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Lupe Velez

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Also Known As: Maria Guadalupe Velez De Villalobos, Lupe Vlez Died: December 13, 1944
Born: July 18, 1908 Cause of Death: suicide by seconal overdose
Birth Place: Mexico Profession: actor, dancer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This fiery bombshell of the 1930s was aptly nicknamed 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'The Hot Pepper'. The stunningly beautiful Velez came northward to California in the late 1920s and became a star with amazing speed: from chorus girl in "The Music Box Review" to stooge in Hal Roach two-reelers to Douglas Fairbanks' leading lady in "The Gaucho" (1927) within the space of a year. In 1929 alone, she appeared in four dramatic films: "Lady of the Pavements" (directed by D W Griffith), "Where East is West" (co-starring Lon Chaney), "Wolf Song" (her only film with then-fiance Gary Cooper), and "Tiger Rose". Talkies, of course, limited her to playing "native" girls and might have ended her career, but in 1932, Velez was cast in the comedy "The Half-Naked Truth" (as a coochie dancer) and displayed a hitherto unsuspected comic genius, opening a new career path for her. She was also busy becoming one of Hollywood's most visible residents: Velez' high-profile love affairs (with Cooper, John Gilbert, Charlie Chaplin, Jack Dempsey and Victor Fleming, among others) and her penchant for making scenes at boxing matches and parties were soon earning her more press than her acting skills. Nonetheless, she turned in...

This fiery bombshell of the 1930s was aptly nicknamed 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'The Hot Pepper'. The stunningly beautiful Velez came northward to California in the late 1920s and became a star with amazing speed: from chorus girl in "The Music Box Review" to stooge in Hal Roach two-reelers to Douglas Fairbanks' leading lady in "The Gaucho" (1927) within the space of a year. In 1929 alone, she appeared in four dramatic films: "Lady of the Pavements" (directed by D W Griffith), "Where East is West" (co-starring Lon Chaney), "Wolf Song" (her only film with then-fiance Gary Cooper), and "Tiger Rose". Talkies, of course, limited her to playing "native" girls and might have ended her career, but in 1932, Velez was cast in the comedy "The Half-Naked Truth" (as a coochie dancer) and displayed a hitherto unsuspected comic genius, opening a new career path for her. She was also busy becoming one of Hollywood's most visible residents: Velez' high-profile love affairs (with Cooper, John Gilbert, Charlie Chaplin, Jack Dempsey and Victor Fleming, among others) and her penchant for making scenes at boxing matches and parties were soon earning her more press than her acting skills. Nonetheless, she turned in brilliant comic performances in "Palooka" (1934) and "Hollywood Party" (also 1934) that featured a delightful egg fight with Laurel and Hardy. She then took time off for a Broadway debut in "Hot Cha" and a dramatic Mexican film, "La Zandunga" (1937). When she returned to Hollywood in 1939, however, Velez found herself typed as a B actress and mired in the seven-film "Mexican Spitfire" series, in which she played Carmelita, married to a staid American and conspiring with her roguish uncle (Leon Errol). The series lasted from "The Girl from Mexico" (1939) through "Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event" (1943). She also made a handful of non-Spitfire films, including John Barrymore's swan sing, "Playmates" (1941), "The Redhead from Manhattan" (1943) and a rare dramatic turn in the Mexican-made "Nana" (1944). The unmarried Velez became pregnant in 1944, but the baby's father, bit-player Harald Raymond, refused to marry her. She committed suicide, leaving a note which made her reasons quite plain. In the 1960s, "Hollywood Babylon" author Kenneth Anger invented the still-current legend that Velez had drowned in her toilet, an assertion which, while plainly physically impossible, nonetheless has been widely believed.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Redhead from Manhattan (1943) Rita de Silva/ Maria de Silva, also known as Elaine Manners
2.
 Ladies' Day (1943) Pepita Zorita
3.
 Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (1943) Carmelita Lindsey
4.
 Mexican Spitfire at Sea (1942) Carmelita Lindsey
5.
 Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost (1942) Carmelita Lindsey
6.
 Mexican Spitfire's Elephant (1942) Carmelita Lindsey
7.
 Honolulu Lu (1941) Consuelo Cordoba[also known as Lu]
8.
 Playmates (1941) Carmen del Toro
9.
 The Mexican Spitfire's Baby (1941) Carmelita Lindsey
10.
 Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (1941) Madame La Zonga
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1927:
US stage debut, "The Music Box Review"
1927:
Film debut, "What Women Did for Me"
1927:
First leading role, "The Gaucho"
1932:
First comedy role, "The Half-Naked Truth"
1934:
Broadway debut, "Hot Cha!"
1937:
Reutned to Mexico to film drama "La Zandunga"
1939:
Starred in "The Girl from Mexico", the first of seven "Mexican Spitfire" movies
1944:
Final film, "Nana"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Gary Cooper. Actor. Involved from late 1920s until his marriage to Sandra Shaw in 1933.
husband:
Johnny Weissmuller. Actor. Married 1933, divorced 1938.
companion:
Harald Raymond. Actor. The pregnant Velez commited suicide when Raymond refused to marry her in 1944.

Contributions

HPowell ( 2006-03-06 )

Source: The RKO Girls - by Robert Parish

According to various sources, Velez's divorce proceedings with Weissmuller were unpleasant. She claimed Weissmuller treated her with cruelty, physical violence, and mental cruelty. Their divorce netted Velez $200/week for 156 weeks, except when she was employed. She also got their Beverly Hills home (Weissmuller got the schooner and speedboat). (from The RKO Girls, by Robert Parish)

pquintanilla ( 2010-04-08 )

Source: not available

Lupe's birth name is exactly Maria de Guadalupe Villalobos Velez, following the Spanish tradition of using 2 surnames, first the father's (Villalobos in this case) and then the mother's (Velez).

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