Americas Research Seminar
Professor Linda Biesele Hall, Department of History, University of New Mexico, will talk on
Dolores del Río: Beauty, Celebrity, and Power in Two Cultures
Wednesday 23 May 2012, 17:00, H3.03
Dolores del Río’s dazzling beauty in her late teens and early 20s led to her discovery and enormous success in U.S. films, beginning in 1925 and lasting into the early 1940s. She became an instant celebrity, and careful handling of publicity positioned her as white rather than indigenous. Her popularity and the power that resulted from it helped legitimate ideas of Mexicans as acceptable romantic partners for Anglo stars, as she regularly appeared in such roles, despite the fact that the era was replete with concerns about miscegenation between whites and indigenous and African-America peoples, whatever their ethnicity. Indeed, she was billed as the female Valentino, the dark female romantic counterpart to that early 1920s male film phenomenon. On her return to Mexico in the early 1940s, she found that her renown in the United States led to great pride in her achievements among Mexicans and gave her a position of power to participate in, to influence artistically, and to gather around her the best talents for the Mexican Golden Age of film. Different notions of beauty and celebrity and power in Mexico, as opposed to the United States, made it possible for her to establish herself as one of Mexican cinema's greatest stars.