20 Hollywood Latino Icons And Their Best Kept Secret Stories

When you think of celebrities from the Golden Age of cinema, it’s not likely you come up with many Old Hollywood Latino icons. Obviously, there’s a reason for that–show business has always been a racist industry, which has made it hard for Latino hopefuls to make their mark. Although this trend has gotten slightly better over time, the struggle Latino actors must endure in order to prove themselves is very real. This is why celebrities like Gina Rodriguez and Eva Longoria are making it their goal for Latino representation in Hollywood to be taken seriously.

Although Latino stars haven’t been as common as their white counterparts, that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. With this in mind, here is a list of Old Hollywood Latinx Icons that took showbiz by storm back in their day. Some of them, like Rita Morena, are ageless icons that everyone knows about. Others stars’ have faded with time. Take a look!

1. Rita Hayworth


Born Margarita Carmen Cansino, Rita’s dark looks were white-washed when she signed onto Columbia Pictures. Additionally, Rita changed her last name from Cansino to Hayworth, dyed her hair red, and underwent electrolysis to raise her hairline. As a result of her transformation, Hayworth was finally able to play the leading-lady roles Columbia had groomed her for. Rita’s most successful role was a man-eating seductress in Guilda, but additionally, she was also a very successful pin-up model. Her infamous picture in Life magazine lounging in bed in a negligee was the most-requested photo for GIs in WWII.

2. Desi Arnaz


Desi Arnaz was born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III in Cuba in 1917. After fleeing the Cuban Revolution to New York, Desi met Lucille Ball on Broadway, where they both worked. Together, they formed a successful husband/wife comedy act. Off the heels of that success, they created the wildly popular TV show, I Love Lucy. The show was ground-breaking at the time for portraying an inter-cultural couple. Unfortunately, Desi and Lucy’s marriage crumbled under the strain of their massive success, and they ended up divorcing in 1960. Desi died in 1986 at the age of 69.

3. Carmen Miranda


Carmen Miranda was born Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha and nicknamed the “Brazilian Bombshell” by the American press. She was famous for her signature hat that was filled with fruit and flowers. Although she was the biggest Brazilian star of the 1940s, her relationship with her homeland became strained. Brazilians felt that she was perpetuating a hollow stereotype of the culture in the US. In response, Carmen Miranda stayed away from Brazil for 14 years. Due to her faltering career, Carmen struggled with alcohol and prescription drugs. Sadly, she died in 1955 when she was only 46.

4. Rita Moreno


The Prima Donna of Old-Hollywood Latinx icons, Rita Morena (born Rosa Dolores Alverío Marcano) is one of the few stars in show business history obtain an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award). Born in Puerto Rico in 1931, Ms. Morena catapulted to fame after her Oscar-winning turn as Anita in West Side Story. Furthermore, Moreno has gone to work in over 150 movies and TV shows and isn’t stopping anytime soon. In fact, you may have seen her as Liliana De La Vega in Jane the Virgin or Lydia Riera in One Day at a Time.

5. Raquel Welch


Another victim of the Hollywood white-washing machine, Raquel Welch was christened as Jo Raquel Tejada in 1940 to a white mother and a Bolivian father. Unfortunately, Raquel struggled with her Latina identity her whole life, and downplayed her roots in pursuit of an acting career. Arguably the most massive sex symbol of the 60s and 70s, Welch later came to accept her heritage, recently saying: “The essence of who I am is a Latina”. She still occasionally acts in movies and TV.

6. Sammy Davis Jr.


Widely known as the only black member of the infamous “Rat Pack”, Sammy Davis Jr. was born to an Afro-Cuban mother in Harlem. After establishing success as a singer, dancer, and impressionist, Sammy became good friends with Frank Sinatra. Due to Frank’s stamp of approval, Davis Jr. a star fully accepted by white America. At the peak of his fame, Sammy insisted that his mother was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to protect his album sales from the Anti-Cuban backlash of the time. Due to his friendships and relationships to white people, Sammy struggled to connect to his black and Latinx roots. He died in 1990 at the age of 64.

