Filled Under: Conchita Montenegro
Conchita Montenegro, born in San Sebastian, Spain on September 11, 1912 was a Spanish model, dancer, stage and screen actress. Educated in a convent in Madrid, Spain, the beautiful Montenegro had brown eyes, wavy black hair, and an olive complexion. She first worked professionally as a model for the famous painter Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta. During her childhood she learned classical and Spanish dance and was credited with revolutionizing the presentation of Spanish dances. Montenegro turned from dancing to dramatic acting and starred in numerous productions. She attained theatrical fame in Hollywood, France, and Germany by the time she was thirteen years old. At the age of sixteen, she starred in the French film “La Femme et le Pantin” (1928), directed by Jacques de Baroncelli. In 1930 Montenegro signed a contract with MGM. She was seventeen years old and could not speak a word of English. Montenegro learned enough English in three months to play the leading female part in “Never the Twain Shall Meet” (1931), with Leslie Howard, at the age of eighteen. Before starring in “Never The Twain Shall Meet”, Montenegro was cast in Spanish versions of MGM movies, among them “Call of the Flesh” (1930) with Ramon Novarro and “Way for a Sailor” (1930) with Jose Crespo. Montenegro’s next role was as a Spanish dancer in “Strangers May Kiss” (1931) starring Norma Shearer. By mid-1931, Montenegro had left MGM and signed with Fox Film Corporation. With Fox she starred in both Spanish and English language motion pictures. One of her most popular roles was in “The Cisco Kid” (1931). Playing Carmencita, Montenegro had the primary female role and was the main source of contention between the Cisco Kid (Warner Baxter) and Sergeant Mickey Dunn (Edmund Lowe).
Montenegro was sometimes featured in stage shows which coincided with the screening of film premieres. One such instance was the premiere of “A Passport To Hell”, which starred Elissa Landi. The movie debuted at the Loew’s Kings Theater in August 1932 and Montenegro provided the vaudeville entertainment beforehand. On another occasion she teamed with Teddy Joyce in the opening stage show for the opening of “The Kennel Murder Case” (1933) at the Warner Brothers Hollywood Theater. At another premiere, together with Will Rogers, Montenegro performed an Adagio for Strings number prior to the premiere of “Handy Andy” (1934). Her movie career in America ended 1940 when she performed the leading female part in Eternal Melodies (1940). After filming several movies in Spain, the last one “Lola Montes” in 1944, she retired forever from the cinema, refusing any interview or presence in the media, even to honor her.
Montenegro applied for naturalization papers in Chicago, Illinois on March 16, 1932. She married a Brazilian actor, Raoul Roulien, in Paris, France, on September 19, 1935. The couple toured South America and produced a motion picture called Jangada (1936). A short time later they were divorced. In 1944, Montenegro married the Spanish diplomat Ricardo Giménez Arnau, a senior member of the far right Falangist party and ambassador to the Holy See.
Conchita Montenegro died April 22, 2007, at age 94, in Madrid, Spain. She donated her body to medical science.