Lupita Tovar Tribute

Lupita Tovar starred in Santa, Dracula, La Voluntad del muertoAt one point known as Mexico's Sweetheart, Lupita Tovar had a surprisingly brief film career. Apart from a handful of films in the early 1930s, including the Spanish version of Dracula and the Mexican classic Santa, Tovar worked only sporadically in motion pictures.

In Hollywood, she either played in Spanish-language versions of American films, or appeared in minor roles in regular studio fare.

I spoke with her once – while doing research on the life of fellow Mexican Ramon Novarro – and ran into her a couple of times at UCLA and at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. Both times Tovar was accompanied by film historian Bob Dickson, who greatly assisted me in my research. Bob is the co-author (with Juan B. Heinink) of Cita en Hollywood, a comprehensive history of Spanish-language productions in the Hollywood of the 1930s.

On December 7, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be paying tribute to Lupita Tovar, with Bob Dickson acting as the evening's host. Dickson will conduct an onstage discussion with Tovar, which will be followed by a screening of Santa, a drama directed by silent film star Antonio Moreno, and possibly the actress' biggest success.

Santa (1931) by Antonio Moreno, with Lupita Tovar, Carlos Orellana, Juan Jose Martinez Casado, Donald ReedPress Release:

Beverly Hills, CA – Actress Lupita Tovar will be the subject of a salute by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday, December 7, at 8 p.m., at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The evening's host, film historian and author Bob Dickson, will conduct an onstage discussion with Tovar, to be followed by the premiere screening of a new print of Santa, starring Tovar as the title character, in Spanish with English subtitles. The event coincides with the Academy's ongoing exhibition “Made in Mexico: The Legacy of Mexican Cinema.”

Tovar was born in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1910. She came to Hollywood as a teenager to pursue acting, first appearing in silent films for the Fox studio. At Universal she starred in the Spanish-language versions of The Cat Creeps (La Voluntad del muerto, 1930) and Dracula (1931), filmed at night on the same sets used during the day for the English-language versions of these films. Over the course of her career, Tovar appeared in more than 30 films before retiring from acting in 1945.

Tovar married Czech émigré producer and later agent Paul Kohner in 1932, beginning a Hollywood film dynasty that includes their son, producer Pancho Kohner; their daughter, Academy Award®-nominated actress Susan Kohner (Imitation of Life, 1959); and their grandsons, the writer-director team of Paul and Chris Weitz.

In Santa, the first popular sound film produced in Mexico, Tovar stars as an innocent small-town girl whose life is ruined when she is abandoned by her soldier lover. A sensation when it was released in Mexico in 1932, the film is now considered a classic.

The new print of Santa is from the Academy Film Archive and the Filmoteca de la UNAM [Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico].

Following the discussion and screening, attendees will have the opportunity to view the “Made in Mexico” exhibition in the Academy's Fourth Floor Gallery, during special viewing hours for this evening only.

Tickets for the Academy's Salute to Lupita Tovar, featuring Santa, are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members. They may be purchased in advance at the Academy during regular business hours, by mail, or on the night of the event, if still available, when the doors open at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, please call (310) 247-3600.

Regular viewing hours for “Made in Mexico” are Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. Please note that the Academy will be closed November 23–26 for Thanksgiving. The exhibition continues through December 17.

Lupita Tovar photos: © A.M.P.A.S.

Lupita Tovar Tribute © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

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3 Comments to Lupita Tovar Tribute

  1. varsha

    lupita,really you are very beautiful in your young are still nice. i am from are still here i am very glad.

  2. ted lopez

    i would like to see the movie Santa can you tell me where to get it or see it

  3. kerry

    Amazing that Ms. Tovar is still with us. She should write her autobiography. I'm sure she'd have lots of good stories to tell, since her husband was a producer, her daughter is an Academy Award-nominated actress, and her two grandsons are directors-screenwriters.