Katy Jurado

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Katy Jurado
Jurado in the film San Antone (1953)
Born María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García
(1924-01-16)January 16, 1924
Guadalajara, Mexico
Died July 5, 2002(2002-07-05) (aged 78)
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Occupation Actress
Years active 1943–2002
Spouse(s) Víctor Velázquez (1939-1943)(divorced) 2 children
Ernest Borgnine (1959–63) (divorced)
Children Victor Hugo Velázquez (d. 1981)

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

Jurado began her acting career in Mexico in 1943. In the 1940s, during the beginning of the called Golden Age of Mexican cinema, Jurado achieved a great popularity, playing villainous "femme fatale" characters. In 1951 she was discovered in Mexico by the filmmaker Budd Boetticher and she films The Bullfighter & the Lady, her first film in Hollywood. Her quality as an actress and her exotic beauty, attracted the attention of Hollywood producers. Since then, she became in a regular actress 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. 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.

Jurado made seventy-one films during her career. Like many Latin actors, she was typecast to play ethnic roles in American films.[1] By contrast, she had a greater variety of roles in Mexican films; sometimes she also sang and danced. In her long and successful career, she also dabbled in theater and television and remained practically in force until her death.

Jurado was one of several Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Others are Dolores del Río, Lupe Vélez and Salma Hayek.[2]


Early life

Katy Jurado was born María Cristina Jurado García[3] on January 16, 1924, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.[4] 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. Her maternal and paternal families were wealthy; six generations earlier, they had owned much of the land that became the state of Texas.[5] 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.

She studied journalism. In 1942 she was discovered by the Mexican filmmaker Emilio Fernández. Emilio Fernández wanted to cast her in his first film (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.[1] Together, they had a son and a daughter, Víctor Hugo and Sandra.[1] The marriage ended in divorce in 1943.


Jurado in a promotional picture of (1953)

Jurado began acting in Mexican films in 1943, making her debut in the film No matarás, directed by Chano Urueta and starring Emilio Tuero and Carmen Montejo. In the film, Jurado made her first villain and femme fatale character of her career. 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 (1940s). 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), film created as a vehicle for the Puerto Rican actress and dancer Mapy Cortés. 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), a musical film starred by the Cuban rumbera María Antonieta Pons; Rosa del Caribe (1945), opposite Maria Elena Marqués; Soltera y con gemelos and La viuda celosa (1945), vehicles for the Argentinean singer Amanda Ledesma; Guadalajara pues and El último chinaco (1946), both with the popular ranchero star Luis aguilar, among others. In 1947 Jurado appeared in Hay lugar para ... dos, the sequel to the hit film ¡Esquina bajan! (1946), starring the popular Mexican actor 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).


Jurado in High Noon (1952)

In addition to acting, Jurado worked as a movie columnist, radio reporter and bullfight critic to support her family.[6] She was on assignment when the filmmaker Budd Boetticher and actor John Wayne spotted her at a bullfight.[5] 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. At that time she had very limited English language skills, and memorized and delivered her lines phonetically.[5] 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 (played by Gary Cooper), in one of the most memorable films of the era.[5] She earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and gained widespread notice in the American movie industry.[1]

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 Silver Ariel Award (The Mexican Academy Award) as Best Supporting Actress.[5] 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 acting in Arrowhead with Charlton Heston and Jack Palance, playing an evil Comanche woman, the love-interest of Heston's character.

In 1954 Jurado was named to replace her compatriot, 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.[1] 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.[7] 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.[8]

In 1954 Jurado made her first film in Europe, appearing with Kirk Douglas and Cesar Romero in the Henry Hathaway's film 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. Eventually she participated in a series of westerns like Man from Del Rio, opposite the also Mexican actor 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 Alan Ladd, and worked with Marlon Brando in the film One-Eyed Jacks. In the film, Jurado played the role of Karl Malden's wife, and mother of the young Mexican actress Pina Pellicer.[9]


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, and I braganti Italiani, directed by Mario Camerini, again with Borgnine and Gassman. In 1961, Jurado returned to Mexico. She filmed Y dios la llamó Tierra (1961), with Ignacio López Tarso and La Bandida (1962), with the Mexican cinema superstars 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.[1]

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, where she starred mainly in the Horror movie La mujer del carnicero (1969).

1970s and 1980s

In 1972 she starred in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, directed by Sam Peckinpah, played the role of the wife of the actor Slim Pickens. 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. Jurado recognized Caridad as her best performance.[10] In 1973 Jurado starred on Broadway again in the Tennessee Williams stage play The Red Devil Battery Sign, with Anthony Quinn and Claire Bloom.[2]

In 1974 Jurado filmed the American film Once Upon a Scoundrel (1974), opposite the American comedian Zero Mostel. During the rest of the decade Jurado participates in several films of complaint and social criticism in Mexico. In 1974 she filmed El Elegido (1974), as sort of biblical drama. In 1975 she participates in Los albañiles (1975), again directed by Jorge Fons and again with Ignacio Lopez Traso as her film partner. The film was awarded with the Golden Bear of the Berlinale 1975. In 1976 Jurado replaces the Cuban rumbera Rosa Carmina in the role of Chuchupe in the film Pantaleón y Las Visitadoras (1976) directed by Mario Vargas Llosa (author of the novel). In 1977 she worked for first time with the Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littin in the Mexica-French production Le recours de la méthode (1977). In 1978 she played a small role in the film The Children of Sanchez (1978), opposite Anthony Quinn and Dolores del Rio. In 1979 she worked again with Littin in the film La viuda de Montiel (1979), opposite 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 two 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.[1] 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.[11]

In 2002 she made her final film appearance in Un secreto de Esperanza. The film was released posthumously after the Jurado's death.

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".[6] 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".[6] 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.[6]

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.[12]

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.[13] 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.".[14]

Jurado claimed to have been 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.[15]

In 1998, the Mexican composer Juan Gabriel dedicated a song to Jurado called Que re'chula es Katy (What a beauty is Katy).[16]


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.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Ruiz & Sánchez Korrol. Latinas in the United States, p.358
  2. 2.0 2.1 Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana. Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V. 1999. p. 19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/06/arts/katy-jurado-78-mexican-star-who-appeared-in-high-noon.html
  4. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Roríguez, Clara. Heroes, Lovers, and Others, p.117
  5. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Porter, Darwin. Brando Unzipped, p.394
  6. Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana. Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V. 1999. p. 30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana. Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V. 1999. pp. 58–59.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana. Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V. 1999. p. 60.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana. Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V. 1999. pp. 33, 52.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. García Riera (1999), p. 33
  11. Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana. Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V. 1999. p. 32.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. García Riera, Emilio (1999). 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. ISBN 968-895-854-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. García Riera (1999), p. 114
  14. Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana. Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V. 1999. p. 100.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Revista Somos: Katy Jurado:Estrella de Hollywood orgullosamente mexicana. Editorial Televisa S.A de C.V. 1999. p. 24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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External links