7. Lynda Carter


The original Wonder Woman was born in Arizona to Colby Carter and Juanita Cordova. Although Colby was of English and Irish descent, Juanita’s family hailed from Chihuahua, Mexico. After winning the title of Miss World USA, Linda traveled to New York to pursue a career in show business. She soon landed the role of Wonder Woman on ABC, and the rest is history. Now 67, Carter primarily focuses on her music career. Calling herself the “granddaughter of illegal immigrants”, she is an outspoken supporter of immigration reform.

8. Dolores Del Rio


María de los Dolores Asúnsolo y López-Negrete was the most successful “crossover” star from Latin America to the US of her time. Born into a wealthy family in Durango, Mexico in 1904, she decided to pursue a career in film after meeting a famous filmmaker at a party. Widely thought of as one of the most beautiful faces in the industry, she was renowned for playing “Latina Lovers”. In addition to being a celebrated actress, Del Rio was also an activist and longtime friends with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Consequently, Dolores dedicated the latter part of her life to humanitarian efforts in Mexico.

9. Lupe Velez


Born in Mexico as María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez, Lupe began her show business career as a burlesque dancer. Soon enough, important Hollywood players became aware of her and began to offer her roles in a number of mainstream movies. She hit the peak of her career starring in the “Mexican Spitfire” film franchise (named after her nickname). She was renowned for her wild personality and hard-partying ways. As a result, she died in 1944 at the age of 36 from a suicidal drug overdose.

10. John Gavin


Born Juan Vincent Apablasa Jr., John’s family hailed from Mexico, Chile, and Spain. In his youth, he was never interested in acting, choosing instead to attend Stanford and major in Latin American History. However, Universal Studios convinced John to sign a contract with them, promising to make him into the next Rock Hudson. He starred in a slew of successful movies like Spartacus and Psycho, but his real passion was government. Due to both his skills and his background, President Ronald Reagan appointed him the US Ambassador to Mexico, where he stayed until 1986. He died in February of 2018.

11. Maria Montez


María África Gracia Vidal was in the Dominican Republic in 1912. Dubbed the “Queen of Technicolor” by the Hollywood press, Maria was renowned for her performances in action-adventure films. She was discovered by a talent scout at 28 years old while visiting New York City. Universal Studios was impressed enough with her beauty that they decided to mold her after Rita Hayworth as their very own “Latin Seductress”. Finally, tired of playing the same one-dimensional “exotic” characters, Maria Montez left Universal in 1947 to start her own (unsuccessful) production company. She died under mysterious circumstances, drowning in her bathtub from an apparent heart attack at the young age of 39.

12. Anthony Quinn


Born in Mexico as Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca, Quinn grew up in Texas where he had dreams of becoming a professional boxer. After moving to LA, he caught the acting bug and spent the first half of his career playing exotic villains, but never the leading role. Eventually, he became a bonafide star when he won an Oscar for his performance in Viva Zapata! Most importantly, Quinn was the first Mexican-American Actor to win an Academy Award. He continued to work steadily into old age, and died in 2001 at 86.

13. Elsa Cardenas


Born in Tijuana, Mexico, Elsa Cardenas is a prolific actress that has starred in over 100 movies during the course of her career. She made her film debut in Giant, playing a young Mexican bride who faces discrimination from her husband’s white family. She later caught the eye of Elvis Presley whom she co-starred with in Fun In Acapulco. Elvis and Elsa briefly dated before he went on to marry Priscilla Presley. Cardenas still acts occasionally, most recently on the telenovela Lo imperdonable.

