Inside The Tragic 1944 Death Of Actress Lupe Velez

Lupe Velez was a Mexican actress during the Golden Age of Hollywood. She was born Maria Guadalupe Villalobos Velez in Mexico in 1908 to a wealthy family and grew up when her country faced a revolution. Amid the tumultuous time, Velez sought happiness in acting, per History of Yesterday. As a little girl, she acted in her own plays at home and copied the acting of actresses she saw in theaters. Her father, Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, was a colonel in the Mexican Army, and he allowed his little girl to accompany him in battles. The experience exposed the young Velez to the harsh reality and made her tough. "It is my first school, thees revolution. I do not cry. I do not have goose pimples on my flesh. I do not have fears of bullets," she said (via Los Angeles Magazine).

Velez had a fiery personality and unlike her sisters, wasn't so ladylike. At 13 years old, she had a relationship with a man eight years her senior, which concerned her family. Velez was sent to a convent in Texas in hopes she would be tamed, but the young lady remained mischievous and even attempted to escape. Things changed, however, when she received a message that her father had been missing for six months from the war, and she was called back home.

Lupe Velez the actress

Jacobo Villalobos Reyes was presumed dead, and Lupe Velez had to work in order to help support her family. She obtained work at a department store and auditioned at a local theater. That was the beginning of Velez's acting career. Her father, who was later found alive, eventually returned from the war and was angered that her daughter had become an actress. She was banned from using his surname, and from then on, Lupe used her mother's maiden name. She gained enough popularity in her home country to get the attention of director and producer Richard Bennett, who invited her to Hollywood, as reported by Los Angeles Magazine.

Velez stood at just 5 feet, but her fierce personality made up for her small stature; she was given the nickname "Mexican Hurricane" and the "Mexican Spitfire." In Hollywood, she starred in several films as well as on Broadway. She gained a reputation for being a hothead, with stories of her threatening other actresses and attacking people. One person said, "When she puckers up her lips, it is impossible to tell if she is going to kiss you, bite you, or spit on you," (via More of Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries). Despite her intense personality, Velez was loved by many. As Los Angeles Magazine noted, she was generous to her friends and people she did not know, cared for rescued animals, and entertained crew members on film sets.

The death of Lupe Velez

In 1944, Lupe Velez was dating an Austrian man named Harald Ramond. However, by December of that year, the relationship had deteriorated. According to Los Angeles Magazine, Velez fell pregnant, and being a Catholic, she wanted Ramond to marry her but the man refused to do so. On the evening of December 13, Velez was out with her friends and one of them, Estelle Taylor, said that the actress seemed depressed (via The New York Times). They talked about the pregnancy and at one point during the conversation, Velez told Taylor, "I am getting to the place where the only thing I am afraid of is life itself." The dinner lasted from 9:30 p.m. until 3:30 a.m. on December 14.

Later that morning, Velez's secretary, Beulah Kinder, found her dead in bed. At first, Kinder thought the actress was just asleep, as she looked so peaceful, but she found two suicide notes, and one was addressed to her. In it, Velez told her she loved her and to take care of her dogs, Chips and Chops. The other was addressed to Ramond, which partly read, "How could you Harald, fake such great love for me and our baby when all the time you didn't want us. I see no other way out for me, so goodbye and good luck to you."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)‚Äč.

Harald Ramond's statement

There are two different accounts of Lupe Velez's death. In 1959, filmmaker and author Kenneth Anger wrote a book titled "Hollywood Babylon," in which he claimed that Lupe took 75 sleeping pills with brandy, which made her sick. She ran into the bathroom and was allegedly found with her head still inside the toilet bowl the following morning, as reported by History of Yesterday. Many took Anger's account as fact, but those who were present at the scene discounted his story. Clinton Anderson from the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Beulah Kinder's account and said Velez was found dead on her bed.

Harald Ramond was shocked and confused when he was informed of Velez's death, per The New York Times. He admitted that they had an argument and in the heat of the moment, he told Velez that he was only going to sign a document to "give the baby a name" but that he only said it out of anger. He claimed that the last time they conversed, he told her that he was willing to marry her "in any way she wanted," to which Velez reportedly said that she was not pushing forward with the pregnancy, which was the reason why they ended their relationship. Velez died at the age of 36. She is buried at the Panteon Civil de Dolores Cemetery in Mexico.