When circling town from the libramiento (beltway) and passing by the Santa Julia neighborhood there is a large mural featuring many Mexican artists. One appears to be angry grandmother with some pain-inducing denture issues. She is Sara Garcia, an actress whose work spread from the silent era of Mexican cinema to telenovas with her presence visible in every store in town.
Sara Garcia made her cinematic mark, after removing 14 of her teeth, during the 1940s and 1950s playing no-nonsense but lovable grandmothers. So many grandmother roles she is still regarded as “Mexico’s Grandmother”.
Born in 1895 Sarah’s parents had ten other children but only Sara survived. By the age of ten, Sarah outlived both her parents. Following a brief teaching career as a teen Sara entered silent movies.
However, it wasn’t until she turned 30 and yanked out several of her otherwise healthy teeth that Sarah took her film career more seriously and began working continuously in the medium during Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema. Portraying grandmothers she worked alongside any actor of note in that timeframe. In an odd reversal of today’s plastic surgery it was looking older that made Sara famous.
Approaching 80, Sara García signed a commercial agreement to give her image to the factory of Chocolates Azteca, which was later bought by the Nestlé brand. Since then her image is displayed on the label of Mexico’s traditional Abuelita chocolate.
Sara died at the age of 85, having outlived her only child from a brief marriage, a daughter, by 40 years.
Garcia made her portrayal of the quintessential grandmother, with heterosexual motherhood being the core of her performances, what Mexican women identified with. Despite that, García lived throughout her life with her alleged female lover, assistant, and business manager Rosario González Cuenca. Sara was known to jest, in reference to Rosario’s name, “I am going to throw a rosary!”