Pedro Armendáriz was one of the most popular and prolific actors of the Mexican Golden Cinema era. He starred in many films directed by Emilio Fernández, such as María Candelaria, Enamorada, and Maclovia. He also made the jump to Hollywood, working with directors like John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. He was known for his strong and nationalist characters, often playing indigenous, peasants, and revolutionaries. He also portrayed Pancho Villa several times. He was admired by audiences and critics alike, and won several awards for his performances. However, his life ended tragically when he committed suicide at the age of 51, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. This article will explore the causes and circumstances of his death, and how it affected his family and fans.
The Diagnosis: A Consequence of Radiation Exposure
According to Wikipedia, Armendáriz was born in Mexico City in 1912, to a Mexican father and an American mother. He studied in California, where he was active in student activities and drama. He returned to Mexico in 1932, where he worked as a journalist, tour guide, and railroad employee. He was discovered by film director Miguel Zacarías, who gave him his first role in a movie. He then met Emilio Fernández, who became his mentor and friend, and with whom he made his most memorable films. He married Carmelita Bohr in 1938, and they had two children, Pedro Jr. and Carmen.
In the late 1940s, he moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in films such as Fort Apache, 3 Godfathers, and We Were Strangers. He also worked in Europe, where he made films like Lucrèce Borgia and The Conqueror. It was in the latter film, where he played Jamuga, the rival of John Wayne’s Genghis Khan, that he was exposed to high levels of radiation. The film was shot in Utah, near a nuclear test site, and many of the cast and crew later developed cancer. According to Archyde, Armendáriz was one of the 91 people out of 220 who worked on the film who died of cancer. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1960, and underwent several surgeries and treatments, but his condition worsened.
The Suicide: A Decision to End the Suffering
According to Fox News, Armendáriz decided to end his life in 1963, when he was in Los Angeles, working on his last film, From Russia with Love, where he played the Bond ally Kerim Bey. He was in constant pain, and he knew he had no chance of recovery. He checked into a hospital, where he asked for a gun, saying he wanted to protect himself from intruders. He then shot himself in the chest, and died shortly after. His body was taken to Mexico City, where he was buried in the Panteón Jardín, next to his father.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, his death shocked and saddened his family, friends, and fans. His wife, Carmelita, said he was a brave and noble man, who loved life and his profession. His son, Pedro Jr., who also became an actor, said he admired his father’s courage and talent, and that he was his hero. His daughter, Carmen, said he was a loving and generous father, who taught her many values. His colleagues, such as Dolores del Río, María Félix, and John Wayne, expressed their condolences and praised his work and legacy. His fans mourned his loss and remembered his films and characters.
The Legacy: A Legend of the Mexican Cinema
Pedro Armendáriz left behind a rich and diverse filmography, spanning over 100 films in different genres and languages. He is considered one of the greatest actors of the Mexican cinema, and one of the first to achieve international recognition and success. He is also regarded as a symbol of the Mexican identity and culture, as he often portrayed the struggles and aspirations of the Mexican people. He received many honors and awards for his work, such as the Ariel Award, the Golden Globe, and the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a statue in his hometown of Mexico City. His films are still widely watched and appreciated by new generations of viewers, who admire his charisma and talent. He is also remembered for his tragic and heroic death, which marked the end of an era in the Mexican cinema.