Katy Jurado, the star of Mexico’s Golden Age of cinema who paved the way for actresses of Mexican heritage today, and who squared off with Grace Kelly in the classic High Noon, is honored with a January 16, 2018 Google Doodle in commemoration of her 94th birthday.
“Initially brought to fame by playing ‘femme fatale’ characters, Katy Jurado achieved stardom in both Mexican cinema and Hollywood through her nuanced portrayals of complicated women,” Google noted. Her large eyes and spirited personality made her memorable on screen, but she also fought against typecasting during her pioneering career.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jurado’s Family Initially Banned Her From Acting
If Katy Jurado’s family had gotten its way, she would never have appeared on the silver screen. “As a teenager, Katy was barred from acting by her family, but she was so determined that she signed her first contract in secret,” Google notes. “Her career began with several films produced during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, including the successful La vida inútil de Pito Pérez (1943).”
According to IMDB, “Katy Jurado was born María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García into a wealthy family on January 16, 1924, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her early years were spent amid luxury until her family’s lands were confiscated by the federal government for redistribution to the landless peasantry.”
Katy’s aristocratic grandmother was the biggest impediment when she was first discovered as a teenager, IMDB reports, noting, “Despite the loss of property, the matriarch of the family, her grandmother, continued to live by her aristocratic ideals. When movie star Emilio Fernandez discovered Katy at the age of 16 and wanted to cast her in one of his films, Jurado’s grandmother objected to her wish to become a movie actress.”
2. Jurado Branched Out Into Hollywood & Won Many Awards, Appearing in the Classic ‘High Noon’
After her work in Mexican cinema, the stunningly beautiful Jurado found an entrance into Hollywood. “Cast in her first Hollywood film, Bullfighter and the Lady (1951), Katy’s limited grasp of English meant she delivered her lines by memorizing the way they sounded,” according to Google.
Her performance in the classic movie “High Noon” is a key part of her legacy and probably her most famous movie role. She played the ex-girlfriend of the marshal made famous by Gary Cooper in the 1952 film and her performance “included a memorable confrontation with the marshal’s new bride, played by 23-year-old Grace Kelly,” reported UK Telegraph.
Noted Google: “Katy played the narratively-important character of Helen Ramirez so skillfully that she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. Accolades for future performances would include three Silver Ariel Awards and nominations for several Academy Awards.”
3. Katy Jurado Was Remembered as ‘Tenacious’ & ‘Spirited’ But She Fought Stereotyping
Jurado was charismatic. “Off-screen, Katy was a tenacious and spirited woman who captivated everyone around her. ..While she was stunningly beautiful, her portrayals transcended the stereotyped, over-sexualized roles written for Mexican women at the time,” reported Google, which listed among her admirers Marlon Brando and novelist Louis L’Amour.
However, she was a pioneer who helped pave the way for today’s actresses. “Her talent at depicting a range of characters helped to expand the parts available to Mexican actresses in Hollywood today,” Google wrote. The New York Times described Jurado in her obituary as an actress who played “steely and often dangerous seductresses.”
4. Katy’s Family Once Owned the Land That Is Now Texas & She Died at Age 78
Katy’s family was once extremely rich. “Generations before, they had owned the whole of what is now Texas,” reported The Guardian in 2002. “Come the Mexican revolution, they lost it, and, as Jurado remarked ironically: ‘My family is no longer very, very rich, but they still live that way.’ Her father was a cattle rancher and owner of orange groves; her mother, a former opera singer who had retired from the stage to marry.”
Jurado died in 2002 at the age of 78, the Guardian reported in an obituary for the screen star. According to the Guardian, she learned lines phonetically. “Reportedly not knowing any English, during the shoot of both her early US films she learnt her lines phonetically, had them explained in Spanish and ‘hoped for the best,'” the site reported.
5. Katy Jurado Was Married to Ernest Borgnine
Jurado was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role in the movie Broken Lance. The Guardian reports that she “was married at a young age to Victor Velasquez, the Mexican film actor and writer, by whom she had a son and a daughter; in 1959 she married the actor Ernest Borgnine, from whom she was divorced after five years.”
The New York Times reports that Jurado also had a career as a writer, penning columns and having a stint as a bullfighting critic. The Telegraph described Jurado’s marriage to Borgnine as a “stormy” one, quoting him as saying: “Katy was beautiful. But a tiger.” After their divorce, she returned home to Mexico and morphed into a character actress, according to The Telegraph.