Conchita Montenegro
Conchita Montenegro was a Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

Model (person)
A model , sometimes called a mannequin, is a person who is employed to display, advertise and promote commercial products or to serve as a subject of works of art....

, dancer, stage and screen actress. She was educated in a convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

 in Madrid, Spain. Montenegro had brown
eyes, wavy black hair, and an olive complexion. Her sister, Juanita Montenegro, was also an actress.


Montenegro first worked professionally as a model
Model (person)
A model , sometimes called a mannequin, is a person who is employed to display, advertise and promote commercial products or to serve as a subject of works of art....

 for the famous painter Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta. During her childhood she learnt classical and Spanish dance. She was credited with revolutionizing the presentation of Spanish dances. Montenegro turned from dancing to dramatic acting and starred in numerous productions. She attained theatrical fame in Hollywood, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 by the time she was thirteen years old. At the age of sixteen, she starred in the French film La Femme et le Pantin (1928), directed by Jacques de Baroncelli
Jacques de Baroncelli
Jacques de Baroncelli was a French film director best known for his silent films from 1915 to the late 1930s....


Screen success

She came to Hollywood in June 1930 with a contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of films and television programs. MGM was founded in 1924 when the entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Loew gained control of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer...

. She was seventeen years old and could not speak a word of English. Montenegro learned enough English in three months to play the leading female part in Never the Twain Shall Meet
Never the Twain Shall Meet (1931 film)
Never the Twain Shall Meet is a 1931 talking film produced and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is based on the book by Peter B. Kyne. The film was directed by W. S. Van Dyke and was filmed in Tahiti like Van Dyke's two previous south sea adventures The Pagan and White Shadows in the South Seas...

(1931), with Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard (actor)
Leslie Howard was an English stage and film actor, director, and producer. Among his best-known roles was Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind and roles in Berkeley Square , Of Human Bondage , The Scarlet Pimpernel , The Petrified Forest , Pygmalion , Intermezzo , Pimpernel Smith...

, at the age of eighteen. The movie is the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 version of a story written by Peter B. Kyne. The motion picture was directed by W.S. Van Dyke.

Prior to this performance, Montenegro was cast in Spanish versions of MGM movies, among them Call of the Flesh
Call of the Flesh
Call of the Flesh is an American musical film directed by Charles Brabin. The film stars Ramon Novarro, Dorothy Jordan, and Renée Adorée...

and Way for a Sailor
Way for a Sailor
Way for a Sailor is a film starring John Gilbert. The supporting cast includes Wallace Beery, Jim Tully, Leila Hyams, and Polly Moran. The film was directed by Sam Wood, who insisted on no screen credit...

(both 1930). The former featured Ramon Novarro
Ramón Novarro
Ramón Novarro was a Mexican leading man actor in Hollywood in the early 20th century. He was the next male "Sex Symbol" after the death of Rudolph Valentino...

 while the latter starred Jose Crespo.

Her next screen project was Strangers May Kiss (1931). starring Norma Shearer
Norma Shearer
Edith Norma Shearer was a Canadian-American actress. Shearer was one of the most popular actresses in North America from the mid-1920s through the 1930s...

, and with Montenegro as the ingenue
Ingenue (stock character)
See also Disingenuous, which is not quite the antonym that it may seem!The ingénue is a stock character in literature, film, and a role type in the theatre; generally a girl or a young woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome. Ingenue may also refer to a new young actress or one typecast in...

 role, playing a Spanish dancer. By mid-1931, Montenegro had left MGM and signed with Fox Film Corporation. She was to play in both Spanish and English language motion pictures.

Train wreck

In August 1931, she was aboard the Southern Pacific
Southern Pacific Railroad
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....

Argonaut (passenger train)
The Argonaut was the Southern Pacific Railroad's secondary transcontinental passenger train, inaugurated in 1926, and operated between New Orleans and Los Angeles via Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso, Texas; Demming, New Mexico; Douglas and Tucson, Arizona; and Palm Springs, California, until its...

 passenger train. The train was wrecked near Yuma, Arizona
Yuma, Arizona
Yuma is a city in and the county seat of Yuma County, Arizona, United States. It is located in the southwestern corner of the state, and the population of the city was 77,515 at the 2000 census, with a 2008 Census Bureau estimated population of 90,041....

 and killed two trainmen. Luckily for Montenegro she was in the second section along with actors Warner Baxter
Warner Baxter
Warner Leroy Baxter was an American actor, known for his role as The Cisco Kid in In Old Arizona , for which he won the second Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1928–1929 Academy Awards. Warner Baxter started his movie career in silent movies...

 and Edmund Lowe
Edmund Lowe
Edmund Dantes Lowe was an American actor. His formative experience began in vaudeville and silent film. He was born in San Jose, California.-Film career:...

. The forty people among the film company were unharmed when the second section did not crash into the wrecked first section. The steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

, two cars of the baggage car
Baggage car
A baggage car or luggage van is a type of railway vehicle often forming part of the composition of passenger trains and used to carry passengers' checked baggage, as well as parcels . Being typically coupled at the front of the train behind the locomotive, this type of car is sometimes described...

 section, and a day coach overturned after the train struck a roadbed which had been softened by rain. The Argonaut was en route to a location shoot for The Cisco Kid
The Cisco Kid
The Cisco Kid refers to a character found in numerous film, radio, television and comic book series based on the fictional Western character created by O. Henry in his 1907 short story "The Caballero's Way", published in the collection Heart of the West...

