Lupita Tovar, the Mexican actress best known for her starring role in the 1931 Spanish-language version of Dracula, died this weekend at her Los Angeles home. She was 106.
According to the Washington post, Tovar’s grandson, Paul Weitz, a movie director, writer, and producer, confirmed the death. Tovar died last Friday and the cause was a heart ailment, her grandson said.
The Spanish-language "Dracula" was shot concurrently with the Bela Lugosi version, using the same sets at night — a common practice in the early days of sound film. The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress recently included the Spanish-language version on its list of "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant films.
She was 17 when she was discovered by Robert Flaherty, a documentary filmmaker, according to Deadline. He invited her to compete in a screen test competition where she ended up winning first place. That took her to Hollywood – a move her father protested at first. But she was given permission after promising she would send most of her money to her family.
Once she relocated to the U.S. from Mexico, began to study Spanish dances, guitar, dramatic acting and English.
Tovar worked on the Spanish-language version of The Cat Creeps and was hired after that for the part of Eva Sward in Dracula, the Spanish-language version. Her acting career took off after that, and she became “the Sweetheart of Mexico.”
Guadalupe Natalia Tovar in Matías Romero, Oaxaca was born in Matias Romero, Oaxaca in 1910 and the oldest of nine children, according to Deadline. When she was 8, her father took a job with the National Railroad of Mexico, relocating the family to Mexico City.
From the years 1929 to 1945, Tovar starred in 31 films in both Mexico and the United States. She grew famous, and became friends with legendary artist Diego Tivera, who immortalized her in his paintings.
Tovar was married to agent-producer Paul Kohner, whose daughter Susan Kohner was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Douglas Sirk's 1959 melodrama, "Imitation of Life." Her grandchildren, Paul and Chris Weitz, are both Oscar-nominated screenwriters and filmmakers.
Actress Lucy Tovar announced her aunt's death Saturday on Facebook.
Includes reporting by The Associated Press.