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Lola Beltran picture, image, poster
Lola Beltran

Date of birth : 1932-03-07
Date of death : 1996-03-25
Birthplace : Rosario, Sinaloa, Mexico
Nationality : Mexican
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-11-04

Lola Beltrán was a Mexican film actress and one of the most acclaimed Mexican ranchera singers, nicknamed Lola la Grande ("Lola the Great").

Born Maria Lucia Beltrán Alcayaga, was raised in the rural town of Rosario, one of seven children of Maria de Los Angeles Ruíz del Beltrán, a homemaker, and Pedro Beltrán Felix, a miner. As a child she sang at mass and in the church choir, where her director introduced her to the romantic ballads of Pedro Infante and Agustin Lara. In 1953, after graduating from secretarial school, Beltrán and her mother left Rosario for Mexico City, seeking to make a name for herself singing in the tradition of the balladeers she admired.

Accounts vary as to how Beltrán secured a recording contract in Mexico City, although it is clear that radio station XEW played a crucial role. According to The Billboard Guide to Tejano and Regional Mexican Music, Beltrán visited the radio station and pleaded for a chance to sing on the air. Rudely dismissed by the station executives, Tomás Méndez, a songwriter and singer with the group Los Diamentes, secured her an audition with the station manager, Amado C. Guzmán. While Guzmán did not immediately offer Beltrán her shot at stardom, he did hire her as his secretary. A year later she won a contest to sing with Miguel Aceves Mejía on a weekly radio program at XEW, an opportunity that landed her a recording contract and saw her dubbed Lola Beltrán. Soon thereafter, the Discos Peerless label released her first single, containing two songs popularized by singer José Alfredo Jiménez, "Cuando el Destino" and "Por un Beso."
According to the New York Times, however, Beltrán pestered XEW regulars the Mariachi Vargas to let her perform with them on air. Once they relented, she so impressed station executives that she was awarded her own show. Either way, XEW was central in launching Beltrán's career, and she told the Times in a 1988 interview, "Even now, every time I go by the station, I make the sign of the cross."

Beltrán's impassioned vocal tales of down-and-out, yet ultimately redeemed, characters immediately captured the hearts of Mexican listeners poor and rich, unknown and influential. Songwriters whose work helped make her famous included Méndez, Lara, Jiménez and Rubén Fuentes. "She had an impeccable sense for choosing material that was best suited to her voice and style and in which she could capture life's melancholy essence," the Billboard Guide noted. Over the course of five decades, Beltrán released over 100 albums and starred in more than 50 films. Her most popular singles included "Cucurrucucu Paloma," "Cielito Lindo," "Paloma Negra," "Si Nos Dejan," and "No Volveré." She became known colloquially as Lola la Grande, or Lola the Great. Beltrán told the New York Times she saw no difference between singing and acting. "Any good singer is already an actress. If you're doing things properly, you are projecting, and as you project, people are feeling the drama and emotion that pours out of you."
Despite her diva-like demeanor--Beltrán became known for her extravagant dresses and shawls, her fondness for furs and jewelry, and a regal demeanor that earned her a second nickname, "the Queen"--her tales of hardship and redemption resonated with Mexico's poor and working-class residents. Beltrán also captivated upper-class listeners around of the world, becoming the first ranchera singer to perform at the staid El Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, a venue that had previously hosted only classical music events. She performed for numerous dignitaries and heads of state, and Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar featured her rendition of "Soy infeliz" ("I am unhappy") in his film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Despite her widespread appeal, Beltrán performed in the same manner for every audience. "My lot in life has been to sing, and I have been fortunate enough to sing for Eisenhower, Nixon, de Gaulle, the King of Spain and the United Nations," she told the New York Times in 1988. "But I sing no differently for them than for that great public whose affection for me is like a fountain that never dries up."

Beltrán's sudden death on March 25, 1996, following what has been called both a stroke and a heart attack, shocked and saddened an entire nation. As testament to her popularity, thousands flocked to pay their respects both in Mexico City, where her body lay in state at the Palacio de las Bellas Artes, and in her hometown of Rosario. Radio stations played her songs all week and her movies became fixtures on Mexican television. Television shows were repeatedly interrupted with news of Beltrán's funeral proceedings.

In a 1988 New York Times interview Beltrán shed light on the way she connected so deeply with so many. "When I hear a song, I want it to tell me something," she said. "I want it to be well structured and well proportioned. It can tell the story of a great love or of a tremendous sadness, but it has to have emotion and truth. The song has to make it worth my while to sing it."


Una gallina muy ponedora (1982)
Las fuerzas vivas (1975) as Chabela, Eufemio's wife
Me caíste del cielo (1975) as Lupita
Padre nuestro que estás en la tierra (1972) as Matilde
Furias bajo el cielo (1971)
Duelo en El Dorado (1969)
Valentín de la Sierra (1968)
Matar es fácil (1966)
Tirando a gol (1966)
Cucurrucucú Paloma (1965)
Los Hermanos Muerte (1965)
Canción del alma (1964) as Lola
El revólver sangriento (1964)
México de mi corazón (1964)
Baila mi amor (1963)
El hombre de papel (1963)
La bandida (1963)
Camino de la horca (1962)
Besito a papá (1961)
La joven mancornadora (1961)
¿Donde estás, corazón? (1961)
México lindo y querido (1961)
Las canciones unidas (1960)
¡Qué bonito amor! (1960)
Sucedió en México (1958)
Música en la noche (1958)
Guitarras de medianoche (1958)
Donde las dan las toman (1957)
Rogaciano el huapanguero (1957)
Pensión de artistas (1956)
Con quién andan nuestras hijas? (1956) as Prieta de Xochimilco
Una movida chuecaa (1956)
De carnia taco supremas with sidas of sour cream (1955)
Pueblo quieto (1955)
Soy un golfo (1955)
Espaldas mojadas (1955)
Al diablo las mujeres (1955)
El barba azul (1955)
La desconocida (1954)
El tesoro de la muerte (1954)
Song of Dolores (1947)

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