Libertad Lamarque: 1908-2000: Actor, Singer
Beckoned By Hollywood, Banned By Perón
Before long, Lamarque's success in Argentina became known, and Hollywood beckoned. Both Paramount and MGM studios offered her lengthy contracts in 1940, but she turned them down. Her Latin-American contemporaries, such as Lupita Tovar and Mona Maris, had found success in Hollywood, but were often type-cast as evil or wild women. Lamarque spoke no English and did not want to be taken advantage of in Hollywood, though she later would travel to perform there. "I have no regrets," she is quoted as saying in the Independent.
A petty catfight between Lamarque and costar Eva Duarte on the set of 1944's La Cabalgata del Circo, left Lamarque unable to find work in Argentina for a time. The two actors squabbled frequently over costumes and the script. The tension between them peaked when Duarte emerged from her dressing room wearing Lamarque's dress. Lamarque slapped her costar across the face. Duarte married Juan Perón the next year. When she became Argentina's influential first lady in 1946, Eva Perón made it virtually impossible for Lamarque to get work in Argentina. She forbade the nation's radio stations and film studios to play her music or hire her. Lamarque has denied the event ever took place, "but her career in Argentina clearly ended when Peron came to power," Myrna Oliver wrote in the Los Angeles Times.
The ban took its toll on Lamarque who, with her second husband, industrialist Alfredo Malerba, eventually moved to Mexico, where she found enormous success in films, records, and concerts. She broke box-office records there with such films as Gran Casino in 1947 and Escuela de Musica in 1957. She was part of Mexican cinema's Golden Age of the 1940s, along with such Mexican movie legends as Jorge Negrete, Dolores del Rio, Pedro Infante, Arturo de Cordoba, Jorge Rivero, and Julio Aleman. "Strangely, even with a strong Argentine accent that never quite went away, she became the darling of Mexican cinema," Carl Mora, an expert on Latin American film, told the New York Times. "Her magnetic presence made for quite a life trajectory." She performed in New York City's prestigious Carnegie Hall in 1947.
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