Sara Montiel

María Antonia Abad Fernández MML (10 March 1928 – 8 April 2013), known professionally as Sara Montiel, was a Spanish singer and actress.

Sara Montiel

Montiel in 1955
María Antonia Alejandra Vicenta Elpidia Isidora Abad Fernández

(1928-03-10)10 March 1928
Died8 April 2013(2013-04-08) (aged 85)
Madrid, Spain
  • Spain
  • Mexico
  • Singer
  • actress
Years active1943–2013
  • Anthony Mann
    (m. 1957; div. 1963)
  • José Vicente Ramírez Olalla
    (m. 1964; div. 1970)
  • José Tous Barberán
    (m. 1979; died 1992)
  • Antonio Hernández
    (m. 2002; div. 2005)

Montiel was born in Campo de Criptana in the region of Castile–La Mancha in 1928. She worked in Europe, Latin America and United States. Her films The Last Torch Song and The Violet Seller netted the highest gross revenues ever recorded for films made in the Spanish-speaking movie industry during the 1950s/60s. Montiel's film Variety was banned in Beijing in 1973. She played the role of Antonia, the niece of Don Quixote, in the 1947 Spanish film version of Cervantes's novel.

She was portrayed in the Pedro Almodóvar film Bad Education by a male actor in drag (Gael García Bernal) as the cross-dressing character Zahara, and a film clip from one of her movies was used, as well.

Acting career

Montiel started in movies at 15 in her native Spain where she filmed her first movie playing an Islamic princess in the 1948 film Madness for Love, released in the U.S. as The Mad Queen. Later worked in Mexico, starring in a dozen films in less than five years. Hollywood came calling afterwards, and she was introduced to United States moviegoers in the film Vera Cruz (1954), directed by Robert Aldrich. She was offered the standard seven-year contract at Columbia Pictures, which she refused, afraid of Hollywood's typecasting policies for Hispanics. Instead she freelanced at Warner Bros. in Serenade (1956), directed by Anthony Mann, and at RKO in Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow (1957).

After The Last Torch Song (1957), she combined filming, recording songs in five languages and performing live. Almost all of her films earned high box office results. Among the films during the 1960s and early 1970s were The Violet Seller (1958), Carmen, la de Ronda (1959), Mi Último Tango (1960), Pecado de Amor (1961), La Bella Lola (a 1962 version of Camille), Casablanca, Nid d'espions (1963), Samba (1964), La Femme Perdue (1966), Tuset Street (1967), Esa Mujer (1969), Varietes (1971) and others. By then she had become dissatisfied with the movie industry when producers started offering her erotic roles in comedy films. In 1974, Montiel announced her retirement from movies but continued performing live, recording and starring on her own variety television shows in Spain.[1]

In November 2009, the performer Alaska, from the Spanish pop group Fangoria, invited Montiel to record a track sharing vocals with her for the re-release of the band's album Absolutamente. They recorded the title track "Absolutamente" as a duet. The music video for the song was released on December 18, 2009.[2] She had no plans to retire, and in May 2011, after almost 40 years without making a movie, she performed in a feature film directed by Óscar Parra de Carrizosa. The film title is Abrázame and was shot on location in La Mancha.

Personal information

Montiel was born María Antonia Abad Fernández (complete name María Antonia Alejandra Vicenta Elpidia Isidora Abad Fernández) in 1928 in Campo de Criptana (Ciudad Real), Spain. She entered films after winning a beauty and talent contest at age 15. In her first movie, she was credited as "María Alejandra" a shortened version of her real name. For her next film, she changed her name to Sara, after her grandmother, and Montiel after the Montiel fields in the Castile–La Mancha region of her birth. She was married four times:

  • Anthony Mann (American actor, film director); 1957-1963 (divorced)
  • José Vicente Ramírez Olalla (attorney); 1964-1978 (annulled)
  • José Tous Barberán (attorney, journalist); 1979-1992 (Tous's death); this union produced two adopted children: Thais (born 1979) and José Zeus (born 1983)[3]
  • Antonio Hernández (Cuban videotape operator); 2002-2005 (divorced)

In 2000, Montiel published her autobiography Memories: To Live Is a Pleasure, an instant best seller with 10 editions to date. A sequel Sara and Sex followed in 2003. In these books, Montiel revealed other relationships in her past, including one-night stands with writer Ernest Hemingway as well as actor James Dean. She also claimed a long-term affair in the 1940s with playwright Miguel Mihura and mentioned that science wizard Severo Ochoa, a Nobel Prize winner, was the true love of her life.