(1931), in Tucson
Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

. Playing Carmencita, Montenegro had the primary female role and was the main source of strife between the Lowe and Baxter characters.

Fox starlet

The Fox Film studio selected three of its own stars in opposition to the thirteen actresses chosen as WAMPAS Baby Stars
WAMPAS Baby Stars
The WAMPAS Baby Stars was a promotional campaign sponsored by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in the United States which honored thirteen young women each year whom they believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom. They were selected from 1922 to 1934, and annual...

, sponsored by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers. The three were Montenegro, Helen Mack
Helen Mack
Helen Mack was an American actress. Mack started her career as a child actress in silent films, moving on to Broadway plays, and touring the vaudeville circuit. Her greater success as an actress was as a leading lady in the 1930s...

, and Linda Watkins. Eleven Fox publicity men resigned in protest of the WAMPAS decision to eschew naming any Fox starlets among its list of actresses most likely to achieve success. In addition Fox promised to name budding stars, or Fox debutante
A débutante is a young lady from an aristocratic or upper class family who has reached the age of maturity, and as a new adult, is introduced to society at a formal "début" presentation. It should not be confused with a Debs...

, annually.

Montenegro was sometimes featured in stage shows which coincided with the screening of film premieres. One such instance was the premiere of A Passport To Hell, which starred Elissa Landi
Elissa Landi
Elissa Landi was an Italian born actress who was popular in Hollywood films of the 1920s and 1930s. Rumoured to be a descendant of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, she was noted for her aristocratic bearing....

. The movie debuted at the Loew's Kings Theater
Loew's Kings Theater
The Kings Theatre, formerly Loew's Kings Theatre, is a movie palace-type theater located at 1025 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York City. Opened in 1929 and closed since 1977, the theater is scheduled to reopen in 2014 following a complete renovation....

 in August 1932. Montenegro provided the vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

 entertainment beforehand. On another occasion she teamed with Teddy Joyce in the stage show for the opening of The Kennel Murder Case
The Kennel Murder Case (film)
The Kennel Murder Case is a 1933 American film directed by Michael Curtiz starring William Powell as Philo Vance, reprising the role for Warner Brothers after appearing as Vance in three films for Paramount.-Plot:...

(1933). The film screened at the Warner Brothers Hollywood Theater. Together with Will Rogers
Will Rogers
William "Will" Penn Adair Rogers was an American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer, film actor, and one of the world's best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s....

, Montenegro performed an Adagio for Strings
Adagio for Strings
Adagio for Strings is a work by Samuel Barber, arranged for string orchestra from the second movement of his String Quartet, Op. 11. Barber finished the arrangement in 1936, the same year as he wrote the quartet...

 number prior to the premiere of Handy Andy
Handy Andy
Handy Andy may refer to:* Handy Andy, a book by Samuel Lover* Handy Andy , a brand of children's carpentry tools* Andy Kane, a carpenter in the BBC DIY TV show Changing Rooms...


Her movie career in America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 endured until 1940. That year she performed the leading female part in Eternal Melodies (Melodie eterne). The story focused on the unrequited first love
Unrequited love
Unrequited love is love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such, even though reciprocation is usually deeply desired. The beloved may or may not be aware of the admirer's deep affections...

 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

. Playing Alois Weber, Montenegro jilts Gino Cervi
Gino Cervi
Gino Cervi was an Italian actor of international fame.Cervi was born in Bologna. His father was the theatre critic Antonio Cervi.In 1928, he married Nini Gordini and they had a son, Tonino Cervi...

, who portrays the composer in the Italian language
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...


Private life

Montenegro applied for naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

 papers in Chicago, Illinois on March 16, 1932. She married a Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian actor, Raoul Roulien, in Paris, France, on September 19, 1935. The couple toured South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 and produced a motion picture called Jangada (1936). The film dealt with the customs of primitive peoples in South America. More famous was the Spanish version of El grito de la juventud, in Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 (1939). A short time later they were divorced.

In 1944, Montenegro married the Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 diplomat Ricardo Giménez Arnau, a senior member of the far right Falangist party and ambassador to the Holy See.

Following a rare interview with Montenegro shortly before her death, Spanish author José Rey-Ximena claims that British actor Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard (actor)
Leslie Howard was an English stage and film actor, director, and producer. Among his best-known roles was Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind and roles in Berkeley Square , Of Human Bondage , The Scarlet Pimpernel , The Petrified Forest , Pygmalion , Intermezzo , Pimpernel Smith...

 used her to get close to Spanish dictator Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 after being given the special mission by Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

. She claimed that she used her husband's influence to secure a meeting between the British actor and the Spanish dictator. "Thanks to him, at least in theory, Spain was persuaded to stay out of the war," Mr Rey-Ximena went on to claim of Howard. According to the author, Montenegro had an affair with Howard after the pair starred together in the 1931 film Never the Twain Shall Meet.

Montenegro collected dolls and woolly animals as a hobby. She acquired the reputation of a social leader in the Spanish Hollywood film colony. She leased a large house and was hostess at many gatherings.

After filming several movies in Spain, the last one Lola Montes
Lola Montes
Lola Montes may refer to:* Lola Montez, the stage name of Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert , the Irish-born Spanish dancer and courtesan* Lola Montès , feature film based on the life story of the above...

in 1944, she retired forever from the cinema, refusing any interview or presence in the media, even to honour her.

A widow since 1972, when she died in Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 she donated her body to medical science.

External links

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