Katy Jurado wrote about bull fighting and loved Louis L’Amour

January 16, 1924 

On this day film star Katy Jurado was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, perhaps the only Academy Award nominee to ever have moon lighted as a bull-fight critic.

Born Maria Christina Estella Marcella Jurado Garcia, her prestigious family enjoyed ties to Mexico’s president from 1928 to 1930.  Her father was an attorney, her mother, a singer, was the sister of a well known Mexican musician, Belisario Garcia.  Despite their ties to the entertainment industry,  her family disapproved of Jurado (right) becoming an actress.

Her smoldering beauty first attracted filmmaker Emilio Fernendez when she was just a teenager.   He could not win the Garcia’s consent, however,  to allow her to appear in movies. But when producer Mauricio del la Serna offered her a role in his 1943 film “The Isle of Passion,” Jurado signed on without asking her parents.  

Perhaps as a way to end her family’s interference, Jurado married fellow actor Victor Valazquez.  The couple had two children, a son Victor Hugo and a daughter Sandra and divorced after five years.  

Appearing in 19 films in just seven years, she also worked as a movie columnist, radio reporter and bullfight reviewer.  It was at a bull-fight that American director Budd Boetticher, (above) himself a professional bullfighter, spotted Jurado, casting her in, what else, “The Bullfighter and the Lady.” 

Handicapped by only rudimentary English, she still turned in a strong performance, good enough for director Stanly Kramer to cast her as saloon owner, Helen Ramirez, in his Western classic “High Noon.”  It won her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.  Also cast as a Native American in Hollywood Westerns, she appeared in Mexican films, as well.

It was events in Washington, D.C., not Hollywood that led to her Academy Award nomination as Spencer Tracy’s Comanche wife in the 1954 film, “Broken Lance.”  Deloris Del Rio was originally cast but was caught up in Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch hunt.  It was a first nomination for a Mexican actress.  Only two others, Selma Hayek in 2002 and Adriana Barraz in 2006, have been nominated.

The 1950s produced a steady stream of film roles both in the United States and Mexico and she debuted on Broadway in the stage play “Filumena Marturano.”  It was while making the 1959 film “The Badlands” that she met her second husband, Ernest Borgnine. (Right)  The couple had a stormy four-year relationship before divorcing in 1963.

While Jurado never married again, Hollywood gossip columnists producted a list of paramours beginning with director Boetticher and heart-throb Tyrone Power.  She met Marlin Brando in Mexico when the actor was filming “Viva Zapata,” which led to a years-long liaison. 

According to Jurado herself, however, the love of her life was legendary Western writer, Louis L’Amour, (right) claiming she should have married him.  The author wed his wife, Kathy, in 1956 and the couple remained married until L’Amour’s death in 1988.

The death of her son in a 1981 auto accident plunged her into a deep depression which plagued her for life.

Jurado appeared in dozens of television shows and a number of made-for-TV movies both in the United States and Mexico.  Her final appearance on the big screen in, “Un secreto de Esperanza,”  was released after her death in 2002.

During her later years, the actress suffered from heart and respiratory issues and died July 5, 2002, in Cuernavaca, Mexico, at the age of 78.   She was buried at the Panteon de la Paz Cemetery there.

Jurado (left, in 1978) continued to act up  well in to her seventh decade, proclaiming she was not “afraid to play mothers” on screen. “Some of these little girls are afraid to admit they are getting older. . . . You can’t put your finger in the sun and stop time,” she said.Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, 10501 Reservoir Road, Jamestown, California, was a principle location for Jurado’s breakthrough film, “High Noon.”  Still a working locomotive repair shop dating back to 1897, Railtown’s movie credits include some two dozen movies and television shows. 

The self-guided walking tour includes the shops, roundhouse and movie prop area with props from a number of movies including  “Back to the Future III”.  Train rides are scheduled on weekends from April to October, in addition to some selected dates in November and December.  The park is fully accessible with the exception of some  historic exhibits and train rides where stairs and doorways are too narrow.  Pets are welcome in the park and on trains but must be kept on a leash not longer than six feet.

Open daily April through October 9:30 to 4:30 and November through March, 10 to 3.   Closed Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 ages 6 through 17 and children 5 and under are free.   For more information go to railtown1897.org, call (916) 445-6645 for recorded information or write Railtown 1897 SHP, PO Box 1250, Jamestown, CA 95327

© Text Only – 2019 – Headin’ West LLC  – All photos – public domain or fair use.

*Head On West strives for historic accuracy and uses a number of sources considered reliable.  When research differs on significant facts, the various points of view will be cited.