Friday, 10 May 2013

Smoking, I wait - no longer

Submerged by the acres of media coverage - in the UK at least - of the death of Baroness Thatcher last month was another sad piece of news about a passing that happened on the same day (8th April).

I just found out that Dolores Delargo Towers regular, the fabulous, the extravagant, possibly the most outrageous of our Patron Saints [Iberian chapter], Señorita Sara Montiel is dead. I am very sad.

On searching for tributes, I found this rather fabulous piece by Anna Maria O'Donovan on the Iberosphere news site, written on 12th April:
A woman of international stature passed from the scene this week. Admired at home and abroad, she touched the lives of millions, a champion of personal freedom who nonetheless came to terms with dictatorship, her instincts were conservative but her choices were often daring – Sara Montiel, the venerable icon of stage and screen, died at her home in Madrid on Monday at the age of 85.

Montiel personified – particularly in her later chat-show-celebrity-magazine incarnation – the superficiality of pop culture, yet that very superficiality may have been the key not only to her commercial success but to her importance to Spanish society, particularly in the 1960s. Montiel articulated a kitsch but optimistic and obliquely subversive descant to the sombre music of official Spain.

The title of the memoir she published in 2000, To Live Is a Pleasure, sums up the commendably intrepid and upbeat philosophy of a woman born without many advantages in a country plagued by poverty, intolerance and violent class division. Sara and Sex, her second book, published at the age of 75, testifies to a refreshingly frank engagement with reality.

Montiel shot to fame first in Mexico where she made hugely popular films in the early 1950s, and then in Hollywood, acting opposite Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster, among others, before returning to Spain to shoot the runaway success, El Último Cuplé in 1957, which propelled her to domestic superstardom.

She remained resolutely mainstream even though her private life at the height of her fame was at odds with the official morality of the day. Some might dismiss this as a dismal and inevitable example of the hypocrisy that riddled a ferociously puritanical society. Others would argue, however, that Montiel’s conformity was more interestingly anarchic.

With a seductive raising of the eyebrows she alluded, confidently if conspiratorially, to that vast undercurrent of everyday experience that wasn’t supposed to exist.
She was one of our favourite sources of camp entertainment, and will be sadly missed...

And I make no excuses to play once again my favourite of hers (with Fangoria)! How camp?

RIP, Saritísima Sara Montiel (10th March 1928 – 8th April 2013)

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