14. Olga San Juan


In 1927, Olga San Juan was born in Brooklyn to parents of Puerto Puerto Rican descent who returned to the island with Olga when was 3 years old. Nicknamed the “Puerto-Rican Pepperpot”, Olga spent her youth training as a dancer, at the encouragement of her mother. Although she appeared in blockbusters such as Blue Skies, Olga never achieved the same fame as her peers due to her strong Spanish accent that she couldn’t shake. For that reason, she retired early from acting, choosing instead to focus raising her family. She died at the ripe old age of 81 in Los Angeles.

15. Gilbert Roland


Born Luis Antonio Dámaso de Alonso in Chihuahua, Mexico, Gilbert Roland initially had dreams of becoming a bullfighter like his father. But Hollywood had different plans for him. After doing some background work, Luis changed his last name from “de Alonso” to “Roland”, which gave him the opportunity to play both white and Latino rolls on screen. A successful actor, Roland was nominated for multiple Golden Globes and received his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. He died in 1994 at the age of 88.

16. Andrea Palma


Andrea Palma was born Guadalupe Bracho Pérez-Gavilán in Mexico in 1903. Although she started off her career as a fashion designer and shop owner, she soon became interested in acting and toured the US in a travelling theater troupe. When she appeared as Rosario in La Mujer del Puerto, she catapulted to fame and became the most in-demand actress of Mexican cinema. Her career as a Mexican actress was groundbreaking and she continued to work on both stage and screen well into old age. She died in 1987 at the age of 84.

17. Linda Christian


Linda Christian was born Blanca Rosa Welter in Tampico, Mexico. At a young age, she became the lover of the screen legend, Errol Flynn, who encouraged her to change her name to something less exotic and pursue an acting career. She quickly found success in musicals and adventure films, but her real claim-to-fame was her personal life. Linda had various marriages and love affairs that kept the tabloids talking around the clock. She died in 2011 at the age of 87.

18. Ramon Novarro


Ramon was born José Ramón Gil Samaniego to influential Mexican parents. After moving to Los Angeles to flee the Mexican Revolution, Novarro pursued a career in acting where he appeared in silent films in a few minor rolls. After changing his last name to “Novarro”, his career began to take off and he quickly gained the status of a sex symbol. At the peak of his career, he was making $100,000 per movie–a gigantic sum for the time. A closeted gay man, Ramon struggled with his sexuality and relied primarily on sex workers to fulfill his desires. In 1968, he was murdered in his home when a rendezvous with two escorts turned violent.

19. Anita Page


Anita Page, born Anita Evelyn Pomares in New York to Salvadoran parents, was a silent film superstar in the 20s and 30s. At the height of her fame, she was receiving more fan mail than any other female star of the time. Anita changed her last name to “Page” in order to play roles outside of the “Latina Lover” stereotype. Surprisingly, Anita announced her announced her early retirement from the screen at the tender age of 23. She later revealed that she left show business due to constant sexual harassment from an MGM executive. She died in 2008 at the age of 98.

20. Katy Jurado


Katy Jurado, aka María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García, began her acting career in Mexican cinema as a teenager, where she became successful in her own right. However, her career really took off when she transitioned to American cinema. Notably, Jurado specialized in Hollywood Westerns, and even became the first Latina ever nominated for an Oscar for her work in Broken Lance. Later on, she continued to work in both Mexican and American cinema until her death in 2002.

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Producer Of Selena Show On Netflix Discloses New Details On Another Selena-Inspired Project


Producer Of Selena Show On Netflix Discloses New Details On Another Selena-Inspired Project

When news broke earlier this year that Netflix would be releasing a show about Selena Quintanilla, well, to put it mildly, people lost their minds. The demand for Selena content — whether through music, fashion, or makeup — is exceptionally high. So it makes sense that a streaming service would want to release something by the late Tejano singer.

The issue remains that the Quintanilla family are incredibly protective of their daughter’s image, music — and overall brand. So, when Netflix secured a deal about Selena and her family, her fans rejoiced.

