Long before the push for diversity and inclusion, Hollywood had a few Latin/Hispanic stars who made a big impact. One was Katy Jurado, the first Latina actress to win a Golden Globe (for 1952’s “High Noon”) and the first nominated for an Oscar (1954’s “Broken Lance”).
She was born Jan. 16, 1924, in Mexico, and began making films as a teenager. Though she was originally cast as spitfires or vamps, her roles got better and she added intelligence and subtlety to her characters. Variety reviewed her in the 1951 film “Bullfighter and the Lady,” saying she “makes a very strong impression” in her Hollywood debut. She won three Ariel Awards, the highest honor for Mexican filmmaking, including one for Luis Buñuel’s 1953 “El Bruto”; in 1997, she added a Special Golden Ariel for lifetime achievement.
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Painted by Diego Rivera and romanced by novelist Louis L’Amour, Jurado remained the only Mexican actress to be Oscar nominated for nearly 50 years, until Salma Hayek became a contender for “Frida.”
Aside from Buñuel, she worked with such notable directors as Fred Zinnemann, Sam Peckinpah and John Huston. She also starred with Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley, Spencer Tracy, Charlton Heston and Burt Lancaster, often in Westerns. Though Hollywood studios wanted to sign her to a contract, she refused because she wanted to continue making films in both Mexico and the U.S.
Jurado was cast in “Broken Lance” when the original star, Dolores del Rio, couldn’t obtain a U.S. work visa because of her alleged “leftist leanings”; this was the time of the blacklist and del Rio was suspected of being sympathetic to Communism.
Though Latin/Hispanic workers were rare, Hollywood in the early 1950s regularly hired Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quinn, Gilbert Roland, Thomas Gomez (Oscar-nominated for the 1947 “Ride the Pink Horse”) and José Ferrer (who won as best actor for the 1950 “Cyrano de Bergerac”), among others.
Jurado died in 2002 at age 78.