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|Also Known As:||Died:||September 7, 1951|
|Born:||June 6, 1912||Cause of Death:||heart attack|
|Birth Place:||Barahona, Dominican Republic||Profession:||Cast ...|
An endearingly amateurish player, Maria Montez starred in a number of exotic programmers for Universal in the 1940s. The wealthy, convent-educated Montez was born in the Dominican Republic and spent her teens trouping through Europe with a theatrical group. A successful fashion model in the late 1930s, she was signed by Universal in 1941 and started her screen career playing bits in "The Invisible Woman" and "That Night in Rio" (both 1941). Montez worked her way up to bigger roles in "South of Tahiti" (also 1941) and "Bombay Clipper" (1942) before getting her first starring role, in the escapist showcase "Arabian Nights" (also 1942).
Universal had hit upon a formula which proved popular throughout the war years: Montez, usually clad in a sarong or other diaphanous costume, while the hero (e.g., Jon Hall, Turhan Bey) saves her from cliff-hanging peril. Montez's sullen dark beauty and good nature managed to overshadow her stunning lack of acting skills, and she proved a box-office hit in such low-budget fare as "White Savage" (1943), "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" (1944), "Gypsy Wildcat" and "Sudan" (both 1945). The high--or low--point of her career was the jaw-droppingly camp "Cobra Woman" (1943), in which Montez played twin rulers of a South Seas island entirely populated by chorus girls and over-acting villains.
Montez pretty much went out with the end of WWII. She and her husband, actor Jean-Pierre Aumont, moved to Europe in 1948 and made a handful of films: "Hans le Marin" (1948), "Le Portrait d'un assassin" (1949), "Il Ladro di Venezia/The Thief of Venice" (1950) and her last, "La Vengeance du Corsaire" (1951). Montez died of a heart attack while taking a hot saline bath in 1951; according to various sources she was somewhere between the ages of 31 and 39.
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