ABC also said they were interested in a TV-scripted project, inspired by the life of Selena, which also got the seal of approval by her family. Unfortunately, the network ended up turning it down.

We now have more information from the producer responsible for the two Quintanilla family-backed projects.

@vivaestas /Instagram

Jaime Davila runs Campanario Entertainment — a North American media company — and said that despite ABC turning down the Selena-inspired show he’s still developing it.

Davila, who’s also from South Texas just like Selena, understands the importance of getting a story like this right.

@selenaquintanilla46 / Instagram

“I don’t take this lightly…it’s a big deal and I’m excited to really do it justice,” Davila told Deadline. “It’s really taking the time to explore what it was like to be a Mexican American family in the ’80s and ’90s, trying to make it. It’s gonna be great family musical drama.”

Davila had previously said that he was working very closely with Selena’s sister, Suzette, on this show, inspired by the musical legacy of Selena Quintanilla.

@quintanillaperez_1995 / Instagram

“We are excited to come on board as producers on an ABC music driven, Latino family drama that celebrates Selena’s musical legacy with a lead character whose music and career is inspired by Selena,” Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga said in a statement provided to us back in January.

Davila said that while ABC is no longer in the picture, he and Suzette are continuing to collaborate. We’re confident that another network would want to pick this show up asap.

While ABC is no longer in the picture, he and Suzette are continuing to collaborate. We’re confident that another network would want to pick this show up asap.

Back in January, we were informed via a press release that writer Miguel Nolla (who’s worked on “Scandal”) would be serving as writer and co-executive producer. We were also told that the show would focus on “Alex Guerra, a chart-topping, award-winning pop star who has been estranged from her family for five years.” Guerra “tries to pick up the pieces when a crisis forces her to return home. Alex finds herself back in Texas, juggling a love triangle, the demands of her career and the dark secrets of the family that she now desperately wants to win back.”

It’s a great concept, and now we’re just left wondering if that will still be the plotline or if the entire thing will be reorganized. Either way, we’d love to see this Latino representation on TV.

Fans of Selena have done well to honor and pay tribute to Selena in recent weeks as we approach the anniversary of her death.

Tributes to the reina de cumbia have been on full display this month. Earlier this week Dallas-based artists Jeremy Biggers and Hatziel Flores created a ‘Baila esta Cumbia’ mural in honor of the singer. fortunately after the two never recieved permiosion or permits from the city to paint the mural on a building built in 1884. Fortunately the city has offered to have the two artists paint the image on a

Earlier this month, country music star Kacey Musgraves paid tribute to the classic moment during her own performance at the same venue. Musgraves tribute came as part of the multi-day 2019 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo which rapper Cardi B is also set to perform.

The six-time Grammy Award winner’s reverent rendition of the beloved Selena song couldn’t have been performed on a more appropriate day. In keeping with Selena’s performance at the Houston Astrodome, which was song 24 years to the day, Musgraves entered the dome on a horse while wearing a white jumpsuit.

Soon after, Selena’s sister, Suzette Quintanilla, revealed that she had seen Musgraves’ performance and almost cried.

“Awww this makes me wanna shed a tear! Take me back. A Big Big Thank you to Kacey Musgraves for the love at the Houston Rodeo tonite with that Selena y Los Dinos Jam!” she said on Instagram.

Camila Cabello also jumped on the honor-Selena-roll At Houston Rodeo earlier this week.


The Cuban singer showed up in full rodeo attire on Tuesday night, which reminded us a ton of Cardi B’s cowboy outfit that she wore in Houston. However, the “Havana” singer went all black with rhinestones with her outfit. It is definitely giving us the same vibes as Selena’s iconic black and bedazzled bustier that we all remember all these years later.

She looked stunning in her cowboy chaps. Are we sure she isn’t a true Texan?


