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Lupita Tovar

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Other names  Lupita Kohner
Name  Lupita Tovar
Occupation  Actress
Role  Actress
Years active  1929–1945
Notable work  DraculaSanta

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Full Name  Guadalupe Natalia Tovar
Born  July 27, 1910 (age 105) (1910-07-27) Matias Romero, Oaxaca, Mexico
Parent(s)  Egidio TovarMary Tovar
Relatives  Frederick Kohner (brother‑in‑law)John Weitz (son-in-law)Paul Weitz (grandson)Chris Weitz (grandson)
Spouse  Paul Kohner (m. 1932–1988)
Children  Susan Kohner, Pancho Kohner
Great grandchildren  Jane Antonia Weitz, Sebastian Weitz
Movies  Dracula, Santa, La Voluntad del muerto, East of Borneo, Border Law
Similar People  Paul Kohner, George Melford, Susan Kohner, Antonio Moreno, Paul Weitz

Grandchildren  Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz

Died  12 November 2016 (aged 106) Los Angeles, California, U.S.

"Dracula" Actress Lupita Tovar 1910-2016 Memorial Video

Guadalupe Natalia "Lupita" Tovar (27 July 1910 – 12 November 2016) was a Mexican-American actress and centenarian best known for her starring role in the 1931 Spanish language version of Drácula, filmed in Los Angeles by Universal Pictures at night using the same sets as the Bela Lugosi version, but with a different cast and director. She also starred in the 1932 film Santa, one of the first Mexican sound films, and one of the first commercial Spanish-language sound films.


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Lupita tovar dancing in border law 1931

Early life

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Tovar was born in Matías Romero, Oaxaca, Mexico, the daughter of Egidio Tovar, who was from Tehuacán, Puebla, Mexico, and Mary Tovar (née Sullivan), who was blonde Mexican, from Matías Romero, Oaxaca, Mexico. Tovar was the oldest of nine children, though many of her siblings did not survive early childhood. Tovar grew up during the time of the Mexican Revolution and her family was very poor. She was raised in a very religious Catholic environment, and went to a school where she was taught by nuns.

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In 1918, Tovar's family moved north to Mexico City where her father worked for the National Railroad of Mexico in an administrative position.

Early career

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Tovar was discovered by documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty in Mexico City. Tovar had performed in a dance class and was invited, along with other girls, to do a screen test as part of a competition. Tovar won first place. The prize was a 6-month probation period, followed by a 7-year contract at $150/week, to Fox Studios. The studio had realized they could make money by simultaneously shooting Spanish-language movies of English language studio productions, so had been casting for Spanish stars. She moved to Hollywood in November 1928 with her maternal grandmother, Lucy Sullivan.

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Tovar, under contract, was required to study intensively to enhance her skills for films. Her weekly schedule included guitar, two hours four days; Spanish dances, one hour three days; dramatics, one-half hour two days; and English, one hour every day. Her accent was considered an asset in talking motion pictures. Her English improved significantly in just seven months from the time she arrived in Hollywood in January 1929, when she could not say "good morning" in English. To improve her English, she attended talkies; she also learned new words and how to say them by reading voraciously. In 1929, Tovar appeared in the films The Veiled Woman with Bela Lugosi (now thought to be a lost film) and The Cock-Eyed World.

In 1930, she was mentioned for leads in two talkies starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Richard Barthelmess. Fairbanks put off the filming of what became The Exile. After his death, the film was made in 1947 by his son, Douglas, Jr., directed by Max Ophüls.

Spanish language remakes

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Lupita's future husband, producer Paul Kohner, convinced Carl Laemmle to make Spanish language movies that could be shot simultaneously at night with their English originals.

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In 1930, Tovar starred opposite Antonio Moreno in La Voluntad del Muerto, the Spanish-language version of The Cat Creeps and was based on the John Willard mystery play, The Cat and the Canary. Both The Cat Creeps and La Voluntad del muerto were remakes of The Cat and the Canary (1927). Casting was done in July 1930 with the film being released later the same year. The Spanish version was directed by George Melford and, like the Spanish-language version of Drácula, was filmed at night using the same sets as those used for filming the English-language version during the day.

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Tovar shot Drácula, in 1930, when she was 20 years old. The film was produced by her soon-to-be husband, Paul Kohner.


In 1931, Tovar starred in the film Santa, the first to have synchronized sound and image on the same celluloid strip.

The film was based on a famous book featuring an innocent girl from the country who has an affair with a soldier and then tragically becomes a prostitute. Santa was such a hit that the Mexican government issued a postage stamp featuring Tovar as Santa.

