Katy Jurado

María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García, better known as Katy Jurado (Guadalajara, Mexico January 16, 1924 – Cuernavaca, Mexico July 5, 2002), was a Mexican film, stage and television actress. She had a successful film career both in Mexico and in Hollywood.

Jurado had already established herself as an actress in Mexico in the 1940s at the height of the so-called Golden Age of Mexican cinema. She came to Hollywood in 1951 becoming a regular in Western films of the 1950s and 1960s. She worked in many classics of the genre like High Noon (1952), Arrowhead (1953), Broken Lance (1954), One-Eyed Jacks (1960), and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), among others.

Jurado made seventy-one films during her career. She became the first Latin American actress nominated for an Academy Award, as Best Supporting Actress for her work in 1954's Broken Lance, and was the first to win a Golden Globe Award in 1952. Like many Latin actors, she was typecast to play ethnic roles in American films. By contrast, she had a greater variety of roles in Mexican films; sometimes she also sang and danced.

Jurado was one of several Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Others are Dolores del Río and Lupe Vélez.

    Early life

    Katy Jurado was born María Cristina Jurado García on January 16, 1924, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Her parents were Luis Jurado Ochoa and Vicenta Estela García de la Garza. One of three children (her brothers were Luis Raul and Oscar Sergio), Jurado had a privileged childhood. Both her maternal and paternal families were wealthy; six generations earlier, they had owned much of the land that became the state of Texas. Both families lost much of their wealth during the Mexican revolution, when family lands were confiscated by the federal government for redistribution to the landless peasantry. However, Jurado still lived well. Her father was a cattle baron and orange farmer, and her mother was a well-known opera singer who gave up the stage to marry and raise a family. Jurado's cousin, Emilio Portes Gil, was president of Mexico beginning in 1928. Despite the loss of property, the matriarch of the family, her grandmother, continued to live by her aristocratic ideals.

    She studied journalism. Discovered by Director Emilio Fernández when she was sixteen, Jurado went against family wishes and began pursuing a career in acting. Emilio Fernández wanted to cast her in one of his films (La isla de la pasión), but Jurado's grandmother objected to her wish to become a movie actress. To get around the ban, Katy slipped from the grasp of her family's control by marrying the Mexican actor and writer Víctor Velázquez against her parents' wishes. Together, they had a son and a daughter, Víctor Hugo and Sandra. The marriage ended in divorce in 1943, and the children remained with Jurado's family in Mexico when she traveled to the United States to work.



    Jurado in a promotional picture of (1953)

    Jurado began acting in Mexican films in 1943, making her debut in No matarás, directed by Chano Urueta and starring Emilio Tuero and Carmen Montejo. She went on to appear in sixteen more films over the next seven years, in what film historians have identified as the early part of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Gifted with breathtaking beauty and an assertive personality, Jurado specialized in playing wicked and seductive women in a wide variety of films. Her second film was Internado para señoritas (1943), with Mapy Cortés and Emilio Tuero. In the same year she had her first success with her third film, La vida inútil de Pito Pérez, with comedian Manuel Medel. Considered by many as the best Mexican picaresque novel, the film was directed by Miguel Contreras Torres. With Contreras Torres and Medel, Jurado also filmed Bartolo toca la flauta (1944). Other standouts among her early films were Balajú (1944), with David Silva and the Cuban rumbera María Antonieta Pons; Rosa del Caribe (1945), with Maria Elena Marqués; Soltera y con gemelos and La viuda celosa (1945), vehicles for the singer Amanda Ledesma; Guadalajara pues and El último chinaco (1946), both with Luis aguilar; and Prisión de sueños (1946), with Esther Fernandez. In 1947 Jurado appeared in Hay lugar para ... dos, the sequel to the hit film ¡Esquina bajan! (1946), starring David Silva. In 1948 her performance in Nosotros los pobres, directed by Ismael Rodríguez and co-starring Pedro Infante, brought her great popularity. She worked with Infante once again in El seminarista (1949). Before moving on to Hollywood she made Mujer de medianoche (1951), with Gloria Marin and Silvia Pinal, and Cárcel de mujeres (1951), with Sara Montiel and Miroslava, among others.


