Dolores Del Río was a Mexican star actress who is considered a pioneer and icon for the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. She is the first great Mexican actress to appear in Hollywood productions, which gives her this international appeal. She is one of the most famous women of the twentieth century and also one of the most beautiful faces ever to appear on the screen. Read everything you need to know about the Mexican icon and her role in bringing Mexican actors to the world.
The star actress was born on August 3, 1904, under the birth name Lolita Dolores Martínez Asunsolo López Negrette in a wealthy house in Durango City, Mexico. As was customary at the time, the wealthy educated their protégés in Catholic schools, and Dolores Del Río was no exception.
She attended the Collège Français de Saint-Joseph (St. Joseph’s Covent) in Mexico City and was presented to the King and Queen of Spain in 1919. She continued her academic studies in Madrid and Paris. She made her film debut in 1925 with the movie called Joanna, but in 1926 she knocked at the door of fame with the movie What Price Glory. Over the years she appeared in many movies and worked together with some of the best Hollywood actors of that time.
5 Facts You Need To Know About Dolores Del Río
Parents and Family Life
As already mentioned, Del Río came from a wealthy home. Her parents were aristocrats in Mexico before the Mexican Revolution of 1916. Her father was Jesus Leonardo Asunsolo Jacques, son of a wealthy farmer, and he himself was director of the Bank of Durango. Her mother, Antonia Lopez Negrete, belonged to one of the richest families in the country, whose origins can be traced back to Spain. Because she was so wealthy, she lived lavishly, but had to leave the country during the revolution and therefore lost all her wealth.
In contrast to some who do their utmost to discover their talents, in the case of Dolores Del Río, it can be said that her talent discovered her. She was discovered by film director Edwin Carewe when she danced the tango at an event organized by her family for family and friends. Her interest was initially in dance, but the director convinced her to try acting because it was her beauty. He said he had seen a movie star in action and offered her a role in his upcoming movie called Joanna (1925).
Determined to pursue her dreams and become a movie star, she decided to move to the United States, to Hollywood, more precisely at the side of her husband, Jaime Martínez del Río y Viñent (also called Jaime del Río, or Jaime del Río for short).
To be the first Mexican film star to be internationally recognized and to pave the way for a generation of other Latin American actors in Hollywood is a very remarkable achievement. Her collaboration with the Mexican film director Emilio Fernandez is also said to have been responsible for creating the so-called “Golden Era of Mexican Cinema” with films such as Maria Candelaria (1944), The Forsaken (1945), and Bugambillia (1945).
In her acting career, Del Río was in many ways the first in terms of entertainment in Mexico and therefore in the Latin American world. She was a pacemaker in her career and paved the way for other Latin American actresses who are now successful in the foreign film industry. In fact, her work in Hollywood laid the foundation on which stars like Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jennifer Lopez were successful.
Her recognitions and awards are numerous, including a statue erected in Hollywood in her honor.
Despite her success on the international stage, Dolores Del Río experienced a number of setbacks due to cultural discrimination. This went hand in hand with her Hispanic accent, which came to the fore with the slow transition of the film industry from the silent film era to the era of “talking” films in 1928. This changed the tide for her, as the roles were designed with the clichéd notions of ethnic minorities in Hollywood in mind.
Aware of her unique position in American cinema, Del Río tried to compensate for the limited possibilities for Latin American actors like her without offending her Mexican audience. In fact, one of her films was banned by the Mexican government from being shown in Mexican cinemas on the grounds that it contradicted the country’s culture.
Among other things, they informed her about her decision to return to Mexico in 1943, which proved to be useful for her career, as it gave her more opportunities to distinguish herself.
Dolores Del Río married her first husband Jaime del Rio in 1921, a lawyer who happened to be much older than her. They divorced in 1928 after 7 years of marriage, but Del Río kept his name long after they separated.
She entered into a relationship with Cedric Gibbons, and after being together for nine months, the couple married in August 1930 and divorced in 1941 after ten years of marriage. That same year, Del Río tried to continue with the well-known filmmaker Ossen Welles, but the relationship did not last long. It is also known that she had affairs with some top Hollywood actors.
Later she married Lewis A. for the third time in 1959. Riley, who was married until her death on April 11, 1983. Lewis is said to have been at her side until her last moment.
Bonus Fact – Death
In her later years, Dolores Del Río succumbed to a series of chronic illnesses. She was afflicted with arthritis and was first diagnosed with osteomyelitis in 1978, before another diagnosis three years later revealed that the actress had hepatitis B (which further degenerated into cirrhosis in 1982).
She died one year later at the age of 78 (April 11, 1983), and the results showed that this was due to liver failure. Her body was cremated and sent back to her native Mexico for burial.