“Thank you, Houston Rodeo!” Cabello wrote on social media. “I went up there and was so nervous, every time I saw a yellow NBTS hoodie I was so relieved lmao, thank you for always making me feel supported and loved, I love you guys so much!!!!!! PS, how can I sign up to be a cowgirl.”

It’s been interesting to see which song an artist covers and whether they sing in Spanish or English. Cabello did a rendition of Selena’s first English crossover song “Dreaming Of You.” Definitely a good choice to go with a fan favorite that is also one of the most iconic songs of all time.

Here’s Cabello’s cover of Selena’s “Dreaming Of You.”

YouTube/Camila Cabello

Cabello wrote: “55,001 souls dreaming of Selena last night at the Houston rodeo. We love you, Selena ????” Yes, we do. It seems like most of the people at Cabello’s concert felt the same way. Basically, if you are in Texas right now, check out the artist at Houston Rodeo because chances are you will get a great Selena tribute out of the deal. So worth it.

Obviously the Texas fans were here for it because, well, anything for Selenas.

We wish we could have been there to experience the magic. Cabello is Cuban-Mexican-American and it is clear that Selena is one of her inspirations. The way she was able to capture the emotion of the song and give everyone a tearful moment remembering the queen of our childhoods and her iconic music.

READ: Netflix Just Announced That They Are Launching A New Series Based On Selena Quintanilla And Everyone Is Muy Excited

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20 Times Rita Moreno Was A Queen We Don’t Deserve


20 Times Rita Moreno Was A Queen We Don’t Deserve

In this scary and confusing life, there are only a few things we know for sure. One of these things is that Puerto-Rican born legendary actress Rita Moreno is a national treasure who continues to give us life in the year of our Lord two-thousand and nineteen.

We need no excuse to celebrate the incredible Rita Moreno, and because we love her so much, we’ve compiled a list of 20 times (out of many) that Moreno was the queen we don’t deserve. Long live the queen!

1.When she gave Trump the middle finger on national television

Jimmy Kimmel Live via Youtube

Recently, Moreno The Queen herself paid a visit to Jimmy Kimmel live and recounted the story of the first time she met Donald Trump. When finishing up the story, she playfully told President Trump, “I’ve got a finger for ya,” and flipped off the camera. She definitely hasn’t lost her spunk!

2. When she insisted her character on “One Day At a Time” Be Written As a Sexual Being


When talking about her latest role as abuelita Lydia Riera in Netflix’s “One Day at a Time”, Moreno revealed: “[B]efore there was even a script, I said [to the writers]: I’d like her to be sexual. Because you don’t see that. Once people turn a certain age, that gets completely ignored by writers, and it’s a shame”.

3. When she guest-starred on Jane the Virgin

Tumblr via janethevirgin-gifs

Fans of “Jane the Virgin” were delighted when it was announced that Moreno was cast as Rogelia de La Vega’s controlling stage mother, Liliana de La Vega. As for her performance, she didn’t disappoint: Moreno served up enough outrageous diva moments to keep us rolling on the floor.

4. When She Won an Oscar…


The award that started it all! Latinas everywhere felt truly recognized when Moreno won the (much-deserved) Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her incredible work as Anita in “West Side Story.”

5. …When She Won a Grammy…

User shamusmcginty via Reddit

Moreno continued her awards streak by winning a Grammy Award in 1972 for Best Children’s Album. The album was compilation of the songs from the hit children’s show, “The Electric Company”.

6. …When She Won a Tony…

Warner Archive Instant via Youtube

Moreno continued to be the Latina Queen we don’t deserve by winning a Tony Award in 1975 for Best Lead Actress in a play for the Broadway production of “The Ritz”.

7. …And When She Won an Emmy

Television Academy via Youtube

When she won an Emmy for hilarious work on “The Muppet Show” in 1977, the pure shock on Moreno’s face was probably due to the fact that she realized she was now cemented in the canon of history. It was the final award she needed to officially become “EGOT” status.

