While the name Maria Montez may not be familiar to many, this Golden Age actress delighted audiences in an array of Technicolor films. She hailed from the Dominican Republic as one of ten children in her family and left for New York City by 1939.
Dreaming of a career in films, Montez signed with an agent and secured a contract with Universal Studios, even though she had no significant prior acting experience. Montez moved to Los Angeles and soon became highly publicized thanks to her personality, talent, and beauty. Her first leading role was in Arabian Nights (1943), which earned her the nickname “The Queen of Technicolor.”
Tom Zimmerman’s The Queen of Technicolor: Maria Montez in Hollywood offers a thoughtful and focused portrait of this overlooked actress. Zimmerman documents her challenges with controlling her accent and connecting with American audiences, as well as discussions of her Latin contemporaries. Unlike some of her Latin peers, Montez did not make her screen persona a caricature or exaggeration of her culture, which allowed her to better connect with Latin American moviegoers. Zimmerman’s book is also supported by strong research and interesting photographs which document Montez’s time on- and off-screen.
The Queen of Technicolor: Maria Montez in Hollywood is available for purchase via the University Press of Kentucky.