Soledad Miranda

Full Soledad Bio - Short Soledad Bio - Jess Franco and Soledad - Soledad Facts - Soledad Trivia - Soledad Quotes

For many years, all that Soledad's fans knew about her, other than her filmography, were from things Jess Franco said. Very little was known about this cult star until the discovery of many magazine articles and interviews with Soledad from her lifetime (which are all on this site in the members section). The following bio is the result of researching these articles. Because the facts as Jess Franco recalls them seem to change slightly over time, his many comments about Soledad's life and personality are separated from her main bio.


Full Soledad Miranda Bio

Soledad Miranda was born Soledad Rendón Bueno on July 9, 1943 in Seville, Spain. Soledad (whose name translates as "solitude" or "loneliness") was the niece of the famous Spanish singer-actress-flamenco dancer Paquita Rico. Soledad was the first-born child to parents who had little money and, eventually, six children. It was necessary to contribute to the family income. At eight years old, Soledad made her professional debut when she was hired as a flamenco dancer and singer, first in the "Youth Galas" at the Seville fair and San Fernando Theatre, and then on a tour throughout southern Spain. Her dream was to be an actress, so at age sixteen she moved to Madrid and drew an artistic last name out of a hat. After a difficult start during which she had to learn to speak without her Andalusian accent, she made her film debut in 1960 as a dancer in a musical called La bella Mimí. She struggled for a few years and almost gave up on her career, but eventually found regular work and was able to send money back home. She was often in the tabloids as the rumored girlfriend of the most famous bullfighter of the time, Manuel Benítez "El Cordobés".

Soledad was well-received in Spanish film as well as international co-productions. The young beauty worked constantly, appearing in numerous movies (she played in over thirty altogether from 1960 to 1970). There were epic adventures (Ursus, The Castilian, Cervantes); horror films (Pyro, 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). Her talents in singing and dancing were shown off in several movies as well as on stage in folkloric shows, and she also released a couple of pop records in the mid-1960s with some success. Soledad was a well-rounded girl who enjoyed writing poetry, painting, and reading books.

In 1964 Soledad had made a trio of films in Portugal. José Manuel da Conceiçao Simões, a Portuguese racecar driver, was a producer and also acted in them. In one of the films, Un día en Lisboa, they played a couple traveling between Estoril and Lisbon. After a secret courtship, the pair married in 1966. In April 1967 Soledad had her greatest triumph: a baby boy, Antonio. Her husband retired from racing and took a safer job in the auto industry. Both parents liked cars, and hoped little Tony would follow his father's footsteps. At this point Soledad retired from performing in order to raise her son. For nearly two years she did not work at all, but when she was offered a role in the western 100 Rifles she decided to return, hoping to receive a great role and become known outside of Spain. But she said if she hadn't truly triumphed with a couple of years, she would retire forever.

In this second phase of her career, Soledad took on a lot of work, appearing in several films and Spanish television movies. This is also when prolific legendary cult director Jess Franco was casting in Spain for his film Count Dracula. Remembering a girl who'd had a tiny cameo in his musical La reina del Tabarín nearly a decade before, Franco hired Soledad and managed to save her from becoming forgotten. She became his great star. Soledad was very happy and fulfilled and told friends that she was convinced that 1970 would be her biggest year. For most of her career she'd played the sweet and innocent heroine; Franco, however, saw sensuality in her and eroticized her image, merging goodness and evil in her persona. They made numerous films together, including Eugénie de Sade, Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy, and The Devil Came from Akasava. Due to the erotic nature of these films, Soledad took the pseudonym Susann Korda. According to Franco, she greatly enjoyed working with him and was transformed. Once a youthful, dimpled, bubbly starlet, she changed her styles of makeup, hair, clothing, and even performance, becoming the pale, haunted, mysterious icon of Franco's movies.

In August, near the end of filming The Devil Came from Akasava, Soledad and her husband took a short holiday in Portugal. She was looking forward to theatrical performances in Latin America and was thrilled with some news from Jess Franco: his producer Artur Brauner wanted to offer her a multi-year contract that would make her a star. On the morning of August 18, 1970, reportedly on the way to sign the Franco contract, Soledad and her husband went out driving along the Costa del Sol highway between Estoril and Lisbon (which, in an eerie coincidence, was the same route they'd taken years earlier in the film Un día en Lisboa). They were involved in a collision with a small truck which completely crushed their car. Though her husband, who was driving, only had minor injuries, Soledad received serious fractures to her skull and spine. She died hours after the accident at the Hospital of San José in Lisbon, never having come out of her coma. Everyone who knew her - friends, family, and all the artistic circles in Spain - was shocked by the news.

