L.A. Times, April 9, 2002, Mexico City—Maria Felix, an icon of the golden age of Mexican cinema and one of the 20th century’s classic Latin beauties, died here early Monday on her 88th birthday. The cause of death was congestive heart failure, her doctors said. In a career that spanned 47 movies—including the classics “Dona Barbara,” “La Cucaracha” and “Enamorada”—Felix became an international sex symbol while creating the prototype of the strong Latin woman, humble yet noble, irresistible yet untamable, tender yet authoritarian.
President Vicente Fox led Mexican political and cultural leaders in eulogizing her, saying, “As an artist she gave everything to Mexico, [including] a great international presence… I admired her very much, and we Mexicans have suffered a huge loss.” As was the case after the deaths of other prominent Mexican cultural figures, from painter Frida Kahlo to poet Octavio Paz, Felix was honored Monday evening at the ornate Palacio de Bellas Artes, where her body lay in state.
Felix and rival actress Dolores del Rio, who died in 1983, are widely considered the greatest Mexican movie stars. But unlike Del Rio, who achieved a modicum of Hollywood success, Felix never sought a career in the U.S. and so is unknown to many non-Latino film fans. Felix was the last survivor of the epoch whose stars included Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Cantinflas and Pedro Armendariz.