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Latino Hollywood legends, from the silent film era to today : NPR

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John Leguizamo (left), Rita Moreno, Dolores del Rio, Katy Jurado, Edward James Olmos and Ariana DeBose (high) are Hollywood legends.

Mike Gallegos for NPR


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Mike Gallegos for NPR

John Leguizamo (left), Rita Moreno, Dolores del Rio, Katy Jurado, Edward James Olmos and Ariana DeBose (high) are Hollywood legends.

Mike Gallegos for NPR

Latinos have been part of Hollywood for the reason that silent film period. However they proceed to be underrepresented in entrance of and behind the cameras. USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and UCLA’s newest Hollywood Variety Report present that Latino actors get simply 7% of movie leads.

Within the early days of cinema and to at the present time, Anglo actors performed so-called Spanish roles, typically in brownface. USC professor Laura Isabel Serna says Latinos have been typically used as background extras, wrangling horses for Western photos. Luis Reyes, creator of a brand new ebook referred to as Viva Hollywood, says Latino actors who did get talking elements have been typecast in cliched roles.

“, the stereotypes: Oh, you are Latino? You will play the bandido,” Reyes says. “There was a man that performed a bandido so typically he had his personal costume. It was about incomes a residing. ‘I received black hair, I look darkish. You wished me to be a cantina lady? No downside.'”

Ramon Novarro, circa Nineteen Thirties

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George Hurrell/ullstein bild through Getty Photographs

Ramon Novarro, circa Nineteen Thirties

George Hurrell/ullstein bild through Getty Photographs

Hollywood stars Ramon Novarro and his second cousin Dolores del Rio received their begins in silent photos and have been promoted as “Latin lovers.” Each got here from influential aristocratic households in Mexico. Navarro’s household had moved to Los Angeles to flee the Mexican Revolution in 1913. He went from being an additional to starring within the 1925 silent movie Ben-Hur: A Story of the Christ. Amongst his hits is the 1931 movie Mata Hari with Greta Garbo.

Dolores del Rio was additionally recruited to Hollywood to be a intercourse image. Her well-known buddies Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich reportedly regarded her as probably the most stunning lady in Hollywood. Del Rio starred in silent movies akin to Excessive Steppers, Friends First and Ramona. When speaking photos took over, she was additionally successful, after proving she may sing.

Dolores del Rio, circa 1935

Hulton Archive/Getty Photographs


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Hulton Archive/Getty Photographs

Dolores del Rio, circa 1935

Hulton Archive/Getty Photographs

“She was seen as an unique lady,” says Cynthia Prida Bravo, consul for cultural affairs for the Consulate Common of Mexico. “She performed the European, very refined lady and she or he performed the Indigenous lady. She was so positive of herself. That is why we’re nonetheless celebrating her nearly after 100 years.”

Serna additional explains del Rio’s attraction in Hollywood. “She’s unique wanting, however she’s not notably darkish. I feel that works for the studios, because it continues to work for the studios right now. So she’s portrayed as being very ‘acceptable.’ And he or she was very insistent that she did not wish to play roles that she thought-about stereotypical.”

Actress Lupe Vélez, circa 1931

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Actress Lupe Vélez, circa 1931

Keystone/Getty Photographs

There have been different tropes used then, and even now. For comedic impact, there was the “hot-tempered, fast-talking, spicy wildcat” Latina. Actress Lupe Vélez, often called Lupe “Tabasco” Vélez, starred in no less than eight Mexican Spitfire motion pictures within the Nineteen Thirties and ’40s.

Then there have been the sultry femme fatales not billed as Hispanic. Rita Hayworth, born Margarita Carmen Cansino, whose dad was from Spain, and Raquel Welch, born Jo Raquel Tejada, whose father was Bolivian.

“Everyone modified their names in these days,” says Reyes. He provides that the studios could have anglicized names to attraction to white audiences, however that did not imply the actors have been ashamed of their heritage. And a few, like del Rio, returned to their roots. Within the Nineteen Forties, she helped launch Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema. Amongst her most well-known movies have been María Candelaria, the primary Mexican movie screened on the Cannes Worldwide Movie Pageant, and Las Abandonadas, for which she gained an Ariel, Mexico’s equal of an Oscar.

