My day started like any other Thursday. I woke up, made myself coffee, and settled into my couch to look for news pieces I could cover. I went to my beloved Google, and then I noticed its daily doodle: a woman with short, curly hair and an oversized straw hat, surrounded by colorful blooms. I clicked the drawing within .5 seconds and was transported to what felt like an alternate reality, one where I was put face-to-face with a woman I hadn’t heard of but somehow still knew.
My mom is Mexican, and although Dolores’s name sounded familiar, I couldn’t place her. But, as soon as I saw the glamorous black-and-white photos of her, I recognized her. In her short curly hair, expressive eyes, and lipstick-stained lips, I recognized myself.
Dolores Del Río was born in Durango, Mexico in 1904.
Her family lost everything during the Mexican revolution in 1916 and then moved to Mexico City. It was there that Dolores became a socialite, eventually marrying James Del Río. The two befriended Hollywood producer and director Edwin Carewe, and moved to Hollywood to work on launching their careers.
After signing an exclusive contract with Edwin, Dolores filmed her first movie, Joanna, followed by What Price Glory, Resurrection, and Ramona. Dolores received critical acclaim for her films, and cemented herself as a Hollywood starlet in the ’20s — even though she was fighting to be recognized as a Mexican actress, and not just as Spanish.
Dolores divorced, remarried, and divorced again (thanks to a romance with Orson Welles), and ended up moving back to Mexico in 1942. Then everything changed. Mexican director Emilio Fernández offered Dolores a spot on his film Flor silvestr. Even though it was her first time filming in Spanish, this movie led to the actress becoming one of the most famous movie stars in Mexico at the tender age of 37.
Dolores was responsible for helping launch what’s called the “golden era of cinema” in Mexico, which happened in the ’40s and ’50s.
Besides being one of Mexico’s most iconic actresses, Dolores was also the first woman to serve on the Cannes Film Festival jury. And in the ’60s, she co-founded the Society for the Protection of the Artistic Treasures of Mexico, which aimed to preserve historical buildings and works of art in the country.
As a Mexican-American woman living ten minutes away from Hollywood, I feel like I owe a lot to Dolores. Not only did she help shape the film industry in two countries that make up who I am, she also helped pave the way for women achieving their dreams.
From now on, when I wear my black hair in curls and swipe on my lipstick, I’ll be reminded of Dolores.
Today, we remember and honor this starlet. May her beauty, legacy, bravery, and perseverance remind us that anything is possible when we put our hearts to it.