Born 1928 as María Antonia Abad Fernández, Spanish singer and actress Sara Montiel started in movies at 16 in her native Spain, where she appeared in a secondary role in her first movie, Te quiero para mí (I want you for myself) in 1944, immediately followed by a leading role in Empezó en boda (It Began with a Wedding) also in 1944.
Montiel has been called a “sexual, feminist, and gay icon for Francoist Spain.” She worked in Europe, Latin America and United States. Her films The Last Torch Song and The Violet Seller netted the highest gross revenues ever recorded for films made in the Spanish-speaking movie industry during the 1950s and ’60s.
Montiel was portrayed in the Pedro Almodóvar film Bad Education by a male actor in drag (Gael García Bernal) as the cross-dressing character Zahara, and a film clip from one of her movies was used, as well.
Montiel is considered “one of the most important actresses in the history of Spain”, and has been described by Spain’s press as a “myth of Spanish cinema.” She has also been characterized as “the most beautiful woman of 20th century Spain.”
Sara Montiel appeared in nearly 50 films and recorded around 500 songs. She died in 2013 at her home in Madrid at the age of 85 from congestive heart failure.
Take a look at these gorgeous photos to see the beauty of young Sara Montiel in the 1950s.