24 Latino Actors Who Didn’t Make It To The Oscars Because They Lived In The Pre-Social Media Age

After the major wins by Mexican directors Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, big-time Latino stars and filmmakers are everywhere. But there was a time when huge megastars spanning from south of the Rio Grande all the way to the Argentine tundras made it big, but did not have the Internet to spread the word around. Here are 24 actors, musicians, and films that would be top Oscar contenders if they had social media to spread their work.

1. Carlos Gardel

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Also known as the father of the tango, he was beyond legendary all over the Americas as a singer, composer, and movie star. His untimely death in a plane crash in the 30s led to perpetuating the legend.

2. Damaso Perez Prado

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The Cuban composer and bandleader enjoyed some success in the United States mainly because of his catchy rhythms. You might remember a tune called Mambo Number 5, made famous in the 90s in mainstream radio.

3. Celia Cruz

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A voice like hers would’ve definitely tallied a few Oscar nominations and maybe one or two statues. This Cuban legend fled her homeland and settled in the U.S. where she brought the sabor of salsa music to the masses until her final days.

4. Dolores Del Rio

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The original Latina bombshell, she was discovered in Mexico and enjoyed a fascinating career in Hollywood before returning back home. Many of today’s Oscar-nominated Latinas are forever indebted to her groundbreaking work.

5. Carmen Montejo

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Another Cuban beauty with a definite flair for drama. Most of her career developed in Mexico where she flourished in the famous Mexican soap operas well into her 80s. Many of her films cast her in compromising roles, such as prostitute or femme fatale.

6. Libertad Lamarque

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Marvelous Argentinian beauty transcended her native land and was revered all across the Americas. Rumor has it she had a run-in with legendary president Domingo Peron in the 50s after which she settled in Mexico until her death.

7. Katy Jurado

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She ruled the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, even luring another Hollywood great, Ernest Borgnine, to marriage. A stunning beauty, ripe with pure Latina features, she captivated audiences with great performances that today could’ve earned her an Academy Award nomination at the least.

8. Gabriel Figueroa

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The Academy Awards of today are full of great representatives of Mexican and Latin American cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki comes to mind. Yet, it was Figueroa who set in motion since the 40s the acclaimed landscaping frames that adorned the films of its day. #LatinoExcellence

9. Maria Felix

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Perhaps the most beautiful and tough as nails actress in Mexican history, she lived up to her legend as a top-notch femme fatale. A beauty like this, in the Internet age, surely would’ve had over 1 million followers on any social media, plus a not so small collection of golden statuettes.

10. Cantiflas

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Cantiflas, aka Mario Moreno, was to Latin America what Charles Chaplin was to the world. His trademark tongue twisters laced with gibberish still make people laugh out loud. He did win a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy award in the 50s but imagine his reach had he had Instagram.

11. Emilio Fernandez

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Better known as “El Indio”, he did it all: acting, directing, you name it. Typically portraying the rural macho, Fernandez oozed a primitive sensuality that dominated the silver screen. He continued his career well into his 80s with the same intensive screen presence.

12. Resortes

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Just do a search on any browser on Adalberto Martinez’ dancing and you might get a hint of where Michael Jackson found his legendary moonwalk dance. Resortes was a comedian bar none, but his dancing skills were beyond measure. He could’ve given Gene Kelly a good run for his money at any awards ceremony.

13. Juan Orol

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Although crime from south of the border is highly prevalent in the media nowadays, it was Juan Orol who exploited the Latino gangster scene during the 40s and 50s with surreal films squaring cowboys and mobsters. Just imagine Edward G. Robinson speaking in Spanish and you’ll get the idea.

14. Fernando De Fuentes

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One of the first Latin directors to use sound in films. De Fuentes’ storytelling, full of romance, song, and happiness, defined the first attempts at creating the Golden Age of Mexican filmmaking. There’s no doubt that “Allá en el Rancho Grande” being his greatest achievement.

15. Ninon Sevilla

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Hailing from Cuba, and blessed with extraordinary grace, talent, and rhythm, she led the way in the acclaimed “rumbera” style of cinema. It is a style marked with a combination of sin, redemption and a whole lot of booty shaking. There was no one better than Ninon to set the stage on fire.

16. Ismael Rodriguez

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This legendary filmmaker created a good number of masterpieces during the 50s. He used a combination of romance, bromance, and a good share of drama. He became the resident director of one of the most famous stars of all times in Latin cinema, Pedro Infante.

