Maria Cristina Estella Marcella Jurado de Garcia, popularly known as Katy Jurado, was once a darling in Hollywood. She was an actress with film, television, and theatre credits and became a pioneer for Latina actors in the American film industry.
Katy Jurado started her acting career in Mexico and eventually went on to star in American films like “Arrowhead”, “One-eyed Jacks”, and “Stay Away, Joe”. She was born in 1924 into a wealthy and influential family in Guadalajara city and would have turned 87 in 2021.
Despite her family not initially supporting her desire to become an actress, she didn’t let it deter her from pursuing her passion as she was so determined. Katy Jurado went on to sign her first contract in secret at the age of 16.
Her journey to Hollywood started in 1951, after director Budd Boetticher spotted her while she sat in a bullfight arena. It happened during filming in Mexico.
Jurado featured in notale Hollywood movies during the 1950s and 1960s and went on to achieve fame in both Mexican cinema and Hollywood through her portrayals of complicated, stereotyped, and sexualised women.
She was so talented and could play a variety of characters which helped pave the way for Latin actors in American cinema.
10 need to know facts about Katy Jurado
- Her real name is not Katy, but her family started calling her Katy from a very young age. Her actual name is María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García.
- She was born in 1924 to a wealthy and influential Mexican family in Guadalajara.
- She developed a passion for acting since childhood, but her parents were against the profession.
- Her cousin Emilio Portes Gil became president of Mexico in 1928.
- She got rebellious due to her parents’ refusal to allow her to pursue acting and decided to get married at a very early age (15).
- Jurado was famous for her exotic beauty and often played the roles of femme fatale and seductive women in movies, becoming a movie star during the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema and won the Ariel Award for Best Supporting Actress at the time.
- She transitioned to Hollywood despite having rudimental English language skills.
- Katy Jurado was the first Latin American actress to be nominated for an Oscar, and she was also the first to win a Golden Globe Award.
- The actress attempted suicide in 1968 after seeming to have hit rock bottom. She called her agent saying she had taken 67 sleeping pills and that she would sleep, but her agent called authorities to rescue her.
- Katy Jurado had two children from her first marriage; Victor Hugo and Sandra. Victor Hugo, however, passed away in a tragic car accident in 1981.
Early life and family background
Katy Jurado was born in 1924 to a wealthy and influential Mexican family in Guadalajara. Her birth name is Maria Cristina Estella Marcella Jurado de Garcia, with Garcia being her maternal family name.
Her father was named Luis Jurado Ochoa, and he worked as a lawyer, while Vicenta García, her mother, was a singer working for the oldest radio station in Latin America, XEW in Mexico. Vicenta García was also the sister of Mexican musician Belisario de Jesús García, popular for Mexican songs such as “Las Cuatro Milpas”. Meanwhile, Katy’s father, Jurado, had a cousin Emilio Portes Gil who became President of Mexico from 1928–1930. Her godfather was also a Mexican actor named Pedro Armendáriz.
She spent her early years in luxury until the government confiscated her family’s lands for redistribution to the landless peasants. Katy studied at a school run by nuns in the Guadalupe Inn neighbourhood of Mexico City, before then studying to become a bilingual secretary later on.
As a teenager, producers and filmmakers wanted to work with her as an actress, and one of them, Emilio Fernández, eventually offered her a role in his first movie “The Isle of Passion” (1941). Her parents never gave their consent because they didn’t want her to pursue a career in the film industry.
Despite having to turn down her first movie gig, she was still interested in acting and would not give up her dream without a fight. This determination led her to take matters into her own hands when she was offered a role in another film, “No matarás” (1943). She signed the film’s contract without her parent’s consent.
To start her career, Katy Jurado had to go toe-to-toe with her family to get on track. She even entered into an early marriage at just 15 to ensure her dream did not wither away, and today, she’s regarded as one of the pioneers who paved the way for others like her in the American movie industry.
During her teenage years, Katy, who already had a passion for acting, wanted to pursue a career in the craft, but her family was against it. Producers and filmmakers were already lining up to work with her very early on because she was a beautiful teenager and even got her first role in Emilio Fernández’s first movie, “The Isle of Passion” (1941), but her parent never consented to it.
She had to be a rebellious teenager to get her dream on track. Katy Jurado got yet another role in 1943’s “No matarás,” and knowing her family would say no, she went ahead to sign the contract herself.
She actually did go overboard to ensure she would be able to pursue her dream.
However, her family soon discovered what she had done, and they threatened to send her off to a boarding school. It was around when she met Víctor Velázquez, an aspiring actor at the time, and the two quickly got married. Katy was 15, and the marriage was largely motivated by her undying passion for acting. The marriage only lasted a few years, but the pair had two children together.
