Sara Montiel

María Antonia Abad Fernández MML (10 March 1928 – 8 April 2013), known professionally as Sara Montiel, and as Sarita Montiel, was a Spanish singer and actress.[1][2][3] She has been called a "sexual, feminist, and gay icon for Francoist Spain."[4]

Sara Montiel

Sara Montiel.jpg
Montiel in 1955
María Antonia Alejandra Vicenta Elpidia Isidora Abad Fernández

(1928-03-10)10 March 1928
Died8 April 2013(2013-04-08) (aged 85)
Madrid, Spain
  • Spain
  • Mexico (naturalized)
  • Singer
  • actress
Years active1943–2013
  • (m. 1957; div. 1963)
  • José Vicente Ramírez Olalla
    (m. 1964; div. 1970)
  • Ion Dichiseanu
    (m. 1971; died 1978)
  • José Tous Barberán
    (m. 1979; died 1992)
  • Antonio Hernández
    (m. 2002; div. 2005)

Montiel was born in Campo de Criptana in the region of Castile–La Mancha in 1928.[2] She worked in Europe, Latin America and United States. Her films The Last Torch Song and The Violet Seller netted the highest gross revenues ever recorded for films made in the Spanish-speaking movie industry during the 1950s/60s.[2][5][6][7]

She was portrayed in the Pedro Almodóvar film Bad Education by a male actor in drag (Gael García Bernal) as the cross-dressing character Zahara, and a film clip from one of her movies was used, as well.[1]

Acting careerEdit

Montiel started in movies at 16[8] in her native Spain, where she appeared in a secondary role in her first movie, Te quiero para mí (I want you for myself) in 1944,[6] immediately followed by a leading role in Empezó en boda (It Began with a Wedding) also in 1944.[9][10] In April 1950, accompanied by her mother, she moved to Mexico, starring in a dozen films in less than five years.[11] It was in Mexico that she first learned how to read and write, taught by the poet León Felipe.[11] Hollywood came calling afterwards, and she was introduced to United States moviegoers in the film Vera Cruz (1954), directed by Robert Aldrich. She was offered the standard seven-year contract at Columbia Pictures, which she refused, afraid of Hollywood's typecasting policies for Hispanics. Instead she freelanced at Warner Bros. in Serenade (1956), directed by Anthony Mann, and at RKO in Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow (1957).

In 1957 she returned to Spain and starred in El último cuplé (The Last Torch Song),[12] which was filmed with a very low budget, became a worldwide megahit, and made Montiel a film and singing superstar.[11][5] After The Last Torch Song, she combined filming, recording songs in five languages and performing live.

Almost all of her films earned high box office results. Among the films during the 1960s and early 1970s were The Violet Seller (1958 - Her fee for this film was one million dollars, which was "something unheard of for a Spanish star in those days."),[2] Carmen, la de Ronda (1959), Mi Último Tango (1960), Pecado de Amor (1961), La Bella Lola (a 1962 version of Camille), Casablanca, Nid d'espions (1963), Samba (1964), La Femme Perdue (1966), Tuset Street (1967), Esa Mujer (1969), Varietes (1971) and others. By then she had become dissatisfied with the movie industry and what she saw as overt nudity in films.[13] Montiel's film Variety was banned in Beijing in 1973.

In 1974, Montiel announced her retirement from movies but continued performing live, recording, and starring on her own variety television shows in Spain, including MTV[14][15][16]

In November 2009, the performer Alaska, from the Spanish pop group Fangoria, invited Montiel to record a track sharing vocals with her for the re-release of the band's album Absolutamente. They recorded the title track "Absolutamente" as a duet. The music video for the song was released on 18 December 2009.[17] Well into her 80s, she had no plans to retire, and continued working in various projects.[9] In May 2011, after almost 40 years without making a movie, she performed in a feature film directed by Óscar Parra de Carrizosa. The film title is Abrázame and was shot on location in La Mancha.

She is considered "one of the most important actresses in the history of Spain",[8] and has been described by Spain's press as a "myth of Spanish cinema."[18] Montiel has also been characterized as "the most beautiful woman of 20th century Spain."[19] She appeared in nearly 50 films and recorded around 500 songs.[8]

Personal informationEdit

Monument to Montiel in Campo de Criptana.

