The Golden Age of Hollywood Movies, 1931-1943
Vol VIII: Lupe Velez
By James R Ashley
Copyright 2014 James R Ashley
Lupe Velez was the poster child for “Hollywood's Girls Go Wild,” during the golden age of Hollywood moviemaking. She was quite likely bi-polar and her mood swings alternated between withdrawn and depressed sometimes in private, to a spitfire wildcat in public. She was renowned for her hair-trigger temper, uncontrollable violence, and erratic actions. She would regularly beat and scratch her lovers for no apparent reason and would think nothing of engaging a strange man in fisticuffs, if he insulted the very husband she had just argued with and abused. She was known for throwing the wildest parties in Hollywood and loved to be the center of attention. Solo dancing to the popular Latin rhythms of the day, Lupe would inevitably lift her dress above her head to display her genital area, which was always void of undergarments, much to the astonishment of her guests. She cultivated her Mexican spitfire persona by an exaggerated broken English spoken with such a heavy accent that script writers for a time actually wrote her dialog that way, until she objected to it.
Lupe was drop-dead gorgeous when she began her career, and her presence on the screen was riveting. In her first “talkie” her dialog was limited to a repetition of, “me understand.” Quite likely because of Lupe’s heavy accent, she had no future as either a romantic or dramatic actress with the advent of sound. She did, however, have a future in comedy, as her exaggerated Mexican accent and highly animated mannerisms struck people of the day as comical. After being sacked by MGM for her last 2 stinko movies there, Lupe went to England to make 3 forgettable movies for British Cinema. She then returned to Hollywood and signed a contract for a third of what she had made at MGM and then made 7 Mexican Spitfire movies over a 3-year period. That, in effect, was the last of Lupe’s movie career.