María Elena Velasco

María Elena Velasco Fragoso (17 December 1940 – 1 May 2015) was a Mexican actress, comedian, singer-songwriter, dancer, screenwriter, film producer, and one of Mexico's few major female film directors.[1][2] She is best known for creating and portraying La India María, a comical character based on indigenous Mexican women.

María Elena Velasco Fragoso
Birth nameMaría Elena Velasco Fragoso
Born(1940-12-17)17 December 1940
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Died1 May 2015(2015-05-01) (aged 74)
Mexico City, Mexico
MediumFilm, television, music, theatre
NationalityMexican
Years active1962–2015
GenresCharacter comedy, slapstick
Subject(s)Indigenous Mexican women
Spouse
(m. 1965; died 1974)
Children3

Early lifeEdit

Velasco was born in Puebla, to Tomás Velasco Saavedra, a railway mechanic, and María Elena Fragoso Peón.[3] She had three siblings, Gloria, Tomás and Susana.[3]

After the death of Tomás Velasco, the family moved to Mexico City, where she worked as a dancer at the Teatro Tívoli.[3][4] Later, she became one of the showgirls of the Teatro Blanquita, where she also participated in sketches starring comedians such as José "El Ojón" Jasso and Óscar Ortiz de Pinedo, among others.[3]

CareerEdit

In 1962, her popularity at the Teatro Blanquita attracted the attention of producer Miguel Morayta, who cast her in her first film role in the drama Los derechos de los hijos (1963), starring Elvira Quintana and Carlos Agostí. Juan Bustillo Oro gave her the small part of Petra, a maid, in México de mis recuerdos (1963).[3] In 1964, she began to include comedic material to her appearances in sketches and, in the meantime, played servants in television programs.[3] She soon developed a comedy character named Elena María, a rural Mexican woman.[3] Her breakthrough came when director Fernando Cortés recommended her to portray an indigenous woman named "María" in one of Mantequilla's sketches.[3] The character was dressed in traditional garb consisting of traditionally braided and ribboned hair and colorful native-type blouses and skirts.[3] In an effort to make her portrayal more authentic, she observed the gestures and mannerisms of indigenous women; her own mother made dresses for the character. She later appeared in the western El bastardo (1968), where she was credited for the first time as "María Elena Velasco 'La India María'".[3]

In 1969, Velasco appeared as La India María in a comic segment of the weekly program Siempre en domingo, hosted by Raúl Velasco (who is unrelated to María Elena). The segment quickly became a hit and she starred in other successful television programs.[3] Her first La India María film, Tonta, tonta, pero no tanto (1972), was directed by Fernando Cortés; in total, Cortés directed eight La India María films until his death in 1979. The enormous success of the film spawned a series of low-budget comedies that became a mainstay in Mexican movie theaters. Velasco won a Silver Goddess Award for Best Comedic Performance for ¡El que no corre... vuela! (1982).[4] She made her directorial debut in El coyote emplumado (1983). She also starred the television series Ay María, qué puntería (1998).[5]

Personal lifeEdit

In the early 1960s, Velasco met Russian-born Mexican film actor and choreographer Julián de Meriche (born Vladimir Lipkies Chazan)[6] at the Teatro Blanquita.[3] They married and had two children, producer-director Iván Lipkies and actress, screenwriter and producer Ivette Eugenia Lipkies, also known as Goretti Lipkies.[7] She later said: "My husband was worth gold, I will not lie and say he was the perfect man, but he was the love of my life." She also had a daughter with Raul Velasco named Marina Velasco who was given up and kept a secret ,[7]

DeathEdit

Her death was announced over Twitter by the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía on 1 May 2015; the cause of death was not made public, but it was known that she had been suffering from stomach cancer.[8]

PerformancesEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1963 México de mis recuerdos Petra First credited film role
1963 Los derechos de los hijos María
1964 El revólver sangriento Pedro's wife
1968 El bastardo María
1972 Tonta, tonta, pero no tanto María Nicolasa Cruz First India María film
1973 ¡Pobre, pero honrada! María Nicolasa Cruz
1974 La madrecita Sor María Nicolasa Cruz
1975 La presidenta municipal María Nicolasa Cruz
1976 El miedo no anda en burro María Nicolasa Cruz
1977 Sor Tequila María Nicolasa "Sor Tequila"
1978 Duro pero seguro María Nicolasa Cruz
1978 La comadrita María Nicolasa Cruz
1981 Okey, Mister Pancho María Nicolasa Cruz
1982 ¡El que no corre... vuela! María Nicolasa Cruz Silver Goddess Award for Best Comedy Performance
1983 El coyote emplumado María Directorial debut
1984 Ni Chana, ni Juana Juana Cruz / Emilia Falcón
1988 Ni de aquí, ni de allá María
1993 Se equivocó la cigüeña María Nicolasa Cruz
1999 Las delicias del poder María / Lorena Barriga
2014 La hija de Moctezuma María Nicolasa Cruz[9] Nominated – Silver Goddess Award for Best Original Song

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1969 Domingos espectaculares La India María
1970 Siempre en domingo La India María
1972 Revista musical Nescafé La India María
1988 Papá soltero La India María 1 episode
1998 ¡Ay María qué puntería! La India María
2003 La hora pico La India María 1 episode
2003 Mujer, casos de la vida real María 1 episode – "Amor incondicional"
2004 La familia P. Luche La India María Season 1 episode 38 – "Nos vamos de viaje"
2013 Corazón indomable María Nicolasa Cruz de Olivares

StageEdit

Year Production Author Notes
1970 El séptimo sello Ingmar Bergman
1972 Dos viejos pánicos Virgilio Piñera
1972 Inmaculada Héctor Azar
1994 México canta y aguanta María Elena Velasco Mexican Theatre Critics Association Award for Best Revue

DiscographyEdit

  • La mejor cantante de todas las grabadoras (1971)
  • De chile, de dulce y de manteca (1982)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Biographical Dictionary of Mexican Film Performers: "U-Z". umd.edu
  2. ^ Google books, Women filmmakers in Mexico: the country of which we dream, Elissa Rashkin, 2001, p. 76.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "La India María", La historia detras del mito. Azteca; accessed 4 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b "VELASCO, María Elena". Escritores del cine. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Mañana da inicio "Ay María, que puntería"". El Siglo de Torreón. 5 January 1998. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  6. ^ Julián de Meriche profile, Biographical Dictionary of Mexican Film Performers terpconnect.umd.edu; accessed 4 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b Mora, Angélica (21 October 2014). "María Elena Velasco, 'La India María' nos revela porqué ¡no se volvió a casar!". TVNotas. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Fallece María Elena Velasco, 'La India María'". Excelsior. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  9. ^ Graban película de “La India María” – Diario Eyipantla Milenio. Diarioeyipantla.com, 24 May 2011; retrieved 14 July 2012.

Further readingEdit

Rohrer, Seraina (2017). La India María: Mexploitation and the Films of María Elena Velasco. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9781477313442.

External linksEdit