María Félix: 23 Facts About the Mexican Icon & Queen of Cinema

Iconic Mexican star María Félix has inspired legions of women with her spunk, her talent, and her timeless beauty

Maria Feliz bioseries

Photo: Wikimedia/Unknown (Mondadori Publishers)

Iconic Mexican star María Félix has inspired legions of women with her spunk, her talent, and her timeless beauty. We wanted to celebrate her legacy by sharing some facts everyone should know about the legendary Mexicana. Like other classic Latinx stars of the past, many of us instantly recognize María Félix’s face and name but don’t necessarily know her legacy.

It’s important to fully learn and understand the major achievements of notable Latinxs, so we can continue to share their achievements and accomplishments while remaining inspired. The more people know about the star, the more her artistic legacy can live on.

Let’s start with the basics. María Félix was born Marí de Los Angeles Félix Güereña, on April 8, 1914, in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Her immense beauty led to Félix becoming a university beauty queen before she was discovered on the streets of Mexico. The rest, as they say, is history. Here are 23 facts you should know about her. wp_*posts

María Félix is the Queen of Mexican Cinema

When you ask folks who the biggest star of Mexican cinema is, they often respond with María Félix. She was everything you would expect a megastar to be — beautiful, accomplished, and successful, with a bold personality, and a healthy ego. The Mexican actress won multiple awards and became known all around the world. María Félix has been gone for 17 years but has never been forgotten. With a quick search, you can find T-shirts with her image and her iconic quotes all over Instagram and Pinterest.


Her Nickname is “La Doña”

In 1943, María Félix starred in the film Doña Barbara. Not only did the role make her a household name, but it also deemed her the nickname, La Doña. A feminine version of the word “don,” doña is an honorific title, meaning “lady,” given to a Spanish woman of rank. It’s the name given to a female boss, a married woman, and/or the lady of the house. Since María Felix was known for being a fierce and independent woman, the nickname makes perfect sense.


Folks also called her María Bonita

In addition to being known as La Doña, María Félix was often referred to as María Bonita. But unlike La Doña, this name wasn’t the result of a film role, but rather the name of a song written for María Félix by Agustin Lara. In fact, María and Agustin Lara fell in love and eventually married in 1943. Some sources say the song was written as his wedding present to his bride. Other claim it was written as an apology after a fight.


Plastic Surgeons Thought Her Face Was Perfect

It’s not surprising at all that a plastic surgeon would think that María Félix’s face was ideal. Before becoming an actress, María Félix worked as a receptionist for a plastic surgeon in Mexico City. He had her serve as a model, showing patients how they could look.


Stardom Found Her

María Félix didn’t go looking for a career in acting or even stardom. It all found her. María Félix was discovered walking down the street in Mexico City by Mexican director and filmmaker Fernando Palacios, who approached Maria, asking her if she wanted to be an actress. She is credited with having said: “When I want to, it will be through the front door.” Palacios went on to groom the newbie for stardom and she eventually became an icon.


She Turned Down a Start in Hollywood

When Fernando Palacios was grooming María Félix for stardom, he would often take her to the ritzy country clubs where big-name stars, such as Lupe Velez, would be seen. This led to Félix being taken to Hollywood, where the iconic filmmaker Cecile B. DeMille himself offered to launch her career in Tinsel Town. But María Félix famously said no. She wasn’t interested in the stereotypical roles Latinas were given in Hollywood at the time — solely indigenous roles and parts portraying “spitfires.” She also never learned English, nor apparently cared to. She did things on her own terms.


María Félix Has Some Amazing Quotes

One thing that helps keep María Félix’s memory and legacy alive are her empowering quotes. She did not hesitate to speak her mind, boost her own ego, and say what needed to be said. Here is one of her best known and loved quotes: “Soy mas cabrona que bonita, y mira que soy muy bonita,” which translates to “I’m more badass/bitchier/smarter than I am pretty, and look how pretty I am.”


She Made 47 Films

During the span of her career, María Félix starred in 47 films. These include films made in Mexico, as well as in other countries, including Argentina, France, and Spain. Some of her best-known films include Doña Barbara, Enamorada, Maclovia, Rio Escondido, La Diosa Arrodillada, Doña Diabla, and French Cancan. You might want to add these to your must-see movies list!


Félix Created the Iconic Cartier Snake and Alligator Necklaces

You have probably seen photos of Maria Felix wearing her signature, bold, and over-the-top alligator and snake necklaces. These iconic pieces of jewelry were created for her by Cartier. But did you know that she was the one who came up with the idea for the design and then approached the luxury brand to design them?


