This month, the Mexican government announced that it had discovered the first known audio recording of Frida Kahlo’s voice. But after multiple skeptics with ties to Kahlo, including relatives and former students, shared their doubts, it seems clear that the recording isn’t of the famed Mexican painter after all. However, the woman in the clip who was likely mistaken for Kahlo is somewhat of a hidden Mexican badass herself: Amparo Garrido.
A popular dubbing artist, Garrido played the voice of Snow White when Disney dubbed the 1937 classic film in the 1960s. The actress also voiced Bambi’s mother when it too was made for a Spanish audience and played several youthful characters on radio shows at the start of her career. In addition to her work in children’s films and programs, Garrido also worked on El Bachiller, a Mexican radio program in the 1950s.
On June 13, a clip from El Bachiller was found by archivists from Televisa Radio’s who were digitizing and preserving a collection donated by the late Mexican broadcaster and screenwriter Álvaro Gálvez y Fuentes. In the recording, a voice believed to be Kahlo’s reads from the artist’s 1949 essay “Portrait of Diego,” where she describes her husband, muralist Diego Rivera. “He is a gigantic, immense child, with a friendly face and a sad gaze,” the woman reads.
Garrido, however, believes the voice is hers.
“When listening to this audio I remembered some things and I got excited because I did recognize myself,” she told El Universal.
Garrido was made aware of the recording from her son, who identified his mother’s voice as soon as he heard it.
“When I watched a television program, I heard a voice that I recognized as my mother’s, and in the program they said it was Frida Kahlo, which I thought was very strange, because I noticed that it was a voice of an actress or an announcer, that is, a studied voice, with nuances, ” her son Ismael Eduardo Larumbe added.
When he showed the recording to his brothers, they all agreed with him.
“They also told me that it was my mom. [The audio] is very much in time, form and circumstance when my mom recorded very often with El Bachiller, and her tone, coloratura and intention are practically the same,” he continued.
Larumbe said he is sure it’s not Kahlo’s voice in the recording because “it is a studied voice [and] there is no poet who reads his poems like a declaimer.”
Kahlo’s relatives and former students don’t think it’s the iconized painter, either.
“As far as Kahlo family knows, there are no records of Frida’s voice,” they said in a statement, according to the Guardian.
Two of her art students, Arturo Estrada Hernández and Guillermo Monroy Becerril, also noted that the voice in the clip didn’t sound like that of their one-time teacher.
“The thing is, I don’t recognize the voice,” Becerril said. “The first time I met her, I noticed she was a woman with a very sweet, cheerful voice … Frida’s real voice was very lively, charming, and cheery. It wasn’t serious or smooth or delicate … it was crystal clear.”
It is also unlikely that Kahlo, who died in 1954, was well enough to voice the recording, which was broadcast the following year.
“That makes things difficult, because in 1954, she was in hospital practically the whole time. And besides, the voice is rather an affected one,” Larumbe said.
As more information surrounding the viral recording of one of the most famous painters of all time come forward, it seems less and less likely that the voice heard is that of Kahlo. But while archivists may not have discovered what they initially believed they did, they did shine a spotlight on another Mexican voice that many of us, who watched Spanish-language Disney classic films in our home countries, enjoyed growing up.
Read: Frida Kahlo’s Former Students Deny Claims That The Recording Thought To Be Her Voice Is Actually Hers