Jurado appeared in “Internado Para Señoritas” directed by Gilberto Martínez Solares and won an Ariel (Mexico’s Oscars) for her effort. Then there was a span of 13 films before she eventually went on to make her American debut. She starred as the wife of Gilbert Roland in Bud Boetticher’s “The Bullfighter And The Lady” (1951), shot in Mexico.
Katy Jurado (as Nita) was part of the cast of “Arrowhead” by Charles Marquis Warren, a western Technicolor film released in 1953. She starred alongside Jack Palance, Brian Keith and Milburn Stone.
“One-Eyed Jacks” (1961) is one of the many Hollywood movies Katy Jurado featured in during her days. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2018.
Marlon Brando, who starred in the movie, also directed it, and it was the only movie he ever directed. It was about two friends and partners, Dad Longworth and Rio, who decided to rob a bank and one of them, Rio, had to take the fall after things went sideways.
Rio went to jail, and after five years, he broke out to seek revenge on his long time partner, who now leads a respectable life.
Dad Longworth, who is now the sheriff of Monterey, California, is married to a local woman Maria, played by Katy Jurado, prides himself on being a good stepfather to her daughter, Louisa.
Rio convinces Dad he bears no grudge from the past and then seduces his stepdaughter, which causes Dad to get outraged. Rio was forced to leave, but he realises his love for Louisa was genuine and came back for her, ultimately killing Dad in a gunfight before then marrying his love.
If there is one American actor who is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, Marlon Brando would be that guy, and no actor ever exerted such a profound influence on succeeding generations of actors as did Brando.
To date, American actors are still being measured by the yardstick that was Brando as he solely eclipsed the reputation of other great actors. He was instrumental in Katy Jurado’s career and was also rumoured to have had an affair with her.
He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., and Dorothy Julia Pennebaker on 3 April 1924 and was one of three children.
He was not the only one with a flair for acting in his family, as his oldest sister Jocelyn Brando was also an actress. Acting was the only thing Marlon was good at, for which he received praise. It was a skill he honed as a child, and he was determined to make a career of it.
On 19 October 1944, Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway in “I Remember Mama” which was a massive success. He went on play the role of a paraplegic soldier when he eventually made his film debut much later in Fred Zinnemann’s “The Men” (1950).
He acted in many notable movies during his career including, “The Godfather” (1972) and “Superman” (1978).
Stay Away, Joe
“Stay Away, Joe” is an American comedy Western film starring Elvis Presley, Burgess Meredith, Katy Jurado and Joan Blondell. The film was released in 1968 and had musical interludes and a modern setting. Jurado played Annie Lightcloud, who was stepmother to Presley’s character, Joe Lightcloud.
Jurado was an eccentric movie star who went dazzled during her years, however, sometimes, being a famous screen star comes with its own downtimes.
She got married very early just to cancel her parents efforts at shipping her away to a boarding school and obstruct her path to her desired choice of career.
Her first husband was an aspiring actor, Víctor Velázquez, and they welcomed two children named Victor Hugo and Sandra. Victor Velázquez was the stepfather of popular Mexican actresses Tere and Lorena Velázquez. However, her marriage to Velázquez did not last long as the pair got divorced in 1943.
She got involved with filmmaker Budd Boetticher and actor Tyrone Power and even went on dates with Marlon Brando. On 31 December 1959, Katy Jurado married her second husband, the American actor Ernest Borgnine, who she met during the filming of the movie “Vera Cruz” (1954) in México.
Her marriage to Ernest was not without complications as numerous incidents of violence was reported. The pair later got separated in 1963. In 1968, after seeming to have hit rock bottom, Jurado attempted to kill herself. She called her agent, saying she had taken 67 sleeping pills and that she would sleep, but her agent called authorities to rescue her.
Katy Jurado suffered from heart and lung ailments towards the end of her days. She eventually surrendered to kidney failure and pulmonary disease on 5 July 2002 at 78 at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Jurado was buried at the Panteón de la Paz cemetery in Cuernavaca.
There is no doubt that Katy Jurado enjoyed massive success and fame in Hollywood and even in the Mexican film industry and notably, she also paved the way for others like her to feature in Hollywood without being misportrayed in roles.
Jurado was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to motion pictures. More recently, she was honored on 16 January 2018 with a Google Doodle.
Katy Jurado is testament to achieving one’s goal if the determination is there. She literally fought though her family’s opposition to pursue her dreams and eventually became a household name in Mexico and Hollywood.
Not only has she made a name for herself but has inspired many across the world as well as open doors to others who are considered as minorities to rise above the ranks.
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