    Jurado in High Noon (1952)

    In addition to acting, Jurado worked as a movie columnist, radio reporter and bullfight critic to support her family. She was on assignment when Director Budd Boetticher and actor John Wayne spotted her at a bullfight. Neither knew at the time that she was an actress. However, Boetticher, who was also a professional bullfighter, cast Jurado in his 1951 film Bullfighter and the Lady, opposite Gilbert Roland as the wife of an aging matador. Jurado stayed close to home, as the film was made on location in Mexico. At that time she had very limited English language skills, and memorized and delivered her lines phonetically. Despite this handicap, her strong performance brought her to the attention of Hollywood producer Stanley Kramer, who cast her in the classic Western High Noon, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Jurado quickly learned to speak English for the role, studying and taking classes two hours a day for two months. She delivered a powerful performance as the saloon owner Helen Ramírez, former love of reluctant hero Will Kane, in one of the most memorable films of the era. She earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and gained widespread notice in the American movie industry.

    Jurado with Charlton Heston in the 1953 film Arrowhead

    Despite her Hollywood success in the early 1950s, Jurado continued to act in Mexican productions. In 1953 she starred in Luis Buñuel's box-office success El Bruto, with Pedro Armendáriz, for which she received an Ariel Award. She also acted in English-language films produced in Mexico, such as El Corazón y La Espada (1953, opposite Cesar Romero) and Mujeres del Paraíso (1954, opposite Dan O'Herlihy). The same year she starred in Arrowhead with Charlton Heston and Jack Palance, playing a Comanche woman, the love-interest of Heston's character.

    In 1954 Jurado replaced the Mexican actress Dolores del Río (who was accused of being a communist during the McCarthy era) in the film Broken Lance, playing Spencer Tracy's Comanche wife and the mother of Robert Wagner's character. At first there was resistance to her playing the character, because of her youth, but after viewing footage of her scenes, studio executives were impressed. Her performance garnered an Academy Award nomination, a distinction shared by only two other Mexican actresses since then: Salma Hayek as Best Actress in 2002 for Frida, and Adriana Barraza as Best Supporting Actress in 2006 for Babel.

    In 1955 Jurado filmed Trial, directed by Mark Robson, with Glenn Ford and Arthur Kennedy. It was a drama about a Mexican boy accused of raping a white girl, with Jurado playing the mother of the accused. For this role she was again nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.

    In 1954 Jurado made her first film in Europe, appearing with Kirk Douglas and Cesar Romero in director Henry Hathaway's The Racers, filmed in France, Italy and Spain. In 1955 she traveled to Italy for the filming of Trapeze, directed by Carol Reed, with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.

    Katy Jurado with Spencer Tracy in the 1954 film Broken Lance

    In 1956 Jurado debuted on Broadway, playing Filomena Marturano with Raf Vallone, which would later be filmed in Italy as Marriage Italian Style with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. Eventually she participated in a series of westerns like Man from Del Rio, with Anthony Quinn, and Dragoon Wells Massacre with Barry Sullivan. She made guest television appearances in a 1957 episode of Playhouse Drama and in a 1959 episode of The Rifleman as gambler Julia Massini (Andueza) in "The Boarding House", written and directed by Sam Peckinpah.

    In 1959 she filmed The Badlanders, with Ernest Borgnine, and worked with Marlon Brando in the film One-Eyed Jacks. The project was originally to be directed by Stanley Kubrick, but, due to irreconcilable differences with Brando, he was replaced by Brando himself. In One-Eyed Jacks, Jurado played the role of Karl Malden's wife, and mother of the young Mexican actress Pina Pellicer.


