Ricky Belmonte was a Filipino actor who rose to fame in the 1960s as one of the talents of Sampaguita Pictures. He starred in many movies, mostly musicals and comedies, and was paired with popular actresses like Rosemarie Sonora, whom he later married. He was also known for his singing and guitar playing skills, and recorded several albums. However, his career and personal life declined in the following decades, and he died of a stroke in 2001 at the age of 53. What was the cause of his death? And what legacy did he leave behind?
A Career of Hits and Misses
Ricky Belmonte was born as Jesus Velez Cruz on December 24, 1947 in Tondo, Manila. He was the son of a flamenco singer turned electrician and a singer and dancer. He had two brothers and a sister, and was a cousin of actor Tirso Cruz III. He adopted the stage name Ricky Belmonte, after the Belmontes, a family of magazine publishers who supported his career.
He started his career as a singer and guitarist, performing in various clubs and shows. He was discovered by Sampaguita Pictures, a leading film studio, and signed a contract with them. He made his film debut in 1966, in Viva Ranchera, a musical comedy. He soon became one of the studio’s top stars, appearing in more than 40 movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of his notable films include Dedicated to You, Sandwich Shindig, Bittersweet, Just Married, Do Not Disturb, and Temptation Island. He was often paired with Rosemarie Sonora, his leading lady and future wife, who was also a Sampaguita star. They were dubbed as the “Ricky-Rose” tandem, and had a huge fan base.
He also pursued his singing career, releasing several albums under Vicor Music Corporation. He sang in various genres, such as pop, rock, folk, and country. Some of his hit songs include “I’ll Never Find Another You”, “I’m a Believer”, “I’ll Be There”, and “You’ve Got a Friend”. He also performed in concerts and TV shows, showcasing his musical talent.
However, his career faced challenges in the 1980s, as the film industry changed and Sampaguita Pictures closed down. He tried to adapt to the new trends, but failed to regain his popularity. He appeared in fewer and lower-budget movies, mostly dramas and action films. Some of his last films include Puso sa Puso, Natutulog Pa ang Diyos, Anak ng Demonyo, and The Untold Story: Vizconde Massacre II. He also faded from the music scene, as new singers and genres emerged.
A Life of Love and Loss
Ricky Belmonte’s personal life was also marked by love and loss. He married Rosemarie Sonora in 1970, after a long courtship. They had three children: Renzo, Sheryl, and Patrick. Sheryl followed her parents’ footsteps and became an actress and singer. Ricky and Rosemarie were considered as one of the most stable and happy couples in showbiz, until their marriage fell apart in 1986. They separated, but never divorced, due to their Catholic faith.
Ricky Belmonte had a series of relationships after his separation, but none of them lasted. He remained close to his children, and supported them in their endeavors. He also maintained a friendly relationship with his ex-wife, and attended family gatherings and events.
He also faced health problems, as he suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure. He had a stroke in 1997, which affected his speech and mobility. He recovered, but had another stroke in 2001, which proved fatal. He died on October 3, 2001, in a hospital in Parañaque. He was 53 years old. He was buried at the La Loma Cemetery in Caloocan.
A Legacy of Fame and Talent
Ricky Belmonte’s life and death are a story of fame and talent, of success and failure, of happiness and sadness. He was a man who had a passion for music and acting, and achieved fame and fortune in his prime. He was also a man who had a troubled and lonely life, and died young and forgotten. He was a husband, a father, a friend, and a star, who had touched and entertained many people.
Ricky Belmonte’s cause of death was a stroke, but his legacy was his music and movies. He is remembered as Ricky Belmonte, one of the most famous and talented stars of the 60s.