17. Pedro Infante

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An attractive, fun-loving, and very talented singer and actor, Infante had an aura of charisma during his short-lived career. After dying in a plane crash in 1957, people flocked to his funeral bringing the Mexico City metropolis to a halt. Combining macho with sensibility, he could’ve easily had Hollywood at his feet.

18. Jorge Negrete

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The precursor to Pedro Infante’s rowdiness, Negrete had a voice like few. He even had very masculine looks especially when dressed in the Charro outfit. He became known as the singing Charro until his untimely death in 1953 due to health complications.

19. Pedro Armendariz

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This Mexican tough guy had a good career on both sides of the Rio Grande. He shared the set with Hollywood legends like John Wayne. Like the Duke, he portrayed boldness in his characters, always laced with a Latino sensuality that in today’s web-based age maybe could’ve gone all the way.

20. “Flor Silvestre”

Films Mundiales

This film features four of the entertainers mentioned here: Dolores del Rio, Pedro Armendariz, director Emilio Fernandez and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. It received many accolades for its representation of the idyllic and turbulent times life during the Mexican Revolution of the early 1900s.

21. “Maria Candelaria”

Films Mundiales

It’s no surprise that the same quartet from “Flor Silvestre” is featured here as they were the backbone of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Considered one of Fernández’s best works, rumor has it that Fernández was dating Del Rio and didn’t have a birthday present for her, so he offered her the starring role.

22. Tin-Tan

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German Valdes, aka Tin-Tina, was a definite show man of his era. He practically invented the “Pachuco” style, later popularized in Hollywood by the film “Zoot Suit”. He could sing, dance, act, and he made people laugh with his gestures. The Internet would’ve been ablaze with such a star.

23. Wrestler Movie Stars

Filmadora Panamericana / Cinematográfica Norte

An often-overlooked genre, Mexican wrestling films enjoy cult following throughout Europe and Asia. With quirky plots featuring the most admired Mexican masked wrestlers, such as El Santo, Blue Demon and Rayo de Jalisco, the heroes embark into combating the forces of evil, whether zombies or demons. The films were so rudimentary that they became legendary.

24. Andrea Palma

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Born into a wealthy family at the start of the 20th century, her almost mystic beauty featured her in roles mostly as prostitute or woman in trouble. A good part of her family was also into movies as writers, directors, and more. She is considered also as one of the first major female stars of her time.

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Pioneer, Feminist, Proud Mexican: Katy Jurado Changed Hollywood In The 1950s


Pioneer, Feminist, Proud Mexican: Katy Jurado Changed Hollywood In The 1950s

Whether you know Katy Jurado from your Mexican mami calling every one of her friend’s daughter’s “the next Katy Jurado” or from her actual 1940’s Golden Age of Mexican cinema films, Katy Jurado is a Latino household name.

She was stunning and often played the archetype of a villainous “femme fatale” that every Feminism 101 class studies. Above all, she was a pioneer for Latinas everywhere.

Her full name is María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García.

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Born in Guadalajara, to Luis Jurado Ochoa and Vicenta Estela García de la Garza. Luis was an lawyer and Vicenta was a singer. Vicenta’s brother, Katy’s uncle, was famous musician Belisario de Jesús García (think “Las Cuatro Milpas”).

Jurado was a Capricorn.

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She was born on January 16, 1924, and like a true Capricorn, she had major career ambitions. While she went to a school run by Guadalupe nuns, by the time she was a teenager, producers were inviting her to work as an actress.

She signed her first contract without permission from her parents, making her first film when she was 16.

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When her parents found out, they threatened to send her to a boarding school in Monterrey. However, that did not deter her for chasing her dreams.

Her family was so wealthy, they owned most of Texas until the Revolution.

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Her parents’ holdings were confiscated during the Mexican Revolution, and the parental power mostly laid in Jurado’s abuelita.

Think of her as the Silver Screen Veronica Lodge. Katy Jurado was so set on pursuing her career, that she ended up working as a movie columnist and bullfight critic to support herself.

Katy Jurado’s love for bullfighting won over John Wayne himself.

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Her work as a movie columnist and bullfight critic landed her within sight of John Wayne at a bullfight. He immediately cast her in his film Bullfighter and the Lady (1951).

They also briefly dated, va va voom.