    With the support of her second husband, Ernest Borgnine, she starred in Dino de Laurentiis Italian productions like Barabbas with Borgnine, Anthony Quinn, Jack Palance and the Italian actors Silvana Mangano and Vittorio Gassman. Her next film in Italy was I braganti Italiani, directed by Mario Camerini. In 1961, Jurado returned to Mexico. She filmed Y dios la llamó Tierra (1961), with Ignacio López Tarso and La Bandida (1962), with María Félix, Pedro Armendáriz and Emilio Fernández. Jurado returned to Hollywood in 1965, with the film Smoky, directed by George Sherman, with Fess Parker. In 1966, she played the mother of George Maharis in A Covenant with Death. That same year she reprised her "High Noon" role in a TV pilot called "The Clock Strikes Noon Again". As her career in the U.S. began to wind down, she was reduced to appearing in the movie Stay Away, Joe (1968), playing the half-Apache stepmother of Elvis Presley.

    In the European cinema Jurado filmed A Man Alone, a co-production between Germany, Spain and United Kingdom, and The Fear maker, a Spanish-Italian production (1968). In 1968, she moved back to Mexico permanently, though she continued to appear in American films as a character actress. In Mexico she starred mainly in a series of Horror movies.

    1970s and 1980s

    In 1972 she starred in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, directed by Sam Peckinpah, with Kris Kristofferson. Jurado received one of her best dramatic roles in the last episode of the Mexican film Fé, Esperanza y Caridad (1973). Directed by Jorge Fons, Jurado was cast as Eulogia, a lower-class woman who suffers a series of bureaucratic abuse to claim the remains of her dead husband. For this role she won her second Silver Ariel Award of the Mexican Cinema. This role earned her the Silver Ariel. Jurado recognized Caridad as her best performance. In 1973 Jurado starred on Broadway again in the Tennessee Williams stage play The Red Devil Battery Sign, with Anthony Quinn and Claire Bloom.

    Other notable film projects of Jurado in the 1970s were films like El elegido (1974), Los albañiles (1975), again directed by Jorge Fons and again with Ignacio Lopez Traso as her film partner; Pantaleón y Las Visitadoras (1976) directed by Mario Vargas Llosa (author of the novel), with the Spanish actor Jose Sacristán and the Cuban rumbera Rosa Carmina; Le recours de la méthode (1977), a French-Mexican co-production; The Children of Sanchez (1978), with Anthony Quinn and Dolores del Rio, and La viuda de Montiel (1979), directed by Miguel Littín, with Geraldine Chaplin. Jurado also reappeared on television frequently in the 1970s. She made guest appearances on such shows as Playhouse Theatre and The Rifleman.

    In 1980 Jurado filmed La Seducción (1980), directed by Arturo Ripstein. Tragedy struck when her son died in an automobile accident in 1981 at the age of 35 while she was filming the movie Barrio de campeones. In 1984, she acted in the film Under the Volcano, directed by John Huston. In the same year she co-starred in the short-lived television series a.k.a. Pablo, a situation comedy series for ABC, with Paul Rodriguez.

    Last years

    In the 1990s Jurado appeared in Mexican Telenovelas. In 1992, she was honored with the Golden Boot Award for her notable contribution to the Western genre. In 1998, she completed a timely Spanish-language film for director Arturo Ripstein called El Evangelio de las Maravillas, about a millennium sect. She won the best supporting Actress silver Ariel for this role. Jurado had a cameo in the film The Hi-Lo Country by the filmmaker Stephen Frears, who called her his "lucky charm" for his first Western.

    In 2002 she made her final film appearance in Un secreto de Esperanza.

