Biographical Dictionary of Mexican Film Performers

"B"

Bach, Christián: sophisticated blonde actress of the '80s and '90s, married to actor Humberto Zurita, with whom she now produces films, plays, and telenovelas. Of Argentine descent.

Badú, Antonio (1914 or '15? -1993): Singer/actor of Lebanese descent who had a long and varied career. Made his film debut in 1938 and received his first starring role in 1940; for the next few years alternated roles in "rural" and "urban" films, but at the end of the decade suddenly became popular as a slick gangster villain in films like Hipócrita ('49) and Vagabunda ('50). Nominated for the Best Male Co-Star Ariel for Me he de comer esa tuna ('44), and won the Best Starring Actor prize for Cantaclaro ('45). In later years made only sporadic film appearances but was active on TV. At one time married to Esther Fernández.

Baena, Carlos (1930--): rather bland Spanish actor who had a brief run of popularity as a young leading man and "male ingenue" from the mid-1950s through 1960. Nominated for a Best Starring Actor Ariel for his most famous role in Adán y Eva (1956).

Baledón, Rafael (1919-1994 or '95?): handsome leading man of the 1940s whose acting career continued into the '90s. Married to Lilia Michel, with whom he appeared in a number of pictures, including Sí, mi vida ('52). Baledón began directing and occasionally producing films in the 1950s, and earned a reputation as a fast, economical worker. One of his final acting roles was in the telenovela "Prisionera de amor" (1995).

Ballasteros, Roberto: TV and film actor of the '80s and '90s. Particularly adept at playing psychotic villains, but also satisfactory in character roles and the occasional sympathetic part.

Balzaretti, Fernando (1945 or '50?-1998): young actor who had a few substantial (i.e., leads or second leads) film roles in the early '70s; now a middle-aged character actor, often in telenovelas. Nominated for Best Actor for Días difíciles ('87), didn't win but won Best Male Co-Star that same year for Muelle rojo; nominated for Best Male Co-Star for Kino ('93). In early 1998, he suffered a serious illness and died after being in a coma for several months.

Bamberg, David T. "Fu Man Chu" (1904-1984): British-born stage magician of Dutch descent. Began appearing on stage in Chinese makeup as "Fu Man Chu" in Argentina in the late 1920s; one of the most popular magicians in Latin America, came to Mexico in 1935, where he repeated his stage success and also hosted several radio series. Beginning in 1943, made 6 films--some of which he also wrote--playing a magician-detective. Returned to Argentina in the late 1950s, where he lived until his death.

Banquells, Rafael (1917-1990): the Cuban-born Banquells (his parents were Spanish) was on screen from the early 1940s, usually-- even when young--in character roles, with occasional character leads, as in Gutierritos ('59). Also very prolific stage actor, director and impresario. At one time married to actress Blanca de Castejón, then Silvia Pinal (their daughter is actress Silvia Pasquel), and later to actress Dina de Marco. His brother Roberto Banquells had a minor film career in the '30s-'40s, and Rafael Banquells Jr. appeared in a fair number of films as a child in the 1950s (including Ensayo de un crimen).

Barahona, Karla: brunette actress, chiefly female leads and second leads in direct-to-video features of the '90s.

Barba, Mercedes "Meche" [Mercedes Barba Feito](1922-2000): dancer/actress who was one of the mainstays of the cabaretera genre, often teamed with Fernando Fernández, she came to film from the variety theatre, and made her screen debut in 1943. Popular from the late '40s through 1953, then suddenly: "they froze me out. I still don't know why." Returned to films and television in the late 1980s. Won an Ariel Award as Best Female Co-Star for Los años de Greta (1992). Meche Barba died of complications from emphysema in January 2000.

Barreiro, Luis G. (1886-1947): character actor, often in fussy comedy roles as a male secretary, bank official, lawyer, etc., from the early 1930s until his death. Credits include the classic El compadre Mendoza ('33).

Barrera, René: balding stunt man and bit player, frequently seen in films from the '50s through the '70s in small parts, mostly as villainous henchmen.

Barret, Carolina (1926-?): Veracruz-born character actress, occasionally the "other woman" in her younger days, on-screen from 1937 through the '70s. Won the Best Supporting Actress Ariel for Canaima ('45) and another for Espaldas mojadas ('53); nominated for Best Female Co-Star for Calzonzín inspector ('73).

Barrios, Sergio: character actor (occasional second leads when young), from the 1950s on. Still active in supporting roles in "videohomes" of the '90s.

Barron, Wally (1930-1992): (aka Alfredo W. Barron) Portly, moustachioed character actor, almost always in villainous roles, from the late 1950s into the 1990s. Excelled at playing oily entrepreneurs, crooked politicians, and so on. Born in Tamaulipas.

