These famous women helped pave the way for generations of Latinos in TV and film. In the early days of Hollywood, some of these Latina actresses opened doors by being the first Latina stars. More recently, Latinas in TV have reached new heights of stardom by becoming highly visible and starring in their own shows.
Lupe Velez- (1908-1944)
María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico on 1908. One out of five children, Velez was said to be aggressive and impulsive so she was sent to study at Our Lady of the Lake in San Antonio, Texas. She began her career in Mexico in 1924 and later emigrated to Hollywood where she was picked for the film The Gaucho (1927). She became so popular that the “Mexican Spitfire” was written around her. By the age of 21 she had already done over 10 films. She was known as one of the first Latina women to make it in Hollywood opening the doors for Latinas. Although constantly portraying love scenes her personal life was the opposite and she sadly took her life at the age of 36 for still unknown reasons.
Carmen Miranda (1909-1955)
Born in Marco de Canaveses, Portugal in 1909 The Portuguese Brazillian samba singer, Carmen Miranda was born as Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha. Most commonly known as the “Brazillian Bombshell” she was a singer, dancer, Broadway actress and film star! Making her stardom in Brazil her talent lead to Broadway and soon Hollywood. Her first film in Hollywood was Down Argentine Way in 1940. She is recognized by the signature fruit hat she wore in American movies in specific The Gang’s All Here (1943). Soon she became the highest paid woman in the United States. Her death came from a heart attack in Beverly Hills at the age of 46.
Dolores Del Rio- (1905-1983)
The Mexican actress was born in Durango, México in 1905 as María de los Dolores Asunsola y Lopez Negrete. She married at the young age of 16 to Jaime Martinez, 34 and had a two year honeymoon in Europe. Later she moved to the United States where her career in singing and acting took off as she made her debut in the film Joanna. She soon continued to play roles in silent films becoming one of the most important female figures in Mexican Cinema. Jumping from Mexico to the United States for roles, she even worked with Rock n’ Roll Star Elvis Presley in Flaming Star. Winning an Ariel Award for best actress her life ended due to multiple health issues.
Lynda Carter- (1951- )
Daughter of Juanita (Mexican/ Spanish) and Colby Carter(Scottish and Irish), Linda Jean Cordova Carter was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1951. She is best known for winning Miss World USA in 1972 and playing the famous role of Wonder Woman. At the age of 17, she joined her cousins’ in the band The Relatives. She later attended the Arizona State University and continued to pursue a career in music. After winning Miss World, she moved to LA where she studied acting. Along the way, she guest starred on The Jackson Show, The Muppet Show, and even portrayed Rita Hayworth in The Love Goddess. Although acting opened many doors for her, she continued on to sing and even releasing a solo album called Portrait. She now has a website in which she sells her music and has tour announcements.
TV SHOW HOST
Cristina Saralegui- (1948- )
Born in Havana , Cuba Cristina Saralegui on 1948 she fled to Miami, Florida in 1960 following the Cuban Revolution. She attended the University of Miami and in 1973 she began an internship with the magazine Vanidades which lead her to become the editor of the Spanish version of the Cosmopolitan magazine. After almost a decade of being an editor she launched her talk show, El Show de Cristina on Univision which had many prominent guests and ended after 21 years and earned 12 Emmys. She continued to publish a magazine Cristina: La Revista along with various books. The “Spanish Oprah” journalist, actress, talk show host, and activist she is also created a foundation along with her husband, called Arriba la Vida to promote AIDS education in the Latino community and help other AIDS related causes.
Latinas in film have been taking on more starring roles in current times and Latina characters have evolved over time thanks to these leading Latina ladies.