Dolores del Río

Dolores del Río

Dolores del Río in 1935 Born María de los Dolores Asúnsolo López-Negrete
August 3, 1905(1905-08-03)
Durango, Mexico Died April 11, 1983 (aged 77)
Newport Beach, California, U.S. Occupation Actress Years active 1925–1978 Spouse(s) Jaime Martínez del Río (m. 1921–1929) «start: (1921)–end+1: (1930)»”Marriage: Jaime Martínez del Río to Dolores del Río” Location: (linkback:
Cedric Gibbons (m. 1930–1940) «start: (1930)–end+1: (1941)»”Marriage: Cedric Gibbons to Dolores del Río” Location: (linkback:
Lewis Riley (m. 1959–1983) «start: (1959)–end+1: (1984)»”Marriage: Lewis Riley to Dolores del Río” Location: (linkback: Partner Orson Welles (1938-1941)

Dolores del Río (August 3, 1905 – April 11, 1983) was a Mexican film actress. She was a star of Hollywood films during the silent era and in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Later in life, she became an important actress in Mexican films. She was generally thought to be one of the most beautiful actresses of her era, and was the first Latin American movie star to have international appeal.In 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” and is second cousin to Ramon Navarro.


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.[1] 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.[2] 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.

Using her married surname, del Río made her film debut in Joanna, directed by Carewe in 1925 and released that year.[3] 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.

Dolores del Río in the movie magazine Photoplay (1927)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
ilms 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.

Dolores del Río in I Live for Love (1935)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.[4]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”.[5] 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 refused to participate in the film Viva Villa! (Fay Wray took her place). Dolores described the film as an “Anti-Mexican movie”.[6]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.[7]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.[8] The film directed by Norman Foster was realized later by the Mexican actress Esther Fernández.Dolores also accompanied Welles in vaudeville shows across the United States.[9] 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.

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:[citation needed] 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.[10] Other celebrated movies of the group were Las Abandonadas (1944, censored in México by six months),[11] Bugambilia (1945), The Fugitive (1947, directed by John Ford), and La Malquerida (1949).

Maria Candelaria movie poster (1943)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.[12]In 1959, the director Ismael Rodriguez achieved the impossible:[citation needed] bring Dolores del Río and María Félix together in one film La Cucaracha. The newspapers speculated a strong rivalry between the two actresses.[13] 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”.[14]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.[15] She won the Silver Ariel (Mexican Academy Award) as best actress in four times.In 1954, del Río was slated to appear 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 theatrical production of Anastacia with Lily Darvas.

In 1960 Dolores del Río finally returned to Hollywood. She starred with Elvis Presley in Flaming Star directed by Don Siegel. Del Rio alternated between films in Mexico and the USA, with both television and theater.In 1964, she appeared in Cheyenne Autumn directed by John Ford, with a cast that included Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, James Stewart, Gilbert Roland and Ricardo Montalbán. In 1967, she performed for the first time in Italy, with Sophia Loren and Omar Sharif in the film More than a Miracle, produced by Carlo Ponti.During the 1950s and 1960s, Dolores del Río starred in theater classics like Anastasia (1956), Lady Windermere’s Fan (1958) and The Lady of the Camellias (1968, directed by Jose Quintero),[16] with great success in Mexico, Latin America and Europe. She also participated in some American TV series, acting with figures like Buster Keaton, Cesar Romero, Bill Cosby and others. In England she starred in a BBC tv program along with Ben Lyon.[17] Dolores del Río’s last movie was The Children of Sanchez with Anthony Quinn and Katy Jurado.From the fifties to the seventies, del Río collaborated in some international film festivals like Cannes Film Festival (1957), Berlin Film Festival (1962)[18] and San Sebastián Film Festival (1976).[19]During the sixties and seventies, Dolores del Río became involved in actor union activities in her native country and was the founder of the group known as “Rosa Mexicano”. In 1974, she was the founder of the Estancia Infantil of the Asociacion Nacional de Actores in Mexico. In 1966, she was founder of the “Sociedad Protectora del Tesoro Artistico de México” (Society for the Protection of the artistic treasures of Mexico), co-founded with the philanthropist Felipe García Beraza and responsible for protecting buildings, paintings and other works of art and culture in México.[20] In 1972, she helped found the Festival Cervantino in Guanajuato.[21]In 1981, del Río was an honoree in the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

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 came to an end in 1943, and he married Rita Hayworth shortly afterwards. Rebecca Welles, the daughter of Welles and Hayworth, met Dolores in 1954 and said: “My father considered her the great love of his life”, “She was a living legend in the history of my family”.[22] 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.[23] 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.

On April 11, 1983, Dolores del Río died from liver disease at the age of 77, in Newport Beach, California. She was cremated and her ashes were interred in the Panteón de Dolores cemetery in Mexico City, Mexico. In 2005, on the centenary of her birth, her remains were moved to the Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres in Mexico City. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1630 Vine Street, in recognition of her contributions to the motion picture industry.

