Sunday, March 29, 2009

Maria Montez (1912-1951)

When I look at myself, I am so beautiful I scream with joy!

Maria Montez

Maria Montez was a Dominican born American actress who became popular in the 1940's as an exotic beauty in a number of Technicolor adventure films. In her films she played the erotic Latin seductress, adorned with jewels and colorful veils, and became known as "The Queen of Technicolor" .

Maria Montez with three of her sisters.

Maria Montez was born Maria África Gracia Vidal (named after he father's native land, La Isla de la Palma, Spain in the African continent) in Dahoma, Dominican Republic, and was the second of ten children. At a young age she learn to speak English by reading magazines and books and watching American films. Already when she was a little child she wanted to become an actress, a goal that she would do everything to reach.
In 1932 she married an Irish banker in her native town, William McFeeters. They were married for seven years, but divorced when Maria went to New York, her beautiful and exotic looks giving her a job as a model.
Determined to become an actress she hired an agent that changed her year of birth to 1917, and sometimes 1918, to make her younger. Her first film offer was from Universal Pictures for a B western called Boss of Bullion (1940) starring Johnny Mack Brown.

Maria Montez and Jon Hall made six films together. Picture from 1944.

Her latin beauty soon landed more parts for her, Technicolor adventure films being popular during the WWII years when the public wanted to escape their tough realities. She starred in no less than six films with Jon Hall, the titles saying a lot of what kind of films we're talking about: Arabian Nights (1942), White Savage (1943), Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944), Cobra Woman (1944), Gypsy Wildcat (1944) and Sudan (1945).

Trailer for Arabian Nights (1942) starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall and Sabu.

Scene: Maria Montez's famous dance in Cobra Woman (1944).

While working in Hollywood Montez met and married french actor Jean-Pierre Aumont. Their wedding was held July 13th, 1943 (after Montez had consulted her astrologer about the chosen date) and they reportedly kissed each other 112 times during the ceremony. A few days later Aumont had to go to war.
During the war, pictures of Maria Montez covered the inside of many a soldier's lockers, alongside Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner.

Maria Montez and Jean-Pierre Aumont on their wedding day.

Montez and Aumont.

Montez and Aumont with their daughter (b. 1946), Tina Aumont.

By 1945 Montez had tired of being typecast in escapist films and B films, and refused to play in Universal's next project, Frontier Gal (1945). The role went to Yvonne DeCarlo, that alongside Maureen O'Hara became Universal's new film stars.
In February 1946 the couple had a daughter, Maria Christina (now more famous as a model under the name of Tina Aumont), and after that Montez moved to Paris with her husband, were they received a warm welcome by the French people. (Montez was the first American film star visiting France after WWII.)

On the cover of Movie Life magazine, January 1944.

Montez travelled to Italy and made some films there in the late 1940's, but as a great Hollywood star she had now faded.
At the age of only 39 Montez was found dead at her home in Paris September 7, 1951. She had suffered a heart attack and drowned in her bath tub.

Montez by a portrait of herself.

Other nicknames for Maria Montez:

Dominican Dynamite
Hollywood Syren
Tempestuous Montez
The Caribbean Cyclone


Kate Gabrielle said...

Another tragic ending. I haven't seen many of her films, I'm going to have to look her up..

I wish I was so beautiful I screamed with delight when I looked in the mirror :)

Christopher said...

oh goody goody..thank you! :o)
muahahahahaha!..look at that hootchie cootchie snake dancing!...yeah boy!!Cobra Woman is a pretty good movie actually..REALLY..heh heh
...Her daughter,Tina Aumont is..was :o(.. really beautiful..Well known to fans of Italian genre films of the 60s and 70s for her sensual roles.. :o)

Christopher said...

ha ha ARE beautiful..It is I..who will scream with delight!
I haven't heard any stories from people who have worked with La Montez..but I can only imagine!..hee hee.."Look out boys!..she brought her whip today!".."Yes Mz Montez!..Right away Mz Montez!"

Lolita said...

Kate Gabrielle:
Oh, I always scream of delight when I see myself in the mirror! ;)
I haven't seen a photo of you, but I think that every woman can be attractive if you just find your style.

You are a real womaniser, Chris! Haha!
Yes, Tina Aumont was really beautiful too. I thought about putting a picture of her in the post, but then I decided that it would be a little off-topic.
Hmm... I should start carrying a whip...

Christopher said...

oh goodie!..a whipping!..I have been a naughty boy :o)..giggle giggle
Caribbean Cyclone INDEED!..Ha!
I bet she was really sweet..One of my favorite fotos of Montez(I can't find it on the internet)shows her giving her sisters a tour of the set of the House of Frankenstein..Its like.."This is great sis!..Who cares about Gable and Flynn!..You're working RIGHT here where they make all those swell Frankenstein nd Wolfman pictures!!" :o)

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! I scream too!

Lolita said...

All men do, I suppose!

Christopher said...

..yet another young star and a Paris bathtub heart attack!

Lolita said...

Are Paris bathtub heart attacks common among young Hollywood stars?

Christopher said...

Its a growing tragedy that needs a thourough investigation!
Ha Ha Ha...No..I dunno??:o/??
I was just thinking of young Jim Morrison of The Doors having a Paris Bathtub heart attack!....but i think he probably had a little help ;o)..Who knows?..Maybe La Montez did also