Lupe Vélez

Active - 1927 - 1943  |   Born - Jul 18, 1908   |   Died - Dec 13, 1944   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Musical, Adventure

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Tempestuous Mexican actress Lupe Velez parlayed her voluptuous figure and tireless energy into a south-of-the-border musical comedy career before she was 20. In 1926, Velez moved to Hollywood, where she secured a role in The Music Box Revue and was featured in a handful of Hal Roach two-reelers. Her first major role in a feature film was as Douglas Fairbanks' fiery vis-à-vis in The Gaucho (1928); she made her talkie debut in D.W. Griffith's Lady of the Pavements. In 1933, she married Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller, a union distinguished by loud, headline-grabbing public spats; they were divorced in 1938. The following year, with her career in the doldrums, Velez starred in an RKO programmer called The Girl From Mexico; this led to the popular Mexican Spitfire series, in which the irrepressible Velez was teamed with rubber-legged character comedian Leon Errol. She returned to Mexico in 1944 to star in Nana, which was not the success she hoped it would be. In December of that year, Lupe Velez killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills.

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