Mexican Film Actress Lupita Tovar Dies At 106 Lupita Tovar became a pioneer of Mexican cinema. Her career began in the silent film era. In 1931, she co-starred in Universal's Spanish-language version of Dracula.
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Mexican Film Actress Lupita Tovar Dies At 106

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Mexican Film Actress Lupita Tovar Dies At 106

Mexican Film Actress Lupita Tovar Dies At 106

Mexican Film Actress Lupita Tovar Dies At 106

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/502111417/502111418" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Lupita Tovar became a pioneer of Mexican cinema. Her career began in the silent film era. In 1931, she co-starred in Universal's Spanish-language version of Dracula.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The actress Lupita Tovar has died at age 106. Her career began all the way back in the silent film era. She became a pioneer of Mexican cinema. And she also became Hollywood royalty. NPR's Adrian Florido has this appreciation.

GREENE: When Lupita Tovar was 16, she auditioned for an American talent scout in Mexico. He asked her to imagine that her mother had died and she began to weep.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LUPITA TOVAR: Tears started rolling down, you know. Then he got up and he said, I will see you in Hollywood.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: That was from a 2008 interview with NPR's Renee Montagne. When talkies started replacing silent films, studios needed actors to make Spanish-language versions of their films for Latin America. In 1931, Universal made a Spanish language "Dracula," which many critics prefer to the English version because it's livelier and more erotic. Tovar starred as Eva Seward, who falls under the vampire's spell.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DRACULA")

CARLOS VILLARIAS: (As Conde Dracula) Soy Dracula.

TOVAR: (As Eva Seward) Dracula.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

TOVAR: My wardrobe was the sexiest ever (laughter). You know, they gave me - this negligee's all transparent, you know. It was a different wardrobe than the American.

FLORIDO: The next year, Tovar starred in "Santa," Mexico's first talking picture. She was branded as the sweetheart of Mexico. Though she acted in Hollywood films for Columbia Pictures, her accent precluded her from most leading roles. But off screen, Tovar became Tinseltown royalty. Her husband, agent Paul Kohner, represented Henry Fonda, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. Tovar told NPR that she was in Europe during Hitler's rise, when a producer offered her role as long as she didn't use her husband's last name. He was Jewish.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

TOVAR: I got up. I took the script. And I said, and you know what you can do with it? And I walk out. But, you know, I can never keep my mouth shut. If I feel something, I mean, I'll say it.

FLORIDO: Tovar stopped acting long ago, but she was the matriarch of a Hollywood family. Her daughter, actress Susan Kohner, was nominated for an Oscar in 1959. Her grandsons, Chris and Paul Weitz, directed the movie's "American Pie" and "About A Boy." Adrian Florido, NPR News.

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