 when the actress was able to return to the United States to perform in the theater production of Anastacia with Lily Darvas.
* Anastacia (1956) ( New York (Broadway), USA)
* El Abanico de Lady Windermere (1958) (México City, Teatro Virginia Fébregas; Buenos Aires, Argentina)
* Camino a Roma (1960) (México City, Teatro de los Insurgentes)
* Espectros (1961) (México City)
* Mi querido embustero (1961) (México City)
* La Vidente, de Roussin (1965) (México City)
* La Reina y los Rebeldes (1966) (México City)
* La Dama de las Camelias (1968) (México City, Monterrey)
* El Espectáculo Rosa Mexicano (1972) (México City)
This is a complete filmography (can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolores_del_R%C3%ADo_filmography) of Dolores del Río. Del Río began her career in 1925, when she abandoned her native Mexico to start a career as an exotic beauty in the 1920s Hollywood. At that time she came to be regarded as a specie of female version of Rudolph Valentino.
Her career flourished until the end of the silent era, with successful films such as Resurrection (1927), Ramona (1928) and Evangeline (1929). With the arrival of the talkies in the early 30's, Del Río's exotic image undergoes a radical change to become in one of the most glamorous Art Decó symbols of her age. She scored successes with Bird of Paradise (1932), Flying Down to Rio (1933), Madame DuBarry and Wonder Bar (1934). But in the late 30's, Del Río's career suffer a decline, and she was marked as one of the "box office poisons".
Under these circumstances, Del Río return to México. Under the guide of Emilio Fernández, and at the age of 37, Del Río become into the most important star of the Golden age of Mexican cinema that in time became so powerful as Hollywood. The Mexican films gave Dolores reputation as an extraordinary actress who don't had in his years in Hollywood. Her master piece are the legendary film Maria Candelaria (1943).
Dolores del Río was considered one of the Great Divas of the America and Latin America cinema, mythic figure of Mexico and representation, by excellence, of the Mexican female beauty in all the world.
Dolores del Río's Timeline
August 3, 1904
Durango, Dg, Mexico
April 11, 1983
Newport Beach, CA, USA