Baumann, Erna Martha: statuesque blonde actress, 1956's "Miss Mexico," on screen from the late 1950s into the early 1960s, then off-screen until the end of the decade, when she re-appeared for a few films. Also worked on the stage in "serious" dramas like "Othello" and "Becket," and even fronted a dance band and appeared in cabarets! Notable in El mundo de los vampiros ('60), Invasión de los vampiros and El vampiro sangriento ('61).

Baur, Esperanza (?--1954): (Esperanza Baur Díaz Ceballos) actress who had leads or second leads in some 1930s films: Jalisco nunca pierde! ('37), for instance. Met John Wayne in 1941, married him in 1946 (the second marriage for both); they were divorced in 1953. She died of a heart attack the following year.

Baviera, José (1906, '07, or '10? -1981): A trivia question: who played "Sherlock Holmes" in a Mexican film? José Baviera (in Arsenio Lupín, 1945). Leaving a stellar film career as a leading man in his native Spain, Baviera emigrated to Mexico after the Spanish Civil War. In his new home, he specialized in playing solid authority figures from the 1940s through the 1960s. Directed a few films outside of Mexico in the 1950s, since he couldn't get into the director's union; was also quite active on the stage, as actor, director, and producer. Won the Best Male Co-Star Ariel for La barraca ('44).

[Bayona Sarriá, Pilar and Aurora] "Pili y Mili" (1947--): the perky blonde Spanish (from Aragón) teenagers Pili and Mili, along with Joselito, Rocío Durcal, Marisol, and others, were part of the "youth movement" in Spanish cinema of the early '60s. The plots of Pili and Mili's films were predicated on the fact that they were identical twins--their first picture was entitled Como dos gotas de agua (Like Two Drops of Water, 1963). After a few pictures in Spain, the sisters came to Mexico in 1966 and co- starred in 4 films (plus one more in Spain) before Mili got married and retired from show business. Pili continued to work on stage and in films in Mexico, at least through 1974.

Beatriz Adriana [Beatriz Adriana Flores] (1949--): attractive, spunky brunette ranchera-norteña singer and actress, born in Sonora. She came to Mexico City from Tijuana in the early '70s; made more than a dozen films between 1977 and 1983, then disappeared from the screen for the rest of the decade, returning for several "videohomes" in the early '90s. She was formerly married to the (ex) lead singer of "Los Bukis," Marco Antonio Solís. Returned to performing in 1999 after an absence of a few years, but in 2000 she announced her retirement after the tragic death of her son.

Bedoya, Alfonso (1900 or '04? -1957): [also spelled "Bedolla"] character actor, often in comic sidekick and comic villain roles, on screen from the 1930s. Educated for a time in Texas, Bedoya spoke English and also appeared in a number of Hollywood films, including a memorable role as bandit "Gold Hat" ("Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!") in Treasure of the Sierra Madre ('48). Nominated for Best Supporting Actor Ariel for Canaima ('45).

Beirute, Yerye [Hermes Yerye Beirute] (1928-1972): Costa Rican-born character actor, usually seen as brutish henchmen in films of the 1950s-1970s, although he was promoted to chief mad scientist in La casa del terror ('59). Sometimes billed as "Jorge" Beirute.

Beltrán, Lola (1929-1996): singer/actress who was one of the major performers of "folkloric" (ranchera) music, and was the first "popular" singer to appear in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Born in the state of Sinaloa, she got her big break via Mexico City's famous radio station XEW, on the show "Así es mi tierra" in 1953. Film roles followed, and Beltrán was on screen frequently through the late '50s and the 1960s, often in rancheras, but occasionally played straight (non-singing) roles. She was married for a time to bullfighter/actor Alfredo Leal. Beltrán had continued to perform publicly and make recordings until her death of a pulmonary embolism, several weeks after suffering a heart attack.

Benavides, Arturo (1936-1997): pudgy-faced character actor who got his start in radionovelas of the 1950s and 1960s. Benavides repeated his radio and TV role from the series "Chucho el Roto" in four films for Alfredo Zacarías in '69, his film debut. He continued to work in TV, films, and stage plays into the '90s.

Bendayán, Amador: diminutive Venezuelan comic actor, brought to Mexico in the 1960s to appear in comedies--including Si yo fuera millonario ('62, with María Félix)--in order to broaden their appeal in his home country. He had been in the occasional Venezuelan film as early as 1950, but was still extremely youthful in appearance even into the early '70s. There is a street in Caracas named in his honor.

Benedico, Augusto [Augusto Pérez Lías] (1909-1992): dignified character actor in films and TV from the '50s through the '80s. Often played fathers, priests, doctors, etc. Cast as the kindly school caretaker on the TV series "Carrusel." Born in Alicante, Spain.

