Edit
Maria Montez Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (19) | Personal Quotes (3) | Salary (3)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 6 June 1912Barahona, Dominican Republic
Date of Death 7 September 1951Paris, France  (drowned)
Birth NameMaria Africa Antonia Gracia Vidal de Santo Silas
Nicknames The Queen of Technicolor
The Caribbean Cyclone
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (2)

In a world weary of war and dispirited by the ravages of the Great Depression, Hollywood at the turn of the 1940's concocted a wildly popular, effective lot of escapist fare (though often cheaply made) to regale the sick at heart worldwide. Universal Pictures, more often than not, led in producing such films. We know about the monster movies: wolf men, invisible men -- and invisible women too, for that matter. We know about Sherlock Holmes chasing not killer hounds in 1890 but chasing killer Nazis a half- century later. Such were among typical Universal "B" productions. Enter Maria de Santo Silas -- Maria Montez. This daughter of a Spanish diplomat traveled extensively after being educated in the Canary Islands and attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to establish herself as a stage actress in Europe. In 1940 she found herself in New York City, a model. Her screen career began in 1941, with Universal casting her in bit parts. On account of her strikingly exotic looks and her exotic accent, the studio soon paired her with other "exotics" (Sabu and Turhan Bey), and usually with a more "home-style" hero (Jon Hall), in a series of low-budget adventures, filmed in Technicolor and situated in fantasy lands, with Montez herself often situated in revealing dress. With Montez threatened by all manner of nastiness -- from evil caliphs to man-eating sharks to her own cobra-worshipping twin sister (!) -- her pictures soon became immensely popular, even though she could not really act, could not dance and could not sing. Audiences flocked to see her films, just to witness the trials and endurance of an alluring beauty in distress (as well, perhaps, as to glimpse some scantily clad, beauteous flesh). The Depression having long since passed, the end of World War II meant also the end of flying carpets and sand dunes and deadly reptiles as potential subjects for attracting moviegoers. That bit of history, plus a bit of girth added to Montez's frame, led her and her husband, the actor Jean-Pierre Aumont, to abandon Hollywood for Europe, where she would appear in a handful of French and Italian adventure films. On 7 September 1951 Maria Montez was discovered drowned in her bath, possibly having first suffered a heart attack.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bill Takacs <kinephile@aol.com>

Maria Montez, also known as The Caribbean Cyclone, was born Maria Africa Vidal de Santo Silas, on June 6, 1917, in Barahona, Dominican Republic, to a Spanish consul and his wife. After a stint in modeling, she made an attempt at Hollywood. Maria's exotic beauty landed her a contract in the movie colony. Her first film was as Marie in The Invisible Woman (1940). Five more movies with five more bit roles followed until the Hollywood brass decided to do something more with the beautiful Miss Montez. They gave her a sizable role in 1941's Boss of Bullion City (1940). That was followed the next year by a bit more substantial role in Arabian Nights (1942). It was these sand-and-sandal epics of the 1940s that kept Maria employed and moviegoers enthralled. The US was still trying to get out from under The Great Depression, and the public was weary of the war that was spreading throughout Europe and Asia. Hollywood turned to fantasy films, and Maria was just what audiences were looking for. She was immensely popular with the public. Her acting skills may not have been appreciated by some critics, but the public didn't seem to mind. They liked Maria and the dangers she faced in these cheaply made but colorful adventure flicks. Each desert film attracted droves of Montez fans to the box-office. As the Depression eased and the war ended, however, fans became bored with her films. After her Hollywood career faded, she moved to Europe with her second husband, actor Jean-Pierre Aumont. She appeared in a number of German, French and Italian productions. Her final film was a German movie entitled Schatten über Neapel (1951) (aka "Camorra"). On September 7 of that year, Maria was discovered dead of a heart attack. She was only 39 and had appeared in only 27 movies, but her legacy lives on in the colorful characterizations that she left on film. She is still a much loved figure in movie history.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (2)

Jean-Pierre Aumont (13 July 1943 - 7 September 1951) (her death) (1 child)
William McFeeters (28 November 1932 - 1939)

Trivia (19)

Mother, with Jean-Pierre Aumont, of actress Tina Aumont Aumont (b. 1946, Los Angeles, Calif.).
Humorously portrayed in "Myron" by Gore Vidal (1973)
The international airport at Barahona, Dominican Republic, is named the Maria Montez International Airport in her honor. [1997]
Sister of Julia Andre
The second daughter of ten children, her father was a textile exporter and the Honorary Vice Consul of Spain in the Dominican Republic.
For her stage name, Maria chose the last name of Montez in honor of dancer Lola Montes, a favorite of Maria's father. However, she was overruled by the studio when she insisted on spelling it with an S, not a Z.
Accepted Jean-Pierre Aumont's marriage proposal despite the fact that his "duties as a French officer" would call him overseas a few days after the wedding. She jokingly cracked that he had left her "to cold showers.".
Female impersonator/"drag queen" Mario Montez (born Rene Rivera) modeled his drag person (and name) on her.
Was a major iconic figure of gay camp in the 1950s & '60s. In addition to being a character who appears in various Andy Warhol's films of the 1960s (played by Mario Montez, she appeared as a major character in Gore Vidal's 1974 novel "Myron," his sequel to "Myra Breckinridge".
She was a passionate believer in astrology.
Despite being born in the Dominican Republic, she was actually Spanish, the daughter of the Honorary Spanish vice-consul in Santo Domingo.
In 1951 she won a lawsuit against Seymour Nebenzal for $50,000 over money she was owed from the flop "Siren of Atlantis." As the picture made no money, she never collected.
She was educated in a convent in the Canary Islands.
At sixteen, she went to Ireland and played a few minor roles in plays there before marrying a wealthy Irishman, William G. McFeeters. But little prepared for the austere life on a big estate Maria hit the road again in 1939 and landed in New York where she became a much sought after model, notably for McClelland-Barclay.
Universal's best-paid star during the mid-1940s.
Maria Montez auditioned for Orpheus (1950). and Samson and Delilah (1949) but got neither the part of Death nor of Delilah.
Maria's mother was the daughter of political refugees.
In the early forties Maria sat for a photo the Hays Office judged licentious.
While waiting for the return of her husband from war, Maria wrote a novel, "Forever Is a Long Time". Beforehand, she had written a few poems in Spanish.

Personal Quotes (3)

[on viewing Arabian Nights (1942)] When I look at myself, I am so beautiful I scream with joy!
[on her film debut in The Invisible Woman (1940)] When I see myself on the screen, I am so beautiful, I jump for joy!
[After meeting Orson Welles] He is as spectacular as I am!

Salary (3)

That Night in Rio (1941) $150 /week
Raiders of the Desert (1941) $150 /week
Arabian Nights (1942) $150 /week

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page