Filled Under: Maria Montez
“When I look at myself, I am so beautiful I scream with joy!”
~ Maria Montez after viewing herself in Arabian Nights (1942).
María Montez, born Maria Africa Antonia Gracia Vidal de Santo Silas on June 6, 1912 in Barahona, Dominican Republic, was a motion picture actress who gained fame and popularity in the 1940s as an exotic beauty starring in a series of filmed-in-Technicolor costume adventure films. Her screen image was that of a hot-blooded Latin seductress, dressed in fanciful costumes and sparkling jewels. She became so identified with these adventure epics that she became known as “The Queen of Technicolor.” She was also nicknamed “The Caribbean Cyclone”. Over her career, Montez appeared in 26 films, 21 of which were made in North America and five in Europe. Montez’s beauty made her the centerpiece of Universal’s Technicolor costume adventures, notably the six in which she was teamed with Jon Hall; “Arabian Nights” (1942), “White Savage” (1943), “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” (1944), “Cobra Woman” (1944), “Gypsy Wildcat” (1944), and “Sudan” (1945). She also appeared in the Technicolor western “Pirates of Monterey” (1947) with Rod Cameron and the sepia-toned swashbuckler “The Exile” (1948), starring opposite Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
While working in Hollywood, she met and married French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont, who had to leave a few days after their wedding to serve in the Free French Forces fighting against Nazi Germany in the European Theatre of World War II. At the end of World War II, the couple had a daughter, Maria Christina (also known as Tina Aumont), born in Hollywood in 1946. They then moved to a home in Suresnes, Île-de-France in the western suburb of Paris under the French Fourth Republic. There, Montez appeared in several films and a play written by her husband. She also wrote three books, two of which were published, as well as penning a number of poems.
Maria Montez died in Suresnes, France on September 7, 1951 at the age of 39, after apparently suffering a heart attack and drowning in her bath. She was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris where her tombstone displays her theatrical year of birth, 1918.