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Katy Jurado






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Katy Jurado

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Barbara Stanwyck

Career in Hollywood

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, Jurado had very limited English language skills. She memorized and delivered her lines phonetically.

Despite this handicap, her strong performance brought her to the attention of Hollywood producer Stanley Kramer. Kramer 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. Jurado 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 for Best Supporting Actress and gained widespread notice in the American movie industry.

Only two other Mexican actresses have been nominated since then: Salma Hayek as Best Actress in 2002 for Frida and Adriana Barraza as Best Supporting Actress in 2006 for Babel. In 1954 Jurado replaced Dolores del Río in the film Broken Lance for which she received an Academy Award nomination, playing Spencer Tracy's Comanche wife and the mother of Robert Wagner. Despite her notable Hollywood success in the early 1950s, Jurado continued with some performances in Mexico. In 1953 she starred in the Luis Buñuel's box-office success El Bruto, for which she received an Ariel Award.

The same year she starred in Arrowhead with Charlton Heston and Jack Palance, playing a Comanche. In a 1955 interview with Louella Parsons, Jurado commented on the mostly Indian roles she was given: " I don't mind dramatic roles. I love to act, any character at all. But just once I would like to be my Mexican self in an American motion picture". In 1956, she had a supporting role in Trapeze. Later, she appeared in The Racers, Trial. On the set of The Badlanders, she met her costar Ernest Borgnine, who became her second husband on December 31, 1959.

The couple founded the movie production company SANVIO CORP. With her husband's support, she starred in Dino de Laurentis Italian productions like Barabbas and I braganti italiani. However her tumultuous marriage with Borgnine ended in divorce in 1963. He called her "beautiful, but a tiger". In 1958 she starred in Broadway in the Tennessee Williams play The Red Devil Battery Sign, with Anthony Quinn and Claire Bloom. She had a torrid affair with the actor Marlon Brando. Brando, who was involved at the time with Movita Castaneda and was having a parallel relationship with Rita Moreno, was smitten with Katy Jurado after seeing her in High Noon.

He told Joseph L. Mankiewicz that he was attracted to "her enigmatic eyes, black as hell, pointing at you like fiery arrows". Katy 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. "Marlon asked me to marry many times, but for me my children were first", she said. "Our friendship pact was sealed with an Indian ritual for the rest of our lives." She also maintained a close friendship with stars like Anthony Quinn, Burt Lancaster, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Sinatra, Dolores del Río, John Wayne and many others. Early in her career in Hollywood, she had an affair with John Wayne; she later claimed that he wanted to marry her.

Last years

As her career in the U.S. began to wind down, she was reduced to appearing in the movies Smoky (1966) with Fess Parker and Stay Away, Joe (1968), playing the half-Apache mother of Elvis Presley. In 1966 she reprised her "Helen Ramirez" role from High Noon (1952) in a High Noon TV pilot called The Clock Strikes Noon Again which co-starred Peter Fonda as the son of Will Kane. In 1968, Jurado became depressed and attempted suicide by ingesting sleeping pills. She had left a suicide note for her family and was discovered in time to save her life. After her suicide attempt, she moved back to Mexico permanently, though she continued to appear in American films as a character actress. She revived both her personal and professional lives and, in 1972, married again, on a private island she owned off the coast of southern Mexico. During this period she appeared in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1972).

Jurado again appeared on television and in films during the 1970s. Tragedy stuck when her son died in an automobile accident in 1981 at the age of 35. In the following years she worked on television both in The United States and in Mexico. She did guest appearances on Playhouse Drama and The Rifleman. She also co-starred in the short-lived television series a.k.a. Pablo in 1984, a situation comedy series for ABC, with Paul Rodriguez.

In 1984, she acted in the Mexican-American production Under the Volcano, directed by John Huston. In 1985, Jurado was named film promotion commissioner for the Mexican state of Morelos. In that position, she issued filming permits, found locations for movies, and arranged accommodations for film crews. The position provided her with the opportunity to arrange and develop national and international motion pictures in her beloved Mexico. Her last American film appearance was in Stephen Frears's Western The Hi-Lo Country, capping a half-century-long American movie career. In 1992 Jurado was honored with the Golden Boot Award for her notable contribution to the western movies.

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. In 2002 she appeared in her last movie Un secreto de Esperanza.Towards the end of her life, she 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, Mexico, at the Panteón de la Páz cemetery. She was survived by her daughter.


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