She was considered one of the prototypes of the classic woman style of the 1930s: “I think,” said Larry Carr (author of More fabulous faces), “that Dolores del Río’s appearance at the beginning of the 30’s influenced Joan Crawford. In 1930, when Crawford emerged as beauty personified in the entire world, but especially in Hollywood, the women imitated her style of dress and make-up. Gone was the style of heavy pancake and little heart shaped mouths. In its place the angular face, the sculptured look came into vogue. They produced a new type of beauty, of which Dolores del Río was the precursor. She left her 1920s look, loosened her hairdo, enlarged the shape of her lips and altered her eyebrows to underline her exquisite bone structure. She converted hers into one of the truly Great Faces”.[24]

Tomb of Dolores del Río in Mexico CityMarlene Dietrich considered Dolores “The most beautiful woman in Hollywood”[25][26] For many people “She has better legs than Dietrich and better cheekbones than Garbo”.[27] Some rumors said that her diet consisted of orchid petals and that she slept 16 hours in the day.[28]When del Río returned to México in 1943 her face experimented a change to become a prototype of the Mexican female beauty : “Art Deco beauty of Dolores sympathizes with the Mexican Bronze Race and embodies to a perfect ideal”.[29] She was model and muse of notable Mexican painters like Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco.Dolores del Rio ws the first Mexican and Latin American woman with an international appeal in Hollywood. She was considered frequently as reference of other Mexican and Latinas movie stars in Hollywood, since Rita Hayworth to Eva Longoria. The other Mexicans with a Hollywood career are Lupe Velez, Katy Jurado and most recently Salma Hayek.Despite the passage of years, Dolores del Río continued until the end to present an image of an educated lady, elegant and sophisticated, that despite her age still remained pleasant and desirable in the eyes of the public. In 1978, Kevin Thomas of Los Angeles Times mentions her as “One of the reigning beauties of the century”.[30] She was interpreted by the actress Lucy Cohu in the TV. film RKO 281 in 1999. Dolores del Río has a statue at Hollywood-La Brea Boulevard in Los Angeles, designed by Catherine Hardwicke built to honor of multi-ethnic leading ladies of the cinema together with Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge and Anna May Wong.In 1982, Dolores and María Félix were parodies in the Carlos Fuentes‘s script Orquídeas à la luz de la luna. Comedia Mexicana that was represented in Spain and in Harvard university. Since 1983, the Mexican Society of Film Critics gives the Diosa de Plata award “Dolores del Río” from the best dramatic female performance. From September 2009 to January 2010, Dolores del Rio was honored in the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, with one of the most complete photography compilation of her career.[31]

Main article: Dolores del Río filmography

  • 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)

  • ^ Mary Beltrán, Latina/o stars in U.S. eyes: the making and meanings of film and TV stardom
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 1, p. 14
  • ^ 80 minutes long, and starring Dorothy MacKaill and Jack Mullah, the film was based on Henry Leyford Gates’ screenplay of his own story of a naïve flapper heiress whose true love is jeopardised by false friends pursuing her money [1]
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 1, p. 56
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 1, p. 47
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 1, p. 48: She claimed “mexican reasons”.
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 1, p. 51-52
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 1, p. 58-59
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 1, p. 61
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 2, p. 16
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 2, p. 23: The film was banned by the Mexican army for describe the infiltration of the criminal gang “El Automovil Gris” in the Mexican Army in the 1910s
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 3, p. 59-60: That in 1960 directed in México the movie Sonatas.
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 2, p. 51-52
  • ^ Félix, María (1994). Todas mis Guerras. Clío. pp. 84. ISBN 9686932089. 
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol.2, p. 13: Located in the Santa Rosalía 37 street in Coyoacán, Mexico City
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 3, p. 14,31,38: Directed originally by José Quintero, later dismissed by the actress
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 3, p. 17
  • ^ “12th Berlin International Film Festival: Juries”. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 2, p. 49-50; vol. 3, p. 9-10, 48-49
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 3, p. 20
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 3 p. 41-42: Realized in Guanajuato, México since 1972
  • ^ Ramón (1997),vol. 3 p.11
  • ^
  • ^ Carr. (1979), p. 229: “: Cited by Carlos Monsivais and Jorge Ayala Blanco in the Huelva Iberoamerican Film Festival in 1981
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 1, p. 53
  • ^ Riva, Maria (1994). Marlene Dietrich. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-38645-0. 
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 3, p. 44-45
  • ^ María Idalia “Dolores del Río se retira del cine” Cinema Reporter no. 290 pp. 11 (1948)
  • ^ Agrasánchez Jr. (2001), p. 239
  • ^ Ramón (1997), vol. 3, p. 50
  • ^
    • Carr, Larry (1979). More Fabulous Faces: The Evolution and Metamorphosis of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Dolores del Río, Carole Lombard and Myrna Loy. Doubleday and Company. ISBN 0-385-12819-3. 
    • Shipman, David (1995). The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years. Little Brown and Co.. ISBN 0316784877. 
    • Ramón, David (1997). Dolores del Río. Editorial Clío. ISBN 968-6932-35-6. 
    • Hershfield, Joanne (2000). The invention of Dolores del Río. University of Minnesota. ISBN 0816634106. 
    • Agrasánchez Jr., Rogelio (2001). Bellezas del cine mexicano/Beauties of Mexican Cinema. Archivo Fílmico Agrasánchez. ISBN 968-5077-11-8. 
    • Dolores del Río, el rostro del cine mexicano (Dolores del Río: The Face of the Mexican Cinema) (1995). In SOMOS. México: Editorial Televisa, S. A. de C. V.
    • Dolores del Río, la mexicana divina (Dolores del Río: The Divine Mexican) (2002). In SOMOS. México: Editorial Televisa, S. A. de C. V.


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