That legacy is thanks to her fourth husband, French banker Alexander Berger, who was instrumental in financing Mexico City’s metro system so La Doña, as she came to be known, could commute in cosmopolitan fashion.
More than 100 years after her birth, Mexico remembers a woman who captivated everyone with her uncanny charm — both personally and professionally. As one of the faces of Mexico’s golden age of cinema, she fed the country’s ’s collective imagination.
Who was María Félix?
She was beautiful, with a penetrating gaze and a dazzling figure. Her immortal beauty will forever remain in those black-and-white feature films where she starred in roles that empowered women. Gone were the women who bowed their heads and said ‘yes’ to anything their male counterparts wanted.
The actress led a distinguished life, thanks to her professional skills. The characters she got to play, such as María Ángela Valdivia in El Peñon de las Ánimas, catapulted her to fame and secured devoted fans until the day she died.
Her personal life was as massive as her career.
Some of her biggest love stories were off-screen. She lived with Veracruz singer and composer Agustín Lara, ‘El Flaco de Oro,’ and Jorge Negrete, ‘El Charro Negro de México.’ Later, she married Berger, a French businessman. They worked closely together, in Latin America and Europe.
She also participated in what was Mexico City’s most extensive urban transformation of the 20th century.
What is her link to Mexico City’s subway system?
Some moments of her life marked Mexico’s history, such as when she declined the invitation of Ernesto P. Uruchurtu, the regent of Mexico City in the 1950s and ’60s, to set up residency within Mexico City. She responded with an arrogant yet justifiable attitude, saying that it needed a subway system for the city to be the capital of a cosmopolitan nation.
“You may choose not to believe me, nothing will change between us, but the wonderful Mexico City’s Metro is mine, as my husband gave it to me,” says Maria Félix in an audio broadcast of her foundation. “The idea to make the subway came from Alex Berger, my husband, and he poured his soul into it to its end. He told me, ‘You, who want so much for your country to progress and who dream of that and other fabulous things, here is a gift for you, the city’s subway.’”
Félix says she participated actively in her husband’s meetings with Alfonso Corona del Rosal, the mayor of Mexico City, to discuss the Metro Collective System’s construction. This infrastructure project influences the daily life of millions of Mexicans.
“Honestly, I cannot imagine how life would be without the Metro,” said Carlos Murrieta, a Mexico City resident. “It is so necessary for millions of people who use it to move through Mexico City that it is impossible to think of going without it.”
Such is the reach of the actress that her contribution to the Mexican cinema, as well as her influence on the capital city’s transit system, leave a lasting gift.
(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez. Edited by Fern Siegel.)
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