Beristáin, Arturo (1952 or '53? --): son of Luis Beristáin, as a young man had "sensitive" roles in a number of 1970s dramas. Won the Best Male Co-Star Ariel for El castillo de la pureza ('72); later nominated as Best Male Co-Star for La otra virginidad ('74).

Beristáin, Dolores: middle-aged character actress in a number of "serious" films of the '80s and '90s, for example El secreto de Romelia ('88) for which she won the Best Female Co-Star Ariel, and Hasta morir ('93), for which she received a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

Beristáin, Leopoldo (1875-1948): comedian of the '20s and '30s, specialized in playing blustering ranchera types. Made some film appearances in the 1930s, but chiefly worked in the variety theatre, where he was nicknamed "El Cuatezón.".

Beristáin, Luis (1918 or '19? -1962): handsome leading man of the 1940s who moved into more mature roles in the '50s. Born in Mexico City, Beristáin was an accountant before he turned to acting. He made his film debut in La selva de fuego ('45). Beristáin also worked frequently on TV and in the theater; died of a heart attack. He was married three times; his son Arturo (c.f.) later became an actor.

Bernal, Agustín: lantern-jawed, muscular villain from the late 1980s to the present, chiefly in direct-to-video action films. Has occasionally played sympathetic roles and even directed.

Bernal, Farnesio de (1926--): slight, balding character actor from the '60s to the present, vaguely resembles a thin Donald Pleasance. Shared the Best Supporting Actor Ariel for La mujer de Benjamín ('90), and was also nominated for El patrullero ('91)

Bernal, Juan Manuel: young actor of the '90s, on TV and in "new cinema" like Hasta morir ('93).

Bernal, Rosenda [occasionally spelled "Rozenda"]: ranchera singer and actress, on screen from the 1970s into the '90s, including some action films.

Bertrand, Rafael (1917-1983): handsome Cuban actor, occasional leading man or second lead in Mexican films of the 1950s and 1960s.

"Beto el Boticario": see Ramírez, Roberto

Bichir brothers: although they haven't reached the status of the Soler brothers, the three Bichir brothers have had a significant impact in Mexican film, television and theater of the '90s---

Blanch, Anita [Ana Blanch Ruiz] (1910-1983): popular, Spanish-born stage actress who moved to films in the 1940s; played mostly character roles as long-suffering mothers, nuns, etc., into the 1970s. Nominated for a Best Actress Ariel for La barraca ('44), and received Best Female Co-Star Ariel nominations for Los días del amor ('71), Presagio ('74) Her sister Isabelita Blanch (1906-1985) was also an actress but did not have an extensive film career.

Blanco, Victorio (1897-1977): hatchet-faced character actor who appeared in a huge number of films from the 1930s through the late 1970s. In later years, distinguished by his bushy white beard. His daughter, Victoria Blanco, was a leading actress in a number of 1930s films.

Blue Demon ( 1922? or 1926?-2000): real name, Alejandro Muñoz. Former railway employee from Monterrey who became a professional wrestler in the 1950s, and was contracted in the mid-1960s to appear in films. Featured star in a number of pictures, also frequently teamed with other masked wrestlers, including El Santo, Mil Máscaras, Superzán, and others. His son wrestles professionally as "Blue Demon Jr."

Blume, Ricardo: Peruvian actor who starred in a few Mexican films of the early '70s such as Los enamorados ('71); also on the stage and in telenovelas.

Bohr, José "Che": see DIRECTORS

Bolkan, Edna: cute but shrewd-appearing actress, on screen from the 1980s, often in supporting roles as the "other woman" or "bad girl," or an early victim of a killer, rather than in sympathetic leading parts.

Bonet, Alicia (1947--): 1960s ingenue, married to actor Juan Ferrara, then to Claudio Brook. She had 6 children (2 by Ferrara, 4 by Brook), and was effectively retired while they were growing up. After the death of Brook she went back to work in TV.

Bonilla, Héctor (1939--): reliable actor, on-screen from the late 1960s to the present. Won Best Actor Arieles for Meridiano 100 ('74) and Rojo amanecer ('89); also nominated for Matinee ('76), Bloody Marlene ('77). Has directed on TV. His first wife was actress Socorro Bonilla.

Bono, César: slim, nerdy-looking comedian, from TV. In cinema, plays mostly second-banana roles in "sexy comedies," like Dos nacos en el planeta de las mujeres ('89).

Borolas (1922-1993): [Joaquín García Vargas] Diminutive comic actor. Born in Morelia in the state of Michoacán, Borolas worked in carpas and the variety theatre before making his screen debut in 1949. Popular in films as a supporting comedian, appearing with Cantinflas, Tin Tan, etc. A regular on the long- running "La criada malcriada" TV series with María Victoria. Died of a heart attack.

