Mona Maris

Biography

Sultry, sleepy-eyed Argentine brunette Mona Maris was born Rosa Emma Mona Maria Marta Capdevielle, of Spanish-French parentage. Her well-to-do background ensured a quality education with an emphasis on foreign languages. Mona mastered three of them, but, alas, English was not among them. This mattered little early on, as her career began in silent films in 1925, first in England and France, then with Universum AG in Germany. Moving to the U.S. in 1929, she was signed by Fox to co-star opposite Warner Baxter in two above-average westerns: Vieja hidalguía (1929) and the Bandido por excelencia (1930) (in which she was rather overshadowed by a young Carole Lombard). In fairness, neither film gave her much to do, except be ornamental. In 'Arizona Kid', she was also unwisely permitted to sing, which was not her forte. Combined with her rather strained command of English, it was somewhat inevitable that she would find herself relegated to acting in a string of Spanish-language versions of American films. Mona Maris is remembered today less for her sojourn in Hollywood, than for her on-screen chemistry with legendary singer Carlos Gardel in the musical drama Cuesta abajo (1934). Filmed in Argentina, it co-starred Mona as a femme fatale and proved to be her defining screen role. She auditioned for the part via telephone from the Paramount lot (having just completed shooting of El templo de las hermosas (1934)) for French-born director Louis J. Gasnier, winning out over fellow candidates Raquel Torres and Rosita Montenegro. "Cuesta abajo" was well-received upon its release in the U.S., becoming the most successful Spanish-language film up to that time. Following Gardel's untimely death in 1935, Mona absented herself from the screen for six years. She returned to Hollywood again in the early 40's, free-lancing for most of the majors, in films like Le Faucon au Mexique (1944) and Tampico (1944). Even though, her English was now fluent, she remained mostly typecast as south-of-the-border senoritas. After an uncredited bit in the Bob Hope comedy Le joyeux barbier (1946), her career wound down with a third-billed part in a third rate swashbuckler for Republic, Les mousquetaires de la vengeance (1950). Shortly after that, she called it a day and in 1960 retired to Lima, Peru, with her second husband, Dutch millionaire Herman Rick.

Filmography

Movie Name Release Date
Cuesta abajo March 7, 1935