Taking a Tumble….
Just prior to the virus’ arrival my favorite danzon student took a tumble, breaking her hip and leg. Shortly thereafter an actress and fellow octogenarian, Silvia Pinal, did exactly the same. The big difference was Silvia announced plans to be back on her feet and on the set within three months, a feat my dancer hasn’t achieved.
Everyone in the room talked about Silvia Pinal on the day of her fall as if she was a pal. Certainly I was only one who hadn’t heard of her which led me down a rabbit hole of one of the most interesting Mexican women of the 20th century and star of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.
Pinal achieved international recognition by starring in a famous film trilogy by director Luis Buñuel in the 1960s. In addition to film, Pinal has also excelled in other areas. She was a pioneer of musical theatre in Mexico. In addition to venturing into television, Pinal also became a senator. Her career spans over sixty years and she’s still seen on TV like Netflix’s popular House of Flowers.
Silvia mother’s bore her at 15 back in 1931. Her father was an orchestra leader and absent from her life. When 5, Silvia’s mother married a man named Pinal, 20 years her senior moving young Silvia around Mexico as he served as mayor and in other government posts.
In her teens Silvia worked as a secretary until she won her first beauty pageant leading to voice over work in radio then moving to theater and films.
Pinal achieved international acclaim through a trilogy of award-winning films by the Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Banned by both the Vatican and Spanish governments for Pinal’s nude scenes, the movies are considered her best work and some of best films ever according to the New York Times.
After her work with Buñuel, Pinal returned to the cinema with a diverse array of co-stars like Ricardo Montalbán, Anthony Quinn, Cantinflas, Burt Reynolds and Charles Bronson. Like her contemporary, Maria Felix, Pinal had opportunities in Hollywood and Broadway but refused to cut short her career in Mexico.
In 1958, Pinal produced in Mexico the theater’s first musical. As a producer, she was responsible for making the Mexican versions of the musicals A Chorus Line, Cats and La Cage aux Folles. As an actress/singer she starred in the musicals Mame, Annie Get Your Gun, Hello Dolly, Gypsy and dramas including Agnes of God.
Pinal starred in her own self-titled variety TV show in early 70s where she met her third husband, a rock star 11 years her junior. With him she had two sons in addition to the two daughters between her first two husbands. The surviving three children, and grandchildren, are all working in music, acting or modeling.
Her fourth husband led her into politics becoming a senator and, later, a leader of the Screen Actors Guild.
In addition to her marriages, at various times in her life, Pinal enjoyed romances with folks like Egyptian actor Omar Sharif and American businessman Conrad Hilton Jr, in addition to modeling for Diego Rivera.
Well, if anyone was going to get back on her feet quickly following a fall, even at pushing 90, my money is on the resilient Silvia Pinal!