Chus Martinez On Soledad Miranda

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Soledad Miranda was born Soledad Rendón Bueno on 9 July 1943 in Seville, Spain. The eldest of six children born to Portuguese parents, Soledad (whose name translates as solitude or loneliness) was the niece of Spanish singer-actress-flamenco dancer Paquita Rico. Soledad’s parents were poor and in order to make money, from the age of eight Soledad worked as a professional flamenco dancer and singer, first in the “Youth Galas” at the Seville Fair and San Fernando theatre, and then throughout southern Spain.

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Soledad’s ambition was to become an actress. At the age of sixteen she moved to Madrid and adopted the stage name Miranda. She made her film debut in 1960 as a dancer in the musical La bella Mimí. She struggled with acting at first but eventually found regular work. Miranda was often in the tabloid papers since she was rumoured to be the girlfriend of the most famous bullfighter of the time, Manuel Benítez (El Cordobés).

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Soledad became a well-known face in Spanish cinema and appeared in over thirty films between 1960 to 1970. There were epic adventures (Ursus, Cervantes); horror films (Sound of Horror); dramas (Canción de cuna, Currito de la Cruz); comedies (Eva 63, La familia y uno más); and even a Spaghetti western (Sugar Colt). American producer Sidney Pink gave Soledad roles in his international productions The Castilian and Pyro. Her singing and dancing skills were utilised in several movies as well as on stage in Spanish folkloric shows, and she also released some yé-yé pop records in the mid-1960s.

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In 1964, Soledad had made a trio of films in Portugal. José Manuel da Conceiçao Simões, a Portuguese racing driver, was a producer and also acted in them. In one of the films, Un día en Lisboa (A Day in Lisbon), they played a couple travelling between Estoril and Lisbon. They married in 1966. In April 1967, Soledad gave birth to a boy called Antonio. Soledad retired from performing in order to raise her son. Her husband also retired from racing.

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For nearly two years, Soledad did not work at all, but when she was offered a role in the western 100 Rifles she decided to take it, hoping she’d become internationally famous. In this second phase of her career, Soledad appeared in several films and on Spanish television shows.

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In 1969, the cult director Jess Franco was casting his film Count Dracula in Spain. Remembering Soledad as a girl who’d had a tiny cameo in his musical La reina del Tabarín nearly a decade before, Franco hired her and she became his muse and leading star.

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In the brief period between late 1969 and the summer of 1970, Soledad made seven films for Jess Franco, including Eugénie de Sade,  Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy and The Devil Came From Akasava. Due to the erotic nature of these movies, Soledad was billed under the name Susann Korda (alternately spelled Susan Korday).

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In August 1970, as the filming of The Devil Came From Akasava drew to a close, Soledad and her husband took a short holiday in Portugal. She was thrilled that Jess Franco’s producer wanted her to sign a new multi-film contract. On the morning of 18 August 1970, reportedly on the way to sign this contract, Soledad and her husband went out driving along the Costa do Sol highway between Estoril and Lisbon, which was the same route they had taken years earlier in the film Un día en Lisboa. They were involved in a collision with a small truck that completely crushed their car. Though her husband, who was driving, only had minor injuries, Soledad was seriously hurt and left in a coma. She died hours later at the Hospital of São José in Lisbon, having never regained consciousness.

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