Actress Katy Jurado, who garnered an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win in the 1950s, died July 5 in her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico, after suffering from lung and heart ailments. She was 78.
A major star in Mexican cinema, Jurado was one of her nation’s most prominent thesps in 1950s American movies, and she continued to perform on both sides of the border until 1998. Her Oscar nom came for her supporting role in the 1954 Spencer Tracy-starring Western “Broken Lance,” and she claimed her Globe for her performance in the classic 1952 Gary Cooper film “High Noon.” In addition she won three Ariels (Mexico’s Oscar), including one for her role in Luis Bunuel’s 1952 film “El Bruto.”
Her film career began in 1943 in Mexico after being discovered by director Emilio Fernandez; she made her American debut in 1951 in “The Bullfighter and the Lady.” Director Budd Boetticher and producer John Wayne spotted Jurado at a bullfight in Mexico and discussed her playing the wife of an aging matador — the irony is that they did so prior to finding out she was indeed an actress.
Speaking little English at first, Jurado recited her lines phonetically and returned to Mexico after her films in the States were completed. But she returned to live in California from 1959 to 1964 during her marriage to her second husband, Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine.
Born Maria Cristina Jurado Garcia in Guadalajara, her mother was a former opera singer and her father a wealthy owner of cattle and orange groves — and whose family had been major landowners (past generations had controlled what is now Texas) before their holdings were confiscated during the Mexican Revolution. Jurado faced familial opposition to her acting aspiration, but she pursued it anyway and went on to star in such Mexican hits as “Nosotros Los Pobres” (We the Poor) as well as dozens of other films including such U.S. pics as “One-Eyed Jacks” (1961), “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” (1973) and “Under the Volcano.” Additional films included “The Hi-Lo Country” (1998), and U.S. TV series “a.k.a. Pablo” (1984).
Besides acting, she wrote features, film reviews and bullfighting stories for Mexican newspapers and was a radio commentator as well.
She is survived by a daughter.