María de los Ángeles Félix(8 April 1914 – 8 April 2002) was a Mexican film actress and singer. Along with Pedro Armendáriz and Dolores del Río, she was one of the most successful figures of Latin American cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. Considered one of the most beautiful actresses of Mexican cinema, her taste for the finesse and strong personality garnered her the title of diva early in her career. She was known as La Doña, a name derived from her character in the film Doña Bárbara (1943), and María Bonita, thanks to the anthem composed exclusively for her, as a wedding gift by her second husband, the Mexican composer Agustín Lara. She completed a film career that included 47 films made in Mexico, Spain, France, Italy and Argentina
María de los Angeles Félix Güereña was born in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico on 8 April 1913.
She was the daughter of a military officer and had fifteen siblings.
She spent her childhood in Álamos but the Félix family moved later to Guadalajara. When María was 17, her beauty began to attract attention. She was crowned Beauty Queen at the University of Guadalajara. It was at this time that she met Enrique Álvarez Alatorre, a salesman for the cosmetics firm Max Factor. After a brief romance, the couple married in 1931. In 1935, Félix gave birth to her only child, Enrique, nicknamed Quique. Her marriage with Álvarez was unsuccessful and the couple divorced in 1937. After her divorce, Félix returned to Guadalajara with her family, where she was the subject of gossip and rumors due to her status as a divorcée. Because of this situation, Félix decided to move to Mexico City with her son.
When I want to, it will be through the big door."
In Mexico City, María Félix worked as a receptionist in a plastic surgeon's office, and one afternoon after work when walking down the street, director and filmmaker Fernando Palacios approached her and later persuaded her to break into the movies.
Becoming her Pygmalion, Palacios began to train her and present her in film circles. She made her first appearance in the White and Black Ballroom of the Mexico City Country Club where some of the great Mexican movie stars of the era (Esther Fernández, Lupe Vélez, Andrea Palma) gathered.
Eventually she was taken to Hollywood, to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, where she met Cecil B. DeMille, who offered to launch her film career in Hollywood, but Félix was not interested. She preferred to begin her career in her own country. And throughout her filming career, Félix has declined some of the most famous female roles Holloywood offered her: the female role of Duel in the Sun, which went to Jennifer Jones; the female lead in film The Barefoot Contessa with Humphrey Bogart which later was played by Ava Gardner.
Maria Félix was known as La Doña for her role in the movie Doña Bárbara (1943), based on the like-named novel by the Venezuelan writer Rómulo Gallegos. For the film, another actress (Isabela Corona) was already hired, but when Gallegos first saw Félix, he was charmed by her and said: "Here is my Doña Bárbara!".
In 1945 Maria Félix married famous Mexican composer Agustín Lara after a highly publicized relationship. Lara immortalized Félix in a number of songs, such as "Humo en los ojos" ("Smoke in the eyes"), "Cuando vuelvas" ("When you come back"), "Dos puñales" ("Two daggers"), "Madrid" and especially the famous theme "María Bonita", composed in Acapulco during their honeymoon. "María Bonita" would become one of Lara's most popular Lara songs. However, the relationship ended in 1947 due to Lara's jealousy. Félix said that Lara even tried to kill her in a fit of violent jealousy.
In 1948 she was contracted by the Spanish film producer Cesáreo González and thus María Félix began her film adventure in Europe with the film Mare Nostrum (1948), directed by Rafael Gil.
In 1952, Félix returned to Mexico and concluded her working relationship with Cesáreo González with the film Camelia filmed in her native country.
After her second divorce from Agustín Lara, Maria Félix had romances with some well-known men, including her "old enemy": the actor and singer Jorge Negrete. Unlike their difficult first meeting ten years ago on the set of El peñón de las ánimas, Félix found Negrete, in her own words: "surrendered to my feet". After a brief romance, the couple married in 1953.
Unfortunately Negrete was already ill when the marriage took place. Negrete died eleven months later at a hospital in Los Angeles, California, while Félix was in Europe shooting La Belle Otero. Félix's appearance at his funeral, dressed in trousers, caused a huge scandal, which led Félix to take refuge in Europe. And the most important film of Félix in this period was French Cancan (1954) directed by Jean Renoir with the legendary French actor Jean Gabin.
Félix returned to Mexico in 1955.
In 1956, Maria Félix married the Romanian-born French banker Alexander Berger This marriage lasted for 18 years, and she built her famous home, La Casa de las Tortugas (The House of Turtles), designed by Pepe Mendoza and resembling an Italian villa, in Cuernavaca.
In her prime times, Maria Félix was dressed by designers like Christian Dior, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Balenciaga. The House of Hermès (Couture Department) designed extravagant creations just for her. She also liked to collect fine antiques, favoring pieces like her famous collection of Second French Empire furniture.
In the 1960s Félix's presence in the cinema was limited to only a few films. In 1970 she filmed La Generala, which would be her last film. The Mexican historical telenovela La Constitución (1971) would be her last professional acting job.
Berger died in 1974 of lung cancer months after the death of María's mother, which plunged her into a deep depression. To overcome this depression, she developed a new passion: horses. Some of her horses won major international equestrian awards.
Félix attempted to return to the cinema twice. First, in 1982, with the film Toña Machetes, and again in 1986 with the film Insólito resplandor. Neither project crystallized, and Félix never reappeared in film.
With Dolores I had no rivalry. On the contrary, we were friends and always treated each other with great respect, each with our own personality. We were completely different. She was refined, interesting, gentle on the deal, and I'm energetic, arrogant and bossy."
Maria Félix's last romantic relationship was the Russian-French painter Antoine Tzapoff. About him, Félix said: "I don't know if he's the man who has most loved me, but he's who has loved me better."
María Félix died in her sleep on 8 April 2002, her 88th birthday in Mexico City. She was buried in her family's tomb alongside her son Enrique and her parents at Panteón Francés in Mexico City. In 2018, Google celebrated Felix's 104th birthday with a Google Doodle
Maria Félix and Cartier
Maria Félix was a jewelry connoisseur and had an extensive jewelry collection, including the 41.37 carat (8.274 g), D-flawless Ashoka diamond, and she had a very close relationship with Cartier.
In 1968, she commissioned a serpent diamond necklace from Cartier Paris. The result was a completely articulated serpent made out of platinum and white goldand encrusted with 178.21 carats (35.642 g) of diamonds.
In 1975, Maria Félix again asked Cartier to create a necklace for her, this time in the shape of two crocodiles. The two crocodile bodies were made of 524.9 grams of gold, one covered with 1,023 yellow diamonds, while the other was adorned with 1,060 circular cut emeralds. Later she sold most of her jewelry back to Cartier's. She also left a Rolls Royce in Paris.
Since Félix's death, these jewelry pieces have been displayed as part of The Art of Cartier Collection in several museums around the world. To pay tribute to the actress, in 2006 Cartier debuted its La Doña de Cartier collection. The La Doña de Cartier watch with reptilian links was created to impress by its wild look. The case of the La Doña de Cartier features a trapezoid shape with an asymmetrical profile reminiscent of a crocodile's head. The wristband of the watch resembles the contours of a crocodile in large, bold and gold scales. The La Doña de Cartier Collection also includes jewelry, accessories, and handbags.