    Personal life

    Jurado with Ernest Borgnine in the 1958 film The Badlanders (1958)

    Jurado's first husband was the Mexican actor Victor Velázquez (the stepfather of the Mexican actresses Tere and Lorena Velázquez). With Velázquez she had two Children, Sandra and Victor. Victor died tragically in an accident on a highway near Monterrey, plunging Katy into a deep sadness that she could never overcome, and that led her to abandon her acting career for a few years.

    Early in her career in Hollywood, Jurado had affairs with John Wayne, Budd Boetticher, and Tyrone Power. Marlon Brando was smitten with Jurado after seeing her in High Noon. He was involved at the time with Movita Castaneda and was having a parallel relationship with Rita Moreno. Brando told Joseph L. Mankiewicz that he was attracted to "her enigmatic eyes, black as hell, pointing at you like fiery arrows". They struck up a close friendship while Brando filmed Viva Zapata! in Mexico. Jurado recalled years later in an interview that "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". However, their first date became the beginning of an extended affair that lasted many years and peaked at the time they worked together on One-Eyed Jacks (1960), a film directed by Brando.

    During the filming of the movie Vera Cruz in Cuernavaca, Jurado met the American actor Ernest Borgnine, who became her second husband on December 31, 1959. They appeared together in the film The Badlanders in 1959, and founded the movie production company SANVIO CORP. The marriage ended in 1964, according to Jurado due to Borgnine's violently jealous temperament.

    Jurado's true love was the western novelist Louis L'Amour. She said: "I have love letters that he wrote me until the last day of his life.

    Jurado maintained close friendships with stars such as Anthony Quinn, Burt Lancaster, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Sinatra, Alan Ladd, Sammy Davis Jr., Dolores del Río, John Wayne, the only other female costar from High Noon that she thought had real talent, Eve McVeagh. Mexican director Arturo Ripstein said of Jurado: "[her] face seems formidable, has a tragic dimension exceptional in the Mexican Cinema, and really a splendid actress. She's like Anna Magnani, but flavored tequila and lemon.".

    Jurado claimed to be one of the first people to find the body of Mexican actress Miroslava Stern after her tragic suicide. According to Jurado, the picture that Miroslava had between her hands was of Cantinflas, but artistic manager Fanny Schatz exchanged the photo for one of the Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín.

    In 1998, the Mexican composer Juan Gabriel dedicated a song to Jurado called Que re'chula es Katy (What a beauty is Katy).


    Towards the end of her life, Jurado suffered from heart and lung ailments. She died of kidney failure and pulmonary disease on July 5, 2002, at the age of 78, at her home in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. She was buried in Cuernavaca at the Panteón de la Páz cemetery. She was survived by her daughter.

    Katy Jurado has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7065 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to motion pictures.




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    • García Riera, Emilio. El cine de Katy Jurado. Universidad de Guadalajara (CIEC), Patronato de la Muestra de Cine Mexicano en Guadalajara, A. C. e Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía (IMCINE), 1999. ISBN 968-895-854-9.
    • Agrasánchez Jr., Rogelio (2001). Bellezas del cine mexicano / Beauties of Mexican Cinema. Archivo Fílmico Agrasánchez. ISBN 968-5077-11-8. 
    • Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana, (1999) Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V.
    • Rodriguez, Clara E. (2004). Heroes, Lovers, and Others: The Story of Latinos in Hollywood. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-33513-9. 
    • Porter, Darwin. Brando Unzipped: A revisionist and very private look at America's greatest actor. Blood Moon Productions Ltd, 2006, ISBN 0-9748118-2-3
    • Ruiz, Vicki and Sánchez Korrrol, Virginia. Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia . Indiana University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-253-34681-9
    • Nericcio, William (2007). Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the "Mexican" in America. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-71457-2. 
    • Rivera Viruet, Rafael J.; Resto, Max (2008). Hollywood: Se Habla Español. Terramax Entertainment. ISBN 0-981-66500-4. 
    • Fregoso, Rosa Linda (2010). "2". In Mendible, Myra. From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film and Culture. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-77849-X. 

    External links