Diego Rivera Was in Love With Her

Photo: NeoMexicanismos/Tumblr

We will forever link Diego Rivera with his wife Frida Kahlo, but apparently, he once held a torch for María Félix. She is quoted as saying: “He loved me hopelessly for nearly ten years.” He also painted a portrait of the star, which Félix admitted that she wasn’t a fan of.


Cartier Created a Collection in Her Honor

Remember we mentioned that María Félix commissioned Cartier to design the luxurious, gold and gemstone-encrusted alligator and snake jewelry? Well, Cartier paid homage to the Mexican star in 2006 with their La Doña de Cartier collection. These iconic pieces of jewelry served as inspiration for the luxury brand’s newer offerings.


She Died on the Same Day She Was Born

María Félix was known to be tough, bold, and stubborn. She lived her life, her way, and even died on the same day (obviously not the same year) she was born, which was April 8. The Mexican actress was born on April 8, 1914, and died on April 8, 2002. She died at her home in Mexico City and was 87.


Google Celebrated Her with a Google Doodle

Photo: Google

We love when Google Doodles, those cool little artistic sketches the company creates to pay homage to a notable person, are made for Latinxs. Last year, Google drew a great doodle of María Félix, to celebrate what would have been the Mexican legend’s 104th birthday. Latinxs everywhere rejoiced. How on point is this illustration though? It looks exactly like her!


María Félix Starred in Mexican Cinema’s Second Color Film

The next fun fact we want to share about María Félix is that she held the honor of starring in the second ever, color film in Mexican cinema history. It was 1943’s La china poblana, and although there is artwork for the film and photos on the internet, the film itself is said to be lost.


María Félix Often Played the Woman With Bad Morals

María Félix starred in several films in which she played bad women with questionable morals. These include Doña Barbara, La Devoradora, and Mujer sin alma (which translates to a woman without a soul). Maria is noted as saying: “With these films, I became the number one enemy of Mexican family morals.”


María Félix Made Films in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and France

Although María Félixshunned Hollywood, her movie career wasn’t just limited to Mexico. In addition to filming there, she also made films in countries such as Argentina, France, Spain, and Italy. In France, for example, Felix made French Cancan (1954), Les Héros sont Fatigués (1955), and La Belle Otero (1954).


María Félix Turned Down Many Major Roles


María Félix didn’t jump at every film role that was offered to her. She chose the projects she wanted to work on and walked away from the rest. According to Wikipedia, she turned down roles to star in Duel in the Sun (which went to Jennifer Jones), The Legend of Lylah Clare (which went to Kim Novak) and The Barefoot Contessa (which went to Ava Gardner).


Artists Paid Homage to Her

We mentioned previously how the iconic Mexican artist Diego Rivera painted María Félix (he also did a charcoal portrait of the star), but he wasn’t the only artist that Felix modeled for. She also served as model and muse for several other painters, including Leonora Carrington, Antoine Tzapoff, and Jose Clemente Orozco.


Several Songs Were Written About María Félix

Continuing on how María Félix served as a muse for artists, she also inspired songwriters. Songs written about the Mexican star include, “Maria Bonita” by her ex-husband Agustin Lara, “Maria de todas las Marías” by Juan Gabriel, “Ella” by Jose Alfredo Jimenez. The song “Je l’aime a mourir” started off as a poem about Maria by Francis Cabrel and became the song “La quiero a morir.”


María Félix Was Also Known For Her Style

María Félix was just as known for her unique fashion sense as her acting. She believed in a more-is-more aesthetic, piling on beautiful jewelry, donning dramatic hats, and adding the drama she brought to her roles, to her many fabulous style looks. Ralph and Russo recently used La Doña as inspiration for their Couture Spring-Summer 2019 collection.


She Was Encouraged to Use Another Name

María Félix sounds like the name of a star, but did you know that when she first started acting, she was encouraged to use another name? According to the Mexico website, film producers wanted to use the name Marcia Maris, or Diana del Mar. In true  María Félix fashion, she refused, wanting to use her full name (María de Los Angeles Félix, but she agreed to shorten it to  María Félix).

María Félix Won 3 Ariel Awards

The Ariel Awards, given out by the Academia Mexicana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematograficas (AMACC), are widely regarded as Mexico’s version of the Academy Awards. Winning an Ariel is the highest honor an actor can earn in Mexico.  María Félix received three Ariels, for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, during her illustrious career.


Her Last Film and Acting Role

María Félix’s final acting roles took place during 1970 and 1971. There was the telenovela La constitución, the film La Generala, and the novela Cristina. You can find video clips of these projects, along with some of her other films online.

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