Maria Montez (June 6, 1912 – September 7, 1951) was a Dominican Republic-born motion picture actress who gained fame and popularity in the 1940s as an exotic beauty starring in a series of filmed-in-Technicolor costume adventure films. Her screen image was that of a hot-blooded Latin seductress, dressed in fanciful costumes and sparkling jewels. She became so identified with these adventure epics that she became known as "The Queen of Technicolor." Over her career, Montez appeared in 26 films, 21 of which were made in North America and five in Europe.
Her beauty soon made her the centerpiece of Universal's Technicolor costume adventures, notably the six in which she was teamed with Jon Hall —Arabian Nights (1942), White Savage (1943), Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944), Cobra Woman (1944), Gypsy Wildcat (1944), and Sudan (1945). Montez also appeared in the Technicolor western Pirates of Monterey (1947) with Rod Cameron and the sepia-toned swashbuckler The Exile (1948), directed by Max Ophüls and starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
While working in Hollywood, she met and married French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont, who had to leave a few days after their wedding to serve in theFree French Forces fighting against Nazi Germany in the European Theatre of World War II. At the end of World War II, the couple had a daughter, Maria Christina (also known as Tina Aumont), born in Hollywood in 1946. They then moved to a home in Suresnes, Île-de-France in the western suburb of Paris under the French Fourth Republic. There, Montez appeared in several films and a play written by her husband. She also wrote three books, two of which were published, as well as penning a number of poems.
The 39-year-old Montez died in Suresnes, France on September 7, 1951 after apparently suffering a heart attack and drowning in her bath. She was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris where her tombstone gives her amended year of birth (1918), not the actual year of birth (1912).
Legacy and afterdeath
Shortly after her death, a street in the city of Barahona, Montez's birthplace, was named in her honor.
In 1976 Margarita Vicens de Morales publishes a series of articles in the Dominican newspaper Listin Diario, in its magazine called Suplemento, where she presented the results of the research she was carrying out in order to get to the real life story of Maria Montez, which leads her to visit the various sources in different countries where the eminent Dominican actress María Montez lived and acted, culminating that research in 1992 with the publication of the biography "Maria Montez, Su Vida". After the first edition, a second edition was published in 1994 and a third in 2004. A special edition is being prepared pursuant to the centenary of the birth of the eminent Dominican actress Maria Montez (please find as follows covers the three editions).
In 1995 Maria Montez is awarded the International Posthumous Cassandra, which was received by Tina Aumont (her only daughter) from the hands of the Dominican biographer of Maria Montez, Licda. Margarita Vicens who acted on behalf of ACROARTE, and was accompanied by the Dominican Film Director Jean Louis Jorge. At the request of Maria Montez Widower Jean Pierre Aumont, Margarita Vicens and her husband, Dr. Manuel Morales Lama accompanied him to view the collection of pictures, posters, and documents of Maria Montez, which were exhibited in the event. This collection belongs to Margarita Vicens de Morales. They also gave him as a special delivery the second edition of the book Maria Montez Su Vida by Margarita Vicens de Morales, which is illustrated with more than 300 pictures, most of them published for the first time, authentic documents and posters.
In 1996, the city of Barahona opened the Aeropuerto Internacional María Montez (María Montez International Airport) in her honor.
The American underground filmmaker Jack Smith idolized Montez as an icon of camp style. Among his acts of devotion, he wrote an aesthetic manifesto titled "The Perfect Filmic Appositeness of Maria Montez", referred to her as "The Wonderful One" or "The Marvelous One", and made elaborate homages to her movies in his own films, including the notorious Flaming Creatures.