Maria Conchita Alonso, actress, b. June 29, 1957 somewhere in Cuba.
Be still my heart.
When Maria Conchita Alonso was five, her parents left Cuba, perhaps due to some minor squabbles going on there. They moved to Venezuela and began living a new life in Caracas. She was then recruited by Venezuelan suit-wearing idea-thinking capitalists who found her beauty and charm to be the perfect combination for work in television commercials and films. Before the age of 14 she already had a successful acting and modeling career, which launched her into big time exposure when she won an international beauty pagent and was named Miss Teenager of the World in 1971. Not just of Venezuela, for those of you skimming over this information a bit too quickly, but of the whole freakin' world. She then became Miss Venezuela in 1975.
Honestly, she still makes me nervous.
But in very good ways.
This launched her into her first starring roles, all in commercial Venezuelan films and appearances in numerous soap operas. The success in Venezuela and on Spanish language television led Maria to decide to move to the United States in 1982.
Her first major role in an English speaking film was with Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson, where not only was she acting full time in English, but she also had to play an Italian immigrant. The more simple plan might have been to change her character to a hispanic immigrant, but Maria took on the challenge, although anyone who speaks Italian and knows accents will notice something is wrong, very wrong, with the accent of Lucia Lombardo in the film. Beyond that, the role was a success and Maria Conchita Alonso's success on the Latin American screen was beginning to translate to success on the North American screen.
My gosh, she is naked in a bathtub with Robin Williams in that movie...
Maria would appear in a few films over the next couple years, but her next big showing would be in 1987's The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger. There she gets to be one of the "game show" contestants along with our friend Arnold and survives to the end to provide a special moment by which a rapist can reflect upon his behavior. She manages to be tough but feminine, beautiful and capable, and everything else you ever wanted from an actress in an action movie.
That same year she would appear with Nick Nolte in Extreme Prejudice in which her character, Sarita, manages to be involved with both the cop (Nolte) and the bad guy (Powers Boothe). Her career in Hollywood was reaching its peak, and she would follow up with her appearance in Colors with Robert Duvall and Sean Penn. Her role as Louisa Gomez was one of her most poignant, the ultimate in the anti-romantic lead, as she shakes off Sean Penn's simplistic view of right and wrong and his affections when he is unable to understand her shades of gray.
She would never get much of a chance to star in a commercially or critically successful film after that. She was featured in Predator 2, but the string of films to follow would involve things like Teamster Boss, The House of the Spirits, Acts of Betrayal and Caught. Not exactly the types of films people are lining up for at the video store or to buy on DVD.
Is that all there is? Gosh, I hope not!
The eternally lovely and talented Miss Conchita has continued to make movies despite the fact that it seems like the bottom has fallen out of the popularity bucket. She has branched out in her career, returning to South America to cut some albums as a singer. Another case of actors deciding they know all about music? Maybe, but she has been nominated for Grammys in 1985 for Best Latin Artist, 1988 for Best Latin Pop Performance, and 1992 for Best Latin Pop Album. More than just a singer, she writes many of her own songs, including seven of the tracks on her album Imaginame. She is one of the top selling artists in her adopted homeland of Venezuela and throughout Latin America. She is also the voice that sings the theme song for the film Scarface.
From 1992 through 1993 she hosted the popular weekly Spanish language variety show Picante and in 1994 was the star of Alejandra, a show based on a story by Dela Fiallo that was tuned in to by more than three million people in forty Spanish speaking countries and garnered the largest viewership of any show broadcast in Spain that year.
She fought a long battle with bulimia that began in the 1980s when her then boyfriend accused her of being fat, which led to her not eating at first and then deciding it was a good idea to eat and then throw it all up, allowing her to enjoy her food without it enjoying her. She never considered it a problem until she blew a hole in her esophagus and broken blood vessels began appearing on her neck. This forced her to seek medical help and a doctor who found ways to get her to eat like a normal person once again.
Also worth noting is that in 1995 she got the role of Aurora in the Broadway production of Kiss of the Spider Woman which gave her the distinction of being the first South American woman to star in a Broadway production... even though she's actually Cuban.
Dates, titles and spelling researched at allmovie.com
and info on her bulimia from a www.healthtalk.com interview
Much documented from memory
and from conversations with MrsDeadGuy
who called me a "dumbass" four times during the discussion