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Lupita Tovar Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (8) | Personal Quotes (11) | Salary (4)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 27 July 1910Matias Romero, Oaxaca, Mexico
Date of Death 12 November 2016Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth NameGuadalupe Tovar
Height 5' 1" (1.55 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Lupita Tovar appeared first in silent Fox films before making the move to Universal and co-starring in the Spanish-language version of 1930's "The Cat Creeps" (La voluntad del muerto (1930)). For the same producer, Czech-born Paul Kohner, she appeared as Eva Seward (the Spanish-language counterpart of Helen Chandler's Mina) in Universal's Spanish Dracula (1931). In 1932, she married Kohner, who later became one of the top agents in Hollywood. (Their actress-daughter, Susan Kohner, was Oscar-nominated for her performance in Universal's 1959 Imitation of Life (1959); their son, Pancho Kohner, is a producer). Tovar gave up films in the 1940s and has been widowed since 1988.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tom Weaver <TomWeavr@aol.com>

Spouse (1)

Paul Kohner (31 October 1932 - 16 March 1988) (his death) (2 children)

Trivia (8)

Mother of Pancho Kohner and Susan Kohner
Grandmother of Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz
Interviewed in Tom Weaver's book "Attack of the Monster Movie Makers" (McFarland & Co., 1994).
Mother-in-law of Mercedes Martinez.
She acted in the first Mexican talkie film, Santa (1932).
She was born in Mexico of a Mexican father and an Irish mother.
She and her daughter Susan Kohner both starred in films that the Library of Congress selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2015: Tovar in Drácula (1931) and Kohner in Imitation of Life (1959).
She died on November 12, 2016, the day after her daughter Susan Kohner's 80th birthday.

Personal Quotes (11)

[on Don 'Red' Barry] I remember Don; a little man, always talking, always telling stories while I was learning the dialogue. He could be difficult - he was not as easy as the other cowboys. He was young and difficult.
I was with Fox for one year - just four films, all were silents including Joy Street (1929) and The Veiled Woman (1929). Talking pictures were coming in, and there was chaos everywhere! I couldn't speak English.
[on how her career began] I was 18 and still in school. Robert J. Flaherty, a famous documentary director who worked for Fox at the time, went to Mexico with his assistant. Fox would bring young people into the United States from Italy, Spain, Brazil and finally, Mexico. They visited my school, saw me, but of course I had no idea who Robert Flaherty was. They came back to make tests; they made 65 tests for others - those who were on the stage, in high society, whatever. I made the test and got first prize out of all those 65 tests!

I never felt I'd be in movies - my father was strict, old-fashioned. I saw a few movies, but with my grandmother. My father turned down Fox's first contract. Two weeks later, Fox lawyers sent another contract - with a letter from the counsel general saying what an honor it was, that I was chosen, so my father finally agreed. I came to Hollywood in 1928 with my grandmother.
[on her near-miss kiss scene with Gene Autry in South of the Border (1939)] It *was* in the script. Gene Autry never kissed a girl; he was very pure for the kids. Today, we would have been doing more than kissing!
[on her South of the Border (1939) co-stars] [Gene Autry] became a top ten box office star. That picture made a lot of money! Gene was a lovely cowboy. A lovely person, such a gentleman. Smiley [Smiley Burnette], his sidekick, was always nice. I particularly remember the little girl, Mary Lee - such a talent, and the other leading lady, June Storey, who was very pretty.
[on The Westerner (1940)] William Wyler directed. I had a wonderful scene in that - filmed on a donkey. I have a husband. I'm beating him, giving him the dickens, but Wyler never said cut. Finally, after a long, long time, he said cut! He had let me go on and on, hitting this poor man.
[on late husband Paul Kohner] I met Paul in late 1929, went in September of 1932 to Berlin, and married him in October '32. We had a wonderful life together.
[on George O'Brien] A sweetheart; we were very, very good friends. We had many talks. We met at Fox, he was a big star then, as was his wife Marguerite Churchill - but now we were at RKO doing a western [The Fighting Gringo (1939)] together. Their daughter, Orin O'Brien, and my daughter, Susan Kohner, who is a little younger than Orin, were childhood friends and are still friends today! Orin has been playing bass with the New York Philharmonic since 1966. When they were little girls, we'd go to the O'Brien ranch for the weekend. They still see each other often.
I remember I didn't think of myself as an actress - never aspired to it. I was never a dancer - all the Latin girls at school would learn to dance - but in [Border Law (1931)], I improvised. Directors would say, "Can you dance?", and I'd say, "Sure!". I faked it. I never said no when they asked, "Can you do this?". I always said yes. "Can you ride a horse?" - "Sure!".
[on her career in the late 1920s and early 1930s] Universal began dubbing American films into many languages. On Shanghai Lady (1929), I did dubbing all night. I didn't think I had a future. I was ready to go back to Mexico. I went to say goodbye and Universal said, "Wait a minute. Give us 24 hours". I got a call from the studio lawyers - they took me to court and I signed a contract. I made Spanish versions of some talkies. Paul Kohner would make a few in Spanish at the same time as the American versions. They'd work all day, and we'd come in and work 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. all night! I did Spanish-language versions of The Climax (1930), then a remake of The Cat and the Canary (1927) called The Cat Creeps (1930), and of course, Drácula (1931). George Melford was my favorite director and those early Universal movies are my favorite pictures.
[on her success in Mexico] I was called "Sweetheart of Mexico". Right after Drácula (1931), I went to Columbia for Ten Cents a Dance (1931), then to Mexico City to star in their first talking picture, Santa (1932). On May 28, 2001, I received the Life Achievement Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Mexico - their Golden Award at the Opera House. My son and two of my grandchildren came with me - it was a lot of emotional things. That picture started Mexico's film industry.

Salary (4)

The Veiled Woman (1929) $150 /week
Joy Street (1929) $150 /week
The Black Watch (1929) $150 /week
The Cock-Eyed World (1929) $150 /week

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