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However in Hollywood, it took years for the Academy Awards to present its first Oscar to a Latino actor. Puerto Rican José Ferrer received it for enjoying an adventurer, swordsman and poet within the 1950 movie Cyrano de Bergerac. Two years later, Mexican American actor Anthony Quinn gained his first Oscar for Viva Zapata!

Actor Edward James Olmos credit Oscar winners Ferrer and Quinn for paving the best way for later generations to play severe, non-Latino roles.

Nonetheless, like these earlier than him, Olmos says he was typically forged in cliched roles, however he says that did not imply he performed them “stereotypically.”

He says the pinnacle of casting at MGM requested him to vary his identify. So he did, from Eddie Olmos to Edward James Olmos.

“I’m a Latino actor and I am pleased with it,” says Olmos. “I stated no to extra issues than I stated sure. My intention was to inform tales about me and my tradition.”

Edward James Olmos on the Hollywood Roosevelt Resort earlier this 12 months.

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Edward James Olmos on the Hollywood Roosevelt Resort earlier this 12 months.

Mandalit del Barco/NPR

The actor born in East LA starred in a few of the most iconic Chicano movies, together with Zoot Go well with, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Stand and Ship and Selena. In 1997, he helped discovered the Los Angeles Latino Worldwide Movie Pageant to showcase the work of Latino and Latinx creators. He additionally helped begin a youth cinema mission for youngsters from fourth grade via school.

Earlier than that, in 1962, Rita Moreno was the primary Latina actress to win an Oscar for her function as Anita within the 1961 movie West Facet Story.

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Moreno was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York and in Hollywood performed loads of what she referred to as “Conchita Lolita” Latina roles or the generic ethnic.

“I by no means ever was capable of do a component with out assuming some form of an accent,” she advised NPR in 2011, including that even for the Nuyorican musical West Facet Story there have been challenges. “All of us needed to put on one coloration make-up, very very darkish. And I bear in mind asking the make-up man in actual annoyance, why cannot the make-up match our totally different pores and skin tones as a result of Hispanics are many alternative — a few of us are particularly reasonable.”

Moreno says it took years to get one other good function after her Oscar. However she persevered, appearing on tv and onstage. And now, at age 90, Rita Moreno continues to behave in Hollywood. She was in final 12 months’s West Facet Story remake, the place newcomer Ariana DeBose performed Anita.

DeBose made historical past at this 12 months’s Academy Awards, the place she accepted her Oscar.

“You see a queer, overtly queer lady of coloration, an Afro Latina who discovered her power in life via artwork, and that is what I consider we’re right here to have fun,” DeBose stated onstage.

Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose attend the 94th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood.

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Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose attend the 94th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood.

David Livingston/Getty Photographs

Actor John Leguizamo was additionally onstage at this 12 months’s Oscars celebration, which included an all-Latino efficiency from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s animated musical movie Encanto.

“All these stunning Latinx faces, we got great representation tonight, individuals,” he stated, earlier than reminding the viewers of the legend that the Oscar statuette was modeled on Emilio “El Indio” Fernández in 1928.

For years, Leguizamo has railed about Hollywood’s restricted alternatives for Latino actors and tales. He just lately shared his outrage on social media when movie producers forged white actor James Franco to play Cuban chief Fidel Castro.

“I grew up in an period the place Latin individuals could not play Latin individuals on movie, the place Charlton Heston performed a Mexican, the place Pacino performed Cuban and Puerto Rican,” Leguizamo stated on Instagram. “They advised you to vary your identify. Keep out of the solar, that solely white Latinos or white-passing Latinos will get jobs. I have been advised so many instances you may’t have two Latin individuals within the film, in any other case, individuals suppose it is a Latin film, you understand how, no matter. So no, no appropriating our tales? No, no extra of that. I am executed with that.”

This story is a part of our five-part Latinos in Hollywood collection, which pays tribute to a few of the legends and pioneers within the movie trade and examines how some Latinx actors, movie composers and administrators are getting or creating extra alternatives.





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