Bracho, Carlos (1937 or '39? --): actor son of director Julio Bracho. Bracho, who graduated from the Radio/TV/Film Institute in 1961, is also well-known as a journalist, photographer, and has been active in leftist politics since the 1960s. He served as a representative in the federal assembly, and in 1980 ran (unsuccessfully) for governor of the state of Mexico.

Bracho, Diana (1944--): actress daughter of director Julio Bracho. Usually played intense young (now, more mature) women. Won the Best Female Co-Star Ariel for El castillo de la pureza ('72); nominated for Best Actress Ariel for Actas de Marusia ('75) and for Entre Pancho Villa y una mujer desnuda ('95); won Best Supporting Actress for El infierno que todos han temido ('79).

Brambila, Rocío (1961--): juvenile actress of the early '70s; nominated for the Best Female Co-Star Ariel for Muñeca reina ('71). Not to be confused with Rosalba Brambila (her sister), who was a few years older.

Brambila, Rosalba (1952--): very cute actress, on screen from the late '60s as a teenager, then continued to appear sporadically into the '80s. Notable in Alberto Isaac's El rincón de la vírgenes ('72).

Bravo, Antonio (1906-1992): Spanish emigré actor, on-screen in Mexico from about 1938. Played a variety of character roles, including a fair number of unsympathetic characters but also some priests, doctors, etc. On-screen through the '60s at least. Worked with Luis Buñuel several times.

Bravo, Juliancito: Spanish-born juvenile performer who had major roles in some Mexican films of the late 1960s and early '70s (including Las aventuras de Juliancito, '68, a version of "Tom Sawyer"), but mostly disappeared from the screen when he reached adolescence.

Bravo, Manolo (aka "Manolito" Bravo): juvenile actor of the early '70s. His brother David Bravo appeared with him in El nano ('70).

Bravo, Tony: muscular actor of the '80s and '90s, usually second leads (occasionally starring) in action films. Has also done TV work.

Bravo Sosa, Guillermo: cadaverous-looking character actor, often typecast as undertakers, hearse drivers, and in other generally depressing bits. On-screen from the '40s through the '60s.

Bravo y Fernández, Carlos: see "Carl-hillos"

Breeskin, Olga (1951--): buxom actress/dancer/violinist, in films from the early 1970s. Primarily seen on television and in nightclubs and variety theaters since 1980.

Brook, Claudio (1927?-1995): the tall, somewhat ascetic-looking Brook was born in Mexico City in 1927; he originally studied to become an accountant. Made his film debut in the mid-1950s and by the turn of the decade was receiving substantial parts in films, TV and the stage. In the mid- and late 1960s, made Westerns, comedies, and action films in Europe; also frequently called upon to appear in Hollywood films shot in Mexico. Brook's first wife was Eugenia Avendaño; then married actress Alicia Bonet. Brook won Arieles for Best Actor (for Memoriales perdidos, 1986) and Best Supporting Actor (for Esperanza, 1989), and was particularly notable as the dying millionaire in the cult vampire film, Cronos ('92). He succumbed to stomach cancer on 18 October 1995.

Buendía, Rafael: rather glum-looking ranchera singer, on- screen from about 1980. Originally in supporting roles, then promoted himself to leads (in films he produced or co-produced himself). Has also directed some of his own direct-to-video productions, usually also featuring María Elena Jasso "La Fronteriza" (his wife?) and Perlita Buendía (his daughter?).

Buenfil, Erika: somewhat anemic-looking blonde actress, started as a teen in films of the '80s like Cementario del terror ('84) and Ladrones de tumbas ('89), more recently has achieved considerable popularity in telenovelas.

Bugarini, Ramón (1932--): round-faced, rather shifty-looking actor of the 1950s-60s, mostly in supporting roles. Married to actress Marina Camacho.

Bulnes, Quintin: skinny character actor, frequently cast as sadistic and/or mentally deficient henchmen. Nominated for an Ariel (Best Incidental Actor) for Corazones de México ('45).

Busquets, Joaquín (?--1942): popular actor in 1930s films, who eventually lost his sight. His son Narciso was a child actor who returned to films as a reliable character actor in the 1960s.

Busquets, Narciso (1929-1988): after appearing in a large number of films from childhood to his teens in the 1930s and 1940s, some with his father Joaquín, Narciso Busquets disappeared from the screen during the 1950s but came back in 1960 (La sombra del caudillo) and was a popular character actor--often in villainous roles--for the next two decades. Nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Ariel for Cadena perpetua ('78).

Bustamante, Sergio (1934--): stocky character actor who slightly resembles Marlon Brando and/or Rod Steiger, often in unsympathetic roles. Made his screen debut in 1957. Won the Best Male Co-Star Ariel for El principio ('72). Has also done telenovela work.


A earlier version of this appeared in the November 1997 issue of THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN. Posted by David Wilt (dw45@umail.umd.edu). Last update: 1 Jan 2001.