Montiel was born María Antonia Abad Fernández (complete name María Antonia Alejandra Vicenta Elpidia Isidora Abad Fernández) in 1928 in Campo de Criptana (Ciudad Real), Spain.[2] She entered films after winning a talent contest at age 15.[11][20] In her first movie, she was credited as "María Alejandra" a shortened version of her real name. For her next film, she changed her name to Sara, after her grandmother, and Montiel after the Montiel fields in the Castile–La Mancha region of her birth. She was married four times,[21][11] and was ex-communicated by the Catholic Church in Spain for the civil-wedding ceremony of her first marriage:[11]

  • Anthony Mann (American actor, film director); 1957–1963 (divorced)
  • José Vicente Ramírez Olalla (attorney); 1964–1978 (annulled)
  • José Tous Barberán (attorney, journalist); 1979–1992 (Tous's death); this union produced two adopted children: Thais (born 1979) and José Zeus (born 1983)[22]
  • Antonio Hernández (Cuban videotape operator); 2002–2005 (divorced)

In 2000, Montiel published her autobiography Memories: To Live Is a Pleasure, an instant best seller with 10 editions to date. A sequel Sara and Sex followed in 2003. In these books, Montiel revealed other relationships in her past, including one-night stands with writer Ernest Hemingway[11] as well as actor James Dean.[23] She also claimed a long-term affair in the 1940s with playwright Miguel Mihura[11] and mentioned that science wizard Severo Ochoa, a Nobel Prize winner, was the true love of her life.[11][24]

In her later years, Montiel became an iconic figure to the gay community, and noted "Cuando voy a actuar a alguna ciudad de EE UU allí están todos los gays de la ciudad" (Whenever I perform in any city in the USA, all the gays from that city show up).[13] Montiel died in 2013 at her home in Madrid at the age of 85 from congestive heart failure,[25][20] and was buried in the San Justo Cemetery in Madrid.[9]


Year Title Role Country Notes
1943 Te Quiero Para Mí Ana María Spain Credited as "María Alejandra"
1944 Empezó en Boda Spain
1945 Bambú Yoyita, hija del gobernador Spain
1945 Se le Fue el Novio Spain
1945 El Misterioso Viajero del Clipper Cristina Gutiérrez Spain
1946 Por el Gran Premio Spain
1946 Mariona Rebull Lula Spain
1947 Don Quixote Antonia Spain Released in the U.S. in 1949
1947 Alhucemas María Luisa Pereira Spain
1948 Confidencia Elena Spain
1948 Madness for Love Aldara Spain Released in the U.S. in 1949 as The Mad Queen
1948 La Mies es Mucha Guyerati Spain
1949 Vidas Confusas Spain
1950 Pequeñeces... Monique Spain
1951 Women's Prison Dora Mexico
1951 Red Fury María Stevens Mexico / United States Stronghold is its English version with Veronica Lake in Montiel's part
1951 Captain Poison Angustias Spain
1952 Necesito Dinero María Teresa Mexico
1952 Here Comes Martin Corona Rosario Mexico
1952 El Enamorado / Vuelve Martín Corona Rosario Mexico
1953 She, Lucifer and I Isabel Mexico
1953 That Man from Tangier Aixa Spain / United States
1953 Cinnamon Skin Marucha Mexico / Cuba
1953 Yo soy gallo dondequiera Rosalia Mexico
1953 Reportaje Mexico She does not appear in the final cut
1954 Porque Ya No Me Quieres Rosaura Moreno / Lilia Mexico
1954 Se solicitan modelos Rosina Mexico
1954 Vera Cruz Nina United States
1955 Frente al Pecado de Ayer / Cuando se Quiere de Veras Lucecita Mexico / Cuba
1955 Yo no Creo en los Hombres María Caridad Robledo Mexico / Cuba
1956 Serenade Juana Montes United States
1956 Where the Circle Ends Isabel Mexico Circle of Death in the U.S.
1957 The Last Torch Song Maria Luján Spain
1957 Run of the Arrow Yellow Moccasin United States
1958 The Violet Seller Soledad Moreno Spain
1959 A Girl Against Napoleon Carmen Spain The Devil Made a Woman in the U.S. and U.K.
1960 My Last Tango Marta Andreu Spain
1961 Pecado de amor Magda Beltrán / Sor Belén Spain
1962 The Lovely Lola Lola Spain
1962 Queen of The Chantecler La Bella Charito Spain
1963 Casablanca, Nest of Spies Teresa Vilar Spain
1965 Samba Belén / Laura Monteiro Spain / Brazil
1965 La dama de Beirut Isabel Llanos Spain
1966 The Lost Woman Sara Fernán Spain
1967 Tuset Street Violeta Riscal Spain
1969 Esa Mujer Soledad Romero Fuentes Spain
1971 La casa de los Martínez
1971 Variety Ana Marqués Spain
1974 Cinco Almohadas para una Noche Rosa López / Ana Spain
1996 Asaltar los Cielos Herself Spain Documental
2002 Sara Una Estrella Herself Spain Documental
2002 Machin, Toda Una Vida Herself Spain Documental
2003 A Thousand Clouds of Peace Spain Montiel's recording of "Nena" used as theme song
2004 Bad Education Spain Features a couple of Montiel's songs and film clips
2011 Abrázame Sara Montiel Spain (final film role)


