December 13, 2007

December 13 | Lupe Vélez

July 18, 1908 - December 13, 1944: Age 36

"The first time you buy a house you think how pretty it is and sign the check. The second time you look to see if the basement has termites. It's the same with men."

Lupe Vélez was a Mexican actress most famous for her role as Mexican Spitfire. She had a talent for comedy, and the "Mexican Spitfire" character, which parodied stereotypes of Hispanic women, was popular enough to become a series and to make her a major star.

The list of her lovers is truly impressive, and includes Errol Flynn, Johnny Weismuller (whom she married), Anthony Quinn, Charlie Chaplin, Red Skelton, Gary Cooper, and John Gilbert, to name but a few. Also among them was a married Austrian actor named Harald Maresch. Lupe seems to have been in love with him, and when she became pregnant with his child could not choose abortion and could not face the shame of bringing an illegitimate child into the world. She took an overdose of Seconal and died in her sleep, leaving a suicide note that read, "To Harald, may God forgive you and forgive me too but I prefer to take my life away and our baby's before I bring him with shame or killing him, Lupe."

A nasty urban legend perpetrated by Kenneth Anger in Hollywood Babylon claims that she died by drowning with her head in the toilet, but it seems to be not only undocumented by any shred of evidence, but also wildly implausible. Let's hope Mythbusters gets onto this one.

Sources: Wikipedia, The Straight Dope, Who's Dated Who?

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