Honoring Maria Felix, the biggest diva of Mexican cinema
Each year, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the U.S., from Sept. 15th through Oct. 15th, to recognize the important contributions Latinos/Hispanics have made to the country. During this month, Hispanic history and culture are honored. To join in on the annual celebration, photographer Viv Delgadillo and I honor our heritage through a tribute to Maria Felix, Mexico’s most legendary film actress. Through this visual and written homage, we aim to capture her iconic style and independent spirit.
Maria Felix, also known as La Doña, was one of the most important and successful figures of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, during the 1940s and 50s. This uber successful actress was Mexico’s answer to Marilyn Monroe in terms of style, beauty and status. But Maria Felix was so much more.
She had a fierce and independent spirit that was incomparable to any Old Hollywood starlet. She portrayed strong and leading female roles, mingled with social circles that included famous artists + internationally acclaimed intellectuals and exclusively dated high-profile men.
She was a true chingona.
This legendary woman was known for her strong opinions and candid responses during interviews. She was a blunt and tough dame that often spoke about not letting men dictate her life or affect her decisions. This is significant because she lived during a time in Mexico in which independent, strong-willed women were rare.
The movie that made Maria Felix famous was Doña Barbara, in which she portrayed a contemptuous man-eater woman. This role helped her to create the larger-than-life character that Maria Felix personified for the rest of her life. An important part of embodying La Doña was self-confidence bordering on arrogance. Thus, she was admired by the public but not necessarily loved.
Because La Doña wanted it all or nothing, she turned down working in Hollywood, as she disliked the supporting or stereotypical Latina roles she was offered. But she became very famous in European cinema, especially in France, where she lived for a period of time.
La Doña was considered one of the most beautiful film actresses of her time compelling Agustin Lara, her third husband and Mexico’s most famous composer, to write a love song for her called Maria Bonita.
Maria’s last husband, a French banker, financed Mexico City’s metro system so La Doña could commute in style, the way she was accustomed to in Paris. D-I-V-A.
This tribute serves to commemorate her legacy of commanding attitude, iconic style and striking beauty.