Sara Montiel (also Sarita Montiel or Saritísima; 10 March 1928 – 8 April 2013) was a Spanish singer and actress.
She was a much-loved and internationally known name in the Spanish-speaking movie and music industries. Montiel was born in Campo de Criptana in the region of Castile–La Mancha in 1928 as María Antonia Abad (complete name María Antonia Alejandra Vicenta Elpidia Isidora Abad Fernández). After her unprecedented international hit in Juan de Orduña's El Último Cuplé in 1957, Montiel achieved the status of mega-star in Europe and Latin America. She was the most commercially successful Spanish actress during the mid-20th century in much of the world.
Miss Montiel's film Varietes was banned in Beijing in 1973. Her films El Último Cuple and La Violetera netted the highest gross revenues ever recorded for films made in the Spanish speaking movie industry during the 1950s/60s. She played the role of Antonia, the niece of Don Quixote, in the 1947 Spanish film version of Cervantes's great novel.
Montiel started in movies at 15 in her native Spain where she filmed her first international success playing an Islamic princess in the 1948 film Locura de Amor, released in the US as The Mad Queen. Later she conquered Mexico, starring in a dozen films in less than five years. Hollywood came calling afterwards, and she was introduced to United States moviegoers in the film Vera Cruz (1954) co-starring with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster, and directed by Robert Aldrich.
She was offered the standard seven-year contract at Columbia Pictures, which she quickly refused, afraid of Hollywood's typecasting policies for Hispanics. Instead she free-lanced at Warner Bros. with Mario Lanza and Joan Fontaine in Serenade (1956), directed by Anthony Mann, and at RKO in Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow (1957), opposite Rod Steiger and Charles Bronson.
The unexpected success of El Ultimo Cuple (1957) turned her into an overnight sensation both as an actor and a singer. From then on she combined filming highly successful vehicles, recording songs in five languages and performing live all over the world.
Here's "La Violetera" from above 1958 album.
She enjoyed great commercial success, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, starring or participating in 60 movies. She was the first Spanish actress to achieve success in Hollywood, where she worked with some of the biggest stars of the era, such as Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Joan Fontaine, Mario Lanza, Vincent Price and Charles Bronson. She had become a legend to her millions of fans but became dissatisfied with the movie industry when producers started offering her roles in soft core porno films.
In 1974 Montiel announced her retirement from movies but continued performing live, recording and starring on her own variety television shows in Spain. Until her last days, she remained one of the highest paid celebrities in Spain's TV talk and reality shows.
In 2000 Montiel published her autobiography "Memories: To Live Is A Pleasure", an instant best seller with ten 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 as well as actor James Dean. She also claimed a long term affair in the 1940s with playwright Miguel Mihura and mentioned that science wizard Severo Ochoa, a Nobel Prize winner, was the true love of her life.
In November 2009, Alaska from the 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 and when the single was released it became an instant Top 10 hit. The music video for the song was also highly successful when released in early 2010. She had no plans to retire, and, in May 2011, after almost 40 years without making a movie, she accepted to perform in a feature film directed by Óscar Parra de Carrizosa. The film title is Abrázame and was shot on location in La Mancha. According to the star, in this film she dared to do "a parody of her old screen image, just for fun.
Montiel died in 2013 at her home in Madrid, Spain at the age of 85 from natural causes. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia)