You’ll Never Guess All the Old Hollywood Icons That Actually Had Latin American Roots
If you’re a fan of Old Hollywood movies like “Gone With The Wind,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “All About Eve,” there’s no doubt you know a thing or two about the era’s icons, too. While many of us have dressed up as Marilyn Monroe for Halloween (or had that poster in high school), and possibly fantasized about being Wonder Woman for a day, there’s one big detail the media leaves out.
As TikToker @neifertenrique pointed out in a recent viral video, several Hollywood legends actually had Latin American roots, even if they never really talked about them.
Whitewashed by studios and even given white-sounding name changes, you’ll never guess the icons that were at least partially from Latin American countries.
Ahead, find seven surprising celebrities from years past that had Latin American descent.
1. Raquel Welch
First up, Raquel Welch: as TikTok user @neifertenrique explained, she was “a huge actress in Hollywood, a major sex symbol of the 60s and 70s,” and although many people don’t know it — she was half-Bolivian. Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada, and her father was an aeronautical engineer from La Paz, Bolivia. As per the New York Times, her father was all about assimilating and banned speaking Spanish at home, but Welch has reclaimed her Bolivian identity later in life.
2. Anthony Quinn
Next up, Anthony Quinn, who was a household name in the 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. Quinn was actually born Manuel Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca in Chihuahua, Mexico, and had both Mexican and Irish descent. As detailed by @neifertenrique, Quinn was cast in several “ethnic roles” throughout his life, such as in the Western film “They Died With Their Boots On,” and “forced to do brownface.”
3. Linda Carter
While you might have grown up watching “Wonder Woman,” at least those awesome afterschool reruns, you might have never realized lead actress Lynda Carter is actually part Mexican. Another actress brought up by @neifertenrique, iconic Carter was born Lynda Jean Cordova Carter, to a Mexican mother. Per Nobleza Magazine, her mother, Juana Córdova, and grandmother hailed from Chihuahua, and Carter once spoke about “sorting the beans on the table, spreading the masa on the corn husks” in her grandmother’s kitchen.
4. Marilyn Monroe
Believe it or not, Marilyn Monroe’s mother Gladys Pearl Monroe was actually born in Piedras Negras in Coahuila, Mexico. However, per Distractify, the elder Monroe’s parents were not Mexican. Her father Otis was a railroad painter born in Indianapolis, Indiana, while her mother Della was from Arkansas. Both moving to Mexico to work, they moved to Los Angeles after Gladys’ birth. Still, the “Some Like It Hot” actress was practically fluent in Spanish, and often visited her mother’s birth country.
5. Sammy Davis Jr.
Rat Pack member, singer, dancer and actor Sammy Davis Jr. was undoubtedly an icon throughout his heyday in the 50s and 60s, starring in Broadway plays like “Mr. Wonderful,” performing with pal Frank Sinatra, and playing legendary roles in movies like “Ocean’s 11.” A little known detail? Davis Jr.’s mother Elvera Sanchez was from Puerto Rico. In fact, as per Biography, the triple-threat often referred to himself as “the only Black, Puerto Rican, one-eyed, Jewish entertainer in the world” (he converted to Judaism later in life).
6. Vanna White
This one might come as a shock: emblematic “Wheel of Fortune” hostess Vanna White is half-Puerto Rican. While White rose to fame on the show in the 1980s, few know that her biological father Miguel Angel Rosich was actually from Ponce, Puerto Rico. However, she was raised by her stepfather Herbert White Jr., and took his last name.
7. Freddie Prinze
Last but not least, 1970s actor and comedian Freddie Prinze (and father of actor Freddie Prinze Jr.) also hailed partly from Latin America. The star of 70s show “Chico and the Man” up until his tragic 1977 suicide, Prinze was born to a Puerto Rican mother named Maria de Gracia Pruetzel Graniela y Ramirez.
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