Montiel died in 2013 at her home in Madrid at the age of 85 from congestive heart failure.[4]


Year Title Role Country Notes
1943 Te Quiero Para Mí Ana María Spain Credited as "María Alejandra"
1944 Empezó en Boda Spain
1945 Bambú Yoyita, hija del gobernador Spain
1945 Se le Fue el Novio Spain
1945 El Misterioso Viajero del Clipper Cristina Gutiérrez Spain
1946 Por el Gran Premio Spain
1946 Mariona Rebull Lula Spain
1947 Don Quixote Antonia Spain Released in the U.S. in 1949
1947 Alhucemas María Luisa Pereira Spain
1948 Confidencia Elena Spain
1948 Madness for Love Aldara Spain Released in the U.S. in 1949 as The Mad Queen
1948 La Mies es Mucha Guyerati Spain
1949 Vidas Confusas Spain
1950 Pequeñeces... Monique Spain
1951 Women's Prison Dora Mexico
1951 Red Fury María Stevens Mexico / United States Stronghold is its English version with Veronica Lake in Montiel's part
1951 Captain Poison Angustias Spain
1952 Necesito Dinero María Teresa Mexico
1952 Here Comes Martin Corona Rosario Mexico
1952 El Enamorado / Vuelve Martín Corona Rosario Mexico
1953 She, Lucifer and I Isabel Mexico
1953 That Man from Tangier Aixa Spain / United States
1953 Cinnamon Skin Marucha Mexico / Cuba
1953 Yo soy gallo dondequiera Rosalia Mexico
1953 Reportaje Mexico She does not appear in the final cut
1954 Porque Ya No Me Quieres Rosaura Moreno / Lilia Mexico
1954 Se solicitan modelos Rosina Mexico
1954 Vera Cruz Nina United States
1955 Frente al Pecado de Ayer / Cuando se Quiere de Veras Lucecita Mexico / Cuba
1955 Yo no Creo en los Hombres María Caridad Robledo Mexico / Cuba
1956 Serenade Juana Montes United States
1956 Where the Circle Ends Isabel Mexico Circle of Death in the U.S.
1957 The Last Torch Song Maria Luján Spain
1957 Run of the Arrow Yellow Moccasin United States
1958 The Violet Seller Soledad Moreno Spain
1959 A Girl Against Napoleon Carmen Spain The Devil Made a Woman in the U.S. and U.K.
1960 My Last Tango Marta Andreu Spain
1961 Pecado de Amor Magda Beltrán / Sor Belén Spain
1962 The Lovely Lola Lola Spain
1962 Queen of The Chantecler La Bella Charito Spain
1963 Casablanca, Nest of Spies Teresa Vilar Spain
1965 Samba Belén / Laura Monteiro Spain / Brazil
1965 La dama de Beirut Isabel Llanos Spain
1966 The Lost Woman Sara Fernán Spain
1967 Tuset Street Violeta Riscal Spain
1969 Esa Mujer Soledad Romero Fuentes Spain
1971 La casa de los Martínez
1971 Variety Ana Marqués Spain
1974 Cinco Almohadas para una Noche Rosa López / Ana Spain
1996 Asaltar los Cielos Herself Spain Documental
2002 Sara Una Estrella Herself Spain Documental
2002 Machin, Toda Una Vida Herself Spain Documental
2003 A Thousand Clouds of Peace Spain Montiel's recording of "Nena" used as theme song
2004 Bad Education Spain Features a couple of Montiel's songs and film clips
2011 Abrázame Sara Montiel Spain (final film role)


  • Sara Montiel en Mexico
  • Canciones de la Película "El Último Cuple" - London 5409
  • La Violetera - Columbia - EX 5056
  • Baile con Sara Montiel
  • Carmen la de Ronda - Columbia EX 5020
  • Besos de Fuego
  • Mi Último Tango - Columbia EX 5048
  • El Tango
  • Pecado de Amor - Columbia EX 5092
  • La Bella Lola
  • Noches De Casablanca
  • Samba
  • La Dama de Beirut
  • Canta Sarita Montiel
  • Esa Mujer
  • Sara
  • Varietés
  • Sara... Hoy
  • Saritisima
  • Anoche con Sara
  • Purisimo Sara
  • Sara De Cine
  • Sara A Flor de Piel
  • Amados Mios
  • Todas Las Noches A Las Once
  • Sara Montiel La Diva
  • Sara Montiel La Leyenda
  • Besame - Columbia EX 5077 (1962)
  • Songs From The Film Besame - Columbia EX 5135


  • Gold Medal of Merit in Labour (Kingdom of Spain, 5 December 2008).[5]


  • 2012 - "Reina de la Belleza Honorífica".[6]


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