María Félix, the “Soulless Woman”

Sixteen years after her death, EL UNIVERSAL visited her grave to pay tribute to an icon of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema
Poster of "The Soulless Woman" - Photo: Newspaper library of EL UNIVERSAL
Reyna Avendaño
Mexico City
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A heart attack ended the life of María Félix on April 8, 2002. That same day but in 1914, “María Bonita” was born to become one of the most iconic actresses of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.

Sixteen years after her death, EL UNIVERSAL visited her grave to find flowers inside her mausoleum and a photograph of her, smiling together with her son, Enrique.

(Photo: Irvin Olivares/EL UNIVERSAL)

She rests in peace at the French Pantheon, under the shade of the trees and next to forgotten tombs.

Two flowers outside her final resting place paint a stark contrast with the grey around her.

“All men begged for her love and fell to her feet...” reads the 1944 poster announcing the premiere of the film “Mujer sin alma” (“The Soulless Woman”), starring María Félix.

The poster invited all to the watch the film at the Alameda Theater and promised the audience all possible comforts while cautioning them of the dangerous and ruthless Teresa – María's character in the film. “Men in her hands were fragile and submissive marionettes!”

(Photo: Newspaper library of EL UNIVERSAL)

This was María Félix's fifth film but the first alongside respected and veteran actor Fernando Soler.

The film premiered on February 17, 1944, an event which broke the domestic box office record, according to the information published by EL UNIVERSAL.

“No domestic or foreign film in any Mexican theater has earned as much at the box office as 'The Soulless Woman' did last Sunday at the Alameda Theater.”

The film tells the story of a humble seamstress who decides to live a life of luxury and wealth even if it means renouncing to her integrity. Thus, guided by her ambition, she does whatever she can, destroying men in her path in order to keep enjoying the finer things in life and continue climbing the social ladder.

“The Soulless Woman” is part of the trilogy the actress filmed with director Fernando de Fuentes (Doña Bárbara,” and “La devoradora” being the other two) during the 40's, when Félix built her image as the “femme fatale” of Mexican cinema.

(Photo: Newspaper library of EL UNIVERSAL)

“She pretended to love men...she bewitched them with her captivating sensuality...but deep down she manipulated them with strings of treachery!” “For the first time María Félix plays a role which matches her authentic and captivating personality,” were some of the messages used to promote the film.

For many, the character of Teresa matched the true personality of María Félix, who was seen as a dominating and cruel woman, a heart-breaker.

In several interviews “La Doña” gave throughout her life, she seemed to agree, to an extent, with that perception many had of her: “Men didn't choose me, I chose my men, that's why I've been so happy.” “I've never loved anyone else as much as I've loved myself so none has made me suffer.”

When asked about the sudden death of her husband, Jorge Negrete – after only a year of marriage – María, with honesty and humor, replied: “I didn't have enough time to get bored.”


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