  • Sara Montiel en Mexico
  • Canciones de la Película "El Último Cuple" - London 5409
  • La Violetera - Columbia - EX 5056
  • Baile con Sara Montiel
  • Carmen la de Ronda - Columbia EX 5020
  • Besos de Fuego
  • Mi Último Tango - Columbia EX 5048
  • El Tango
  • Pecado de Amor - Columbia EX 5092
  • La Bella Lola
  • Noches De Casablanca
  • Samba
  • La Dama de Beirut
  • Canta Sarita Montiel
  • Esa Mujer
  • Sara
  • Varietés
  • Sara... Hoy
  • Saritisima
  • Anoche con Sara
  • Purisimo Sara
  • Sara De Cine
  • Sara A Flor de Piel
  • Amados Mios
  • Todas Las Noches A Las Once
  • Sara Montiel La Diva
  • Sara Montiel La Leyenda
  • Besame - Columbia EX 5077 (1962)
  • Songs From The Film Besame - Columbia EX 5135


  • Gold Medal of Merit in Labour (Kingdom of Spain, 5 December 2008).[26]


  • 2012 - "Reina de la Belleza Honorífica".[27]


  1. ^ a b "La Gran Diva: Remembering Sara Montiel". Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  2. ^ a b c d e "PASSINGS: Sara Montiel, Josep Joan Bigas Luna". Los Angeles Times. 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  3. ^ "Sara Montiel es hoy de las 'Imprescindibles'". Diario de Sevilla (in Spanish). 2019-12-15. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  4. ^ "Sara Montiel, el extraño caso de un icono sexual, feminista y gay en pleno franquismo". El Confidencial (in Spanish). 2013-04-14. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  5. ^ a b "Muere Sara Montiel a los 85 años". FormulaTV (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  6. ^ a b "Sara Montiel". News Europa (in Spanish). 2020-04-08. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  7. ^ "Muere Sara Montiel". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  8. ^ a b c Moya, Edwin López (2018-04-12). "New Sara Montiel biography is being written in Philadelphia". AL DÍA News. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  9. ^ a b c "Sara Montiel". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  10. ^ Jaime, Víctor Núñez (2013-04-08). "Fallece la actriz Sara Montiel". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i "La boda de Sara Montiel y Toni Hernández: el día que se acuñó el ¿Pero qué pasa? ¿Pero qué invento es esto?". Vanity Fair (in Spanish). 2019-10-12. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  12. ^ The Last Torch Song (1957), retrieved 2020-05-08
  13. ^ a b "Sara Montiel: Un pájaro libre". ABC (in Spanish). 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  14. ^ "Sara Montiel Dies; Actress Was 85"
  15. ^ Olivo, Sara (2017-04-08). "Hace cuatro años nos dejó Sara Montiel: la recordamos en sus mejores momentos (incluye vídeos)". Revista Love (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  16. ^ "Los 11 momentazos de Sara Montiel (VÍDEOS, FOTOS)". El HuffPost (in Spanish). 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  17. ^ Music video for Absolutamente 2009 on YouTube
  18. ^ "Muere Sara Montiel, mito del cine español". ABC (in Spanish). 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  19. ^ "El cuplé final de la Montiel". Diario Sur (in Spanish). 2015-02-05. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  20. ^ a b "Sara Montiel; adiós a la Violetera". LoQueSomos (in Spanish). 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  21. ^ Baez, Marcelo (2013-04-23). "An Imaginary Cocktail Party Tribute to Diva Sara Montiel". ABC News. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  22. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  23. ^ "35 cosas increíbles que hizo, dijo y cantó Sara Montiel". Vanity Fair (in Spanish). 2016-04-08. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  24. ^ de Llano, Pablo (2018-03-31). "Sara Montiel, el pan y los hombres". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  25. ^ "Sara Montiel Dead: Spanish Film Legend Dies At 85". Huffington Post. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  26. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  27. ^ Certamen Reina Belleza S.L.

External linksEdit