In 2006, Santa was shown in a celebratory screening by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences called "A Salute to Lupita Tovar" that featured a conversation between Tovar and film historian Bob Dickson. The event was in honor of Tovar.

Other films

In 1931, Melford directed Tovar in another Universal picture, East of Borneo, which starred Rose Hobart. Tovar also worked on films at Columbia Pictures. Although she herself did not make any silent films, with her earliest films released by Fox Film Corporation in the Fox Movietone sound-on-film system, some may have been released in silent versions for theaters not yet equipped for sound.

Personal life

Tovar went by the nickname Lupita since she was a girl.

During filming of Santa, which was done in Mexico, producer Paul Kohner had to return to Europe because his father was sick. It was this separation, and another the next year when Kohner was producing a film for Universal Pictures in Europe, that made Tovar realize she loved Kohner. Kohner proposed on the phone—he had previously tried to give her a ring—and Tovar went to Czechoslovakia to meet him. They were married, by a rabbi, in Czechoslovakia on October 30, 1932, at Kohner's parents' home.

In 1936, the couple had a daughter, Susan Kohner, a retired film and television actress, and, in 1939, a son, Paul Julius "Pancho" Kohner, Jr., a director and producer. Their grandsons, Chris and Paul Weitz, are successful film directors.

Tovar owned a bassinet that would be used by several well known New Yorkers, including Julie Baumgold, a writer and her husband Edward Kosner, publisher of New York; Elizabeth Sobieski, a novelist and mother of actress Leelee Sobieski, Judy Licht, a TV newswoman, and her husband Jerry Della Femina, an advertising executive.

Tovar died at the age of 106 on 12 November 2016 in Los Angeles of heart disease.


  • 2001: Academia Mexicana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas (Mexican Academy of Arts and Sciences), Lifetime Achievement Award at the XLIII Ceremonia de Entrega del Arielrecibió el Ariel de Oro
  • Filmography

  • 1929: The Veiled Woman (Fox) as Young Girl
  • 1929: Joy Street (Fox)
  • 1929: The Cock-Eyed World (Fox) in bit part (uncredited)
  • 1929: The Black Watch (Fox) in bit part (uncredited)
  • 1930: La Voluntad del Muerto (Universal) (Spanish language version of The Cat Creeps) as Anita
  • 1931: Estamos en París (short)
  • 1931: Drácula (Universal) (Spanish language version of Dracula) as Eva
  • 1931: Carne de Cabaret (Columbia) (Spanish version of Ten Cents a Dance) as Dorothy O'Neil
  • 1931: Yankee Don (Richard Talmadge Productions) as Juanita
  • 1931: El Tenorio del Harem (Universal) as Fátima
  • 1931: East of Borneo (Universal) as Neila
  • 1931: Border Law (Columbia) as Tonita
  • 1932: Santa (Compañia Nacional Productora de Peliculas) as Santa
  • 1934: Vidas Rotas (Inca) (Spanish)
  • 1935: Broken Lives as Marcela
  • 1935: Alas Sobre del Chaco (Universal) (Spanish language version of Storm Over the Andes) as Teresa
  • 1936: The Invader aka An Old Spanish Custom (British & Continental Films) as Lupita Melez
  • 1936: Mariguana (Mexican) as Irene Heredia
  • 1936: El Capitán Tormenta (Grand National) (Spanish language version of Captain Calamity) as Magda
  • 1938: Blockade (United Artists) as Cabaret Girl
  • 1938: El Rosario de Amozoc (Mexican) as Rosario
  • 1938: María (Mexican) as María
  • 1939: The Fighting Gringo (RKO) as Anita "Nita" del Campo
  • 1939: Tropic Fury (Universal) as Maria Scipio
  • 1939: South of the Border (Republic) as Dolores Mendoza
  • 1940: Green Hell (Universal) as Native Girl
  • 1940: The Westerner (United Artists) as Teresita (uncredited)
  • 1941: Two Gun Sheriff (Republic) as Nita
  • 1943: Resurrección (Mexican)
  • 1944: Gun to Gun (Warner Bros.) (short) as Dolores Diego
  • 1944: Miguel Strogoff (El Correo del Zar) (Mexican) as Nadia Fedorova
  • 1945: The Crime Doctor's Courage (Columbia) as Dolores Bragga
  • 1952: Invitation Playhouse: Mind Over Murder (TV series), 1 episode: "Winner Take Nothing"
  • 1988: Universal Horror as Interviewee
  • References

    Lupita Tovar Wikipedia