01 · 16 · 20

Katy Jurado, an actress who broke schemes

By: Aranza Flores @Alvayeah

The irreverent and enormously talented Mexican actress Katy Jurado, who played villains and femmes fatales, was the first Latin American woman to be nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Jurado had highly successful careers in Mexico, Hollywood, and on Broadway. She won five Ariel Awards and received several Golden Globe nominations. Best known for her roles in Mexican films, the actress played across a wide range of cinematic genres, possessing an explosive combination of beauty and raw talent.

Katy Jurado, una actriz que rompió esquemas

Katy Jurado

Born on the 16th January, 1924 into a wealthy family, María Cristina Jurado García studied at a religious school run by nuns. Her family were acquainted with important Mexican figures like President Emilio Portes Gil and the musician Belisario de Jesús García.

At 15 she was offered her first acting role in La isla de la pasion (1941), the first film made by the great Mexican director Emilio “el Indio” Fernández, who was also her Godfather. Her parents – a former military man and a well-known opera singer – refused to let her participate.

It was in 1943 when – underage but with a fiery personality – Jurado signed a contract to act in Chano Urueta‘s No matarás, without her parents´ authorization. Thus began one of the most prolific artistic careers in Mexican acting history.

Her beauty, poise, sensitivity and outstanding performances began to earn her more challenging roles, often as “perverse women” – this was, after all, the height of the popularity of the film noir genre in Mexico. She immediately started work on her second film Internado para señoritas (1943, dir. Gilberto Martínez Solares), but it wasn’t until La vida inútil de Pito Pérez (1944, dir. Miguel Contreras Torres) that she began to enjoy great success.

La vida inútil de Pito Pérez (1944, dir. Miguel Contreras Torres)

Katy Jurado starred in films like Balajú (1944, dir. Rolando Aguilar) alongside María Antonienta Pons, and Nosotros los pobres (1948, dir. Ismael Rodríguez), alongside Pedro Infante. She also worked with the Spanish emigré Luis Buñuel on El Bruto (1953), alongside the great Mexican actor Pedro Armendáriz, a performance for which she was rewarded with her first Ariel Award.

Jurado was not just an actress, however. She was also a film columnist, radio journalist and bullfighting critic. In fact, it was at a bullfight that she met the American filmmaker Budd Boetticher and the actor John Wayne, both of whom helped impulse her career in Hollywood. Shortly after this meeting, Jurado starred in The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951, dir. Budd Boetticher) and the classic Western High Noon (1952, dir. Fred Zinnemann), for which she received a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1954 she was put forward to replace Dolores del Río in the role as Señora Devereaux in Edward Dmytryk´s Broken Lance. Initially, the crew was opposed to her participation, but they were soon impressed by her extraordinary performance. With this role, Jurado became the first Mexican woman to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

The actress participated in 71 films in total, as well as some television projects in the United States. Among her best-known international works are Trapeze (1956, dir. Carol Reed) and Trial (1955, dir. Mark Robson), for which she was once again nominated for a Golden Globe. In 2002 she received the Golden Boot in the United States in recognition of her work in 12 important Westerns.

In spite of her great success, her last years were overshadowed by a strong depression, due to the death of her first son Victor Hugo. Katy Jurado lived out her career in a male-dominated industry, rebelling against her family and always coming up against the prejudices of a conservative society that judged her for being a single mother after two divorces.

Trial (1955, dir. Mark Robson)

She died in 2002 in Cuernavaca, Morelos. She kept up close friendships with stars like Burt Lancaster, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Sinatra, John Huston, John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Jorge Negrete, Cantinflas, Pedro Armendáriz, Dolores del Río, among many others.