Lupe Vélez

The Life and Career of Hollywood’s “Mexican Spitfire”


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About the Book

Here is the first extensive, full-length biography and career record on the life and work of Mexican whirlwind Lupe Vélez (1908–1944). Over the years many crude myths have surfaced about Vélez, the most notorious that she “died with her head in the toilet.” This biography not only studies Lupe’s personal life and career—including her tempestuous marriage to Johnny Weissmuller—but also examines her death in detail. It has been almost seven decades since her untimely end; at long last, the ugly rumors and myths are debunked—for good.
Included are never-before-told family stories and photographs from Lupe’s second cousin, and an analysis of the actress’s lasting influence on popular culture. The foreword by Oscar-winning film historian Kevin Brownlow focuses on the fact and fancy behind Lupe Vélez’s colorful public image.

About the Author(s)

Film historian Michelle Vogel lives in Victoria, Australia. Her popular blog can be found at

Bibliographic Details

Michelle Vogel
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 248
Bibliographic Info: 74 photos, filmography, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6139-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8997-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword by Kevin Brownlow 1

Preface 3

Introduction 5

 1 • A Stormy Beginning 9

 2 • First Love 15

 3 • “I Must Be Good!” 18

 4 • Time to Grow Up 23

 5 • Hollywood’s Hard Knocks 30

 6 • The Train to Tinseltown 39

 7 • The New Girl 45

 8 • “Loop” and “Coop” 59

 9 • Misunderstood 73

10 • The Voice of Vélez 78

11 • Me Tarzan, You Lupe 87

12 • Stage, Screen … and Splitting Up! 98

13 • The Girl from Mexico (1939) 113

14 • Lupe and “The Lone Ranger” 117

15 • Little Girl, “Beeg Boy” 121

16 • The “Mexican Spitfire” Series 126

17 • Nana (1944) 139

18 • Broken Promises … Fatal Consequences 145

19 • The Aftermath 159

20 • The Will 165

Filmography (1927–1944) 173


  I: Lupe’s Other Lost Productions (1929–1944) 211

  II: Appearing as Herself (1928–1941) 213

  III: Noted Stage Work (1932–1944) 215

  IV: Noted Radio Work (1930–1940) 220

  V: Pop Culture (1949–2012) 221

Chapter Notes 224

Bibliography 229

Index 235

Book Reviews & Awards

“a must for anyone curious in the stories of early Hollywood”—Midwest Book Review; “one of the best film books of 2012”—Thomas Gladysz, Huffington Post; “with her usual expertise at painstaking detail, Vogel’s heavy research reveals the troubled, vulnerable woman beneath the persona…this is a book which has everything…filled with rare photographs. Michelle Vogel has carved a firm and lofty niche among Hollywood biographers, noted for her thoroughness, accuracy, attention to detail, and readability. Lupe Velez may be her best work so far”—Rogue Cinema; “extensive”—Turner Classic Movies.