8. When she re-wore the gown she wore to the 1962 Oscars in 2018


In 2018, Moreno was kind enough to re-wear the original dress she wore to the Oscars in 1962—the year she took home the Gold Statue. She arguably worked that dress better at 86 than she did when she was a young ingenue.

9. When she blessed us with that whole performance in “West Side Story”

Tumblr via user nataliedormers

Think about it: Moreno didn’t have to go that hard for us. But, she did. She did.

10. When she dissed the problematic roles she was forced to play in her early career


Before she had enough industry clout to play more nuanced roles, Moreno was only offered parts that she later dubbed “dusky maiden” roles. Notably, she was forced to wear yellow-face in “The King and I” in the role of “Tutpim”–one of the King of Siam’s numerous wives. Later, Moreno had a few choice words to say about this time in her career: “I hated the dark makeup, being barefoot—all of it”.

11. Her controversial 1954 Life magazine cover


Before she hit the big time, Moreno was chosen as the cover girl for a particularly sexy issue of “Life” magazine where she was also featured in a multi-page spread. The issue got the attention of much of Hollywood, possibly due to the front page headline, which read: “Rita Moreno: An Actress’s Catalog of Sex and Innocence”.

12. When she kept it real in her tell-all memoir


Moreno shocked the public when she revealed intimate details of her passionate affair with legendary actor Marlon Brando in her 2013 autobiography, “Rita Moreno: A Memoir”. Of Brando, Moreno said: “To say that he was a great lover would be gravely understating what he did not only to my body, but for my soul. Every aspect of being with Marlon was thrilling, because he was more engaged in the world than anyone else I’d ever known”.

13. When She Received the Kennedy Center Honors Award

The Kennedy Center via Youtube

If you haven’t yet seen the video of Gina Rodriguez’s heartfelt tribute to Moreno during her Kennedy Center Honors Award ceremony, we highly suggest you take a look. Rodriguez’s tribute is extremely touching, as is Moreno’s emotional response.

14. She constantly keeps it hip

rita-moreno_film Tumblr

Never one to lose her sense of humor, Moreno made a hilarious entrance during the ___ commencement ceremony of The Berklee College of Music. We love how she’s not afraid to make fun of herself.

15. When she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom

The U.S. National Archives

In 2004, Moreno received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for “helping shape our nation’s cultural and artistic heritage”. It’s reasons like these why we love Moreno: her career has made us much impact on the broader US culture as it has on America’s Latinx community.

16. When she narrated the audiobook version of Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s memoir


Justice Sonya Sotomayor personally asked fellow Puerto-Rican Rita Moreno to read the audio version of her memoir, “My Beloved World”. Fitting, considering that Moreno “burst into tears” when she first heard the news that Sotomayor would be the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.

17. When she shared her philosophy on dealing with haters


In a Vulture interview that focused on her “One Day at a Time” success, Moreno dispensed a kernel of precious advice: “You don’t die if someone doesn’t like you…A woman in [group therapy] didn’t like me…and she just spewed utter dislike of me…I found out that you don’t die from being disliked. For me, that’s very important”.

18. When she went makeup-less to film an emotional scene


In the same interview, Moreno touched on the only time she’s ever been makeup-less on camera, in a touching scene in “One Day at a Time”. “I was actually very happy to do it,” she explained. “Maybe it’s my age, but I know I look good”. Yaasss Queen!

19. When she shared her philosophy on aging

Tumblr via omgthatdress

“People tell me I look good these days,” Moreno said recently. “I look good because I feel good… It’s all about attitude”. We couldn’t agree more!

20. When she expressed unabashed joy at receiving the SAG-AFTRA Lifetime Achievement Award

Tumblr via User Carlithiel

One of the things we love so much about Moreno, is that she never seems to take her career for granted, and to that end, has never has come off as jaded by her success. A perfect example of this is when she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from SAG-AFTRA and gushed that she was “so bloody happy”. We love you, Rita!

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