Dolores del Rio was the one of the first Mexican movie stars with international appeal and who had meteoric career in the 1920s/1930s Hollywood. Del Rio came from an aristocratic family in Durango. In the Mexican revolution of 1916, however, the family lost everything and emigrated to Mexico City, where Dolores became a socialite. In 1921 she married Jaime Del Río (also known as Jaime Martínez Del Río), a wealthy Mexican, and the two became friends with Hollywood producer/director Edwin Carewe, who “discovered” del Rio and invited the couple to move to Hollywood where they launched careers in the movie business (she as an actress, Jaime as a screenwriter). Eventually they divorced after Carewe cast her in her first film Joanna (1925), followed by High Steppers (1926), and Pals First (1926). She had her first leading role in Carewe’s silent version of Pals First (1926) and soared to stardom in 1928 with Carewe’s Ramona (1928). The film was a success and del Rio was hailed as a female Rudolph Valentino. Her career continued to rise with the arrival of sound in the drama/romance Bird of Paradise (1932) and hit musical Flying Down to Rio (1933). She later married Cedric Gibbons, the well-known art director and production designer at MGM studios.
Dolores returned to Mexico in 1942. Her Hollywood career was over, and a romance with Orson Welles–who later called her “the most exciting woman I’ve ever met”–caused her second divorce. Mexican director Emilio Fernández offered her the lead in his film Flor silvestre (1943), with a wholly unexpected result: at age 37, Dolores del Río became the most famous movie star in her country, filming in Spanish for the first time. Her association with Fernández’ team (cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, writer Mauricio Magdaleno and actor Pedro Armendáriz) was mainly responsible for creating what has been called the Golden Era of Mexican Cinema. With such pictures as María Candelaria (Xochimilco) (1944), Las abandonadas (1945) and Bugambilia (1945), del Río became the prototypical Mexican beauty. career included film, theater and television. In her last years she received accolades because of her work for orphaned children. Her last film was The Children of Sanchez (1978).
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