Miroslava Stern was a Czechoslovak-Mexican actress who rose to fame in the 1940s and 1950s. She appeared in more than 30 films, both in Mexico and Hollywood, and worked with renowned directors such as Luis Buñuel and John Sturges. She was known for her beauty, talent, and charisma, but also for her troubled personal life and unfulfilled love affairs. On March 9, 1955, she died by suicide at the age of 29, leaving behind a legacy of mystery and sadness.
Early Life and Career
Miroslava was born as Miroslava Stanclová on February 26, 1926, in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her father died when she was young, and she was adopted by a Jewish doctor, Oskar Leo Stern, who married her mother, Miroslava Becka. The family fled their native country in 1939, after the Nazi invasion, and sought refuge in various Scandinavian countries before emigrating to Mexico in 1941. Her mother died of cancer four years later.
Miroslava began her acting career after winning a beauty contest in Mexico City. She studied acting in Los Angeles and returned to Mexico to work in films. She made her debut in 1946, in the film Bodas trágicas, and soon became a popular star in the Mexican cinema. She also appeared in three Hollywood films: The Brave Bulls (1951), Stranger on Horseback (1955), and The White Orchid (1954). She worked with some of the most prominent actors of her time, such as Arturo de Córdova, Pedro Infante, Cantinflas, and Ricardo Montalbán.
Love and Despair
Miroslava had a turbulent romantic life, marked by several marriages and affairs. She married and divorced three times, with Jesús Jaime Obregón, Ernesto Alonso, and Jorge Pasquel. She also had relationships with actors Arturo de Córdova and Carlos Thompson, and bullfighters Luis Miguel Dominguín and Carlos Arruza. She suffered from depression and insecurity, and was often unhappy and lonely.
Her final and fatal obsession was with Luis Miguel Dominguín, a famous Spanish bullfighter who was married to Italian actress Lucia Bosè. Miroslava met him in 1954, when he visited Mexico, and fell madly in love with him. She followed him to Spain and tried to win his affection, but he rejected her and remained faithful to his wife. Miroslava was devastated and returned to Mexico, where she plunged into a deep depression.
The End of a Life and a Film
On March 9, 1955, Miroslava was found dead in her bedroom, lying on her bed with a bottle of sleeping pills and a photo of Dominguín in her hand. She had left a note that read: “No one is responsible for my death”. She had committed suicide, unable to cope with her unrequited love and her emotional turmoil.
Her death coincided with the release of her last film, The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955), directed by Luis Buñuel. In the film, she played Lavinia, a woman who is obsessed with death and who is killed by the protagonist, Archibaldo, who cremates her body. The film was a dark comedy that explored the themes of fetishism, murder, and necrophilia. It was also a prophetic and ironic portrayal of Miroslava’s own fate, as she was cremated after her suicide.
A Legend Remembered
Miroslava’s death shocked and saddened the Mexican public, who admired and loved her as one of their most beautiful and talented stars. She was buried in the Panteón Francés de San Joaquín, in Mexico City, where her fans still visit her grave and pay tribute to her memory. Her life and death inspired a short story by Guadalupe Loaeza, and a film by Alejandro Pelayo, Miroslava (1993), starring Arielle Dombasle. She is also remembered as one of the most tragic and fascinating figures of the golden age of Mexican cinema.