After that film, Hollywood wanted her to play alongside Grace Kelly in “High Noon.”

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High Noon is as classic of a Western as you can get. These days, we think of them as an archaic past, but it was filmed in real time. A sheriff retires, but the plot thickens when some outlaws escape jail and come to get him.

She spoke no English and literally just memorized the sounds of the English lines.

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She took English classes two hours a day for two months to begin to understand English for the role.

Caption: “I know the feeling Katy, I know the feeling. #BeingMexicanInTheUSAintEasy”

With that performance, she became the first Latina to win a Golden Globe.

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In the film, she played a saloon owner, Helen Ramírez, an old love interest of star Gary Cooper. Katy Jurado is seen here consoling Cooper’s character’s wife (Grace Kelly), who is abandoning her husband. Ramirez convinces her to stay and fight.

Katy Jurado is best known for breaking stereotypes.

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The New York Times quotes Katy Jurado as being proud of her role on High Noon:

“I am very proud to make this picture because I look and act like a Mexican – not imitation. Some Mexicans go to Hollywood and lose a career in Mexico because they play imitation. I don’t want this to happen to me.”

Instead of being highly sexualized like other Mexican roles, Jurado took on villainous roles.

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The LA Times quotes her as saying, “I didn’t take all the films that were offered, just those with dignity.” Once, she played a Jewish woman in “Barabbas” alongside Anthony Quinn. She told the Associated Press that she wouldn’t play shallow American stereotypes of Mexicans.

She got married when she was 15 years old.

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She was with aspiring actor Victor Velázquez for four years before they divorced. They got married just three months after she signed that secret contract.

In 1959, she married actor Ernest Borgnine.

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The two met on the set of Vera Cruz, which was filmed in Mexico. The two divorced four years later.

He famously described her as “beautiful, but a tiger.”

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According to Laura Arnáiz’ biography of Katy Jurado’s life, Jurado said, “Borgnine and I met by accident when we collided in a dark room when leaving a restaurant. He chased me for two years. What did I do for that this man loves me this way? Our courtship was one of the best periods of my life. We were married soon after, but his jealousy and insecurities turned the marriage into hell.”

Katy Jurado also had an affair with Marlon Brando, who was simultaneously dating Rita Moreno.

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He was also married to Movita Castaneda. After Brando saw her in High Noon, he was smitten and asked her out on a date, which became a years-long affair.

According to Darwin Porter’s biography of Marlon Brando, Brando Unzipped, years later Jurado recalled in an interview, “Marlon called me one night for a date, and I accepted. I knew all about Movita. I knew he had a thing for Rita Moreno. Hell, it was just a date. I didn’t plan to marry him.”

Jurado claims that the love of her life was novelist Louis L’Amour.

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According to El Periodico, Katy Jurado said, “I have letters of love that he wrote to me until the last day of his life, but because of our jobs we could never coincide, he was the man of my life, and I, the woman of his life, should have married that man .. . ”

After her son, Victor Hugo, tragically died in a car accident, she pulled out of acting.

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She went to the funeral one day and the next went back to set. She said she hated the camera during that time as a symbol of what took her away from spending time with her kids while she had them.

Director John Huston invited Katy Jurado to act in Under the Volcano years later, to help pull her out of her depression.

That same year, she played alongside Héctor Elizondo in an ABC family sitcom.

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The most shocking element of this photo is realizing that Elizondo (famous for Princess Diaries) was ever young. The series only lasted six episodes.

In 1954, she became the first Mexican woman to be awarded los claves a NYC.

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She spent most of her life in her home in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, and said that she felt she’d have been more successful in Hollywood if she wasn’t so ready to leave Los Angeles between filming.

Jurado won three Silver Ariel awards and was nominated for an Oscar.

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The Ariels are the Mexican Oscars. Katy Jurado was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Broken Lance.

This year, Google recognized Katy Jurado with a doodle on her birthday, January 16.

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While today, we might find her villainous seduction problematic, Katy Jurado truly paved the way for more Latin American actresses to make a stake as something more than a sex object. She played women who had more than one side to them, who had motives, a brain, and a willingness to bend social norms to meet their needs.

Katy Jurado died in 2002 at age 78.

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You can find her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and marvel in her incredible performance on High Noon–remembering that she acted out a foreign language phonetically.

READ: 24 Latino Actors Who Didn’t Make It To The Oscars Because They Lived In The Pre-Social Media Age

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