Soledad was a well-known figure in Spanish cinema, but it had always been her dream to be known outside of Spain as well. Her life was tragically cut short just as that was about to happen. However, after many years of obscurity, her legacy is spreading due to Jess Franco's popularity and the fact that many of her films are on DVD. Soledad Miranda has posthumously become the international celebrity she always wanted to be. Film expert Tim Lucas (of Video Watchdog) described Soledad as "a singular and truly irreplaceable personality... Whereas many of Franco's subsequent female leads have tended toward tawdry obviousness, weird eccentricity, or both, Soledad Miranda was alone in exuding an alluring, enigmatic quality that allowed her to remain provocative and unknowable in scenes that would have stripped any other actress of all mystery. In a phrase, she was to the Spanish horror cinema what Barbara Steele was to the Italian horror cinema of the 1960s: a uniquely compelling personality in whose face the shadings of fear and desire are equally discernible and tantalizing."


Jess Franco and Soledad Miranda

Soledad Miranda is generally regarded as legendary cult director (and Goya of Honor award winner) Jess Franco's greatest discovery; her films with him are the ones with lasting fame and are what have made her a star. They first worked together in 1960 in La reina del Tabarín, a vehicle for singer/dancer Mikaela Wood. According to the book Immoral Tales, Soledad was one of a lively mob of "gypsies" living in Mikaela's house, where Franco visited frequently. He said, "I met her when she was practically a girl, she was presented to me by a representative of the flamenco artists, Brageli. He and Mikaela told me about her. She was a really beautiful and very attractive girl, with much personal charm." According to Franco, "Gypsy people in Andalucía in south of Spain are different... They are much more creative, elegant. Even in know how to breathe." He said, "Soledad was a half-gypsy girl from Seville and she came into Madrid to look for a chance to work in theatre or movies or something... Mikaela Wood who herself was a normal half-gypsy girl – told me about her and asked me to give her a little part and that's how I met Soledad... She came from a very low, low, low class family of half-gypsy people." According to Franco, Soledad "never studied a school of theatre or cinema." The only art she'd formally studied was dance. Franco described Soledad as "very spontaneous... She had no culture. No intellect but a primitive instinct. A very clear and clever mind. She was just letting herself float through life. She was very sentimental and very carnal at the same time." He also said "she made a lot of films with stupid parts" and that Spanish cinema "tried to turn her into the usual idiot, into a doll." These statements, however, contradict many Spanish articles and interviews with Soledad, which speak of her intelligence and her great love for reading, writing poems, and art. Furthermore, she had some great roles in Spanish cinema that were not idiotic at all! However, Franco did say that "she had a lot of personality" and "an extraordinary intuition and mental speed without any training. She just read and wrote. She maybe had read most of Alexander Dumas to the end. But she had a kind of inner light, inner intensity."

According to Franco, "She had a rather unfortunate and difficult life, which began with flamenco dancing and led to small roles in films. It is very difficult for actors in Spain to achieve any kind of recognition. She eventually gave up and married a Portuguese racing driver - a very nice fellow, by the way - and they had a child. She retired for a while into her own private life but, in the end, she couldn't resist returning to the cinema." He said "She couldn’t resist the temptation to make more movies because she had show business in her blood." Though he hadn't seen Soledad in years, when Franco returned to Spain to film Count Dracula and was looking for his Lucy, he thought of Soledad because he saw her in a film. Franco said, "I thought she was fantastic and everybody in the crew said, 'Oh, my God, she's wonderful, she's perfect'" and "I think Soledad was fantastic in my Dracula. Even Christopher [Lee] was very impressed. Then I proposed to her to do different films with Artur Brauner in Germany. I wanted her... because she had this 'something'. And she immediately accepted." Brauner told Franco, "She's fantastic. Don't lose her." When Franco asked her "about the problems of nudity," she said she had no problem with it. "She was a very modern girl, very normal, very open. We decided together this name change for two reasons: first because I thought that Soledad Miranda was not international at all, then because she thought it would be better, vis-à-vis her family, vis-à-vis Spain, that she make erotic films under an assumed name." Franco said "Soledad did not have any problem with stripping, but liked it well. The only condition that Soledad put was to look for a pseudonym, because she was a gypsy, of Triana and was terrified of the possible reaction of her mother if she found out that she was working in sexy movies."

During the course of filming these Brauner productions, Franco said "She came out of her little world. Not of her internal world, because she had an intense internal life, but of her external world. She discovered Europe, she went to Paris, to London, to Berlin, to Rome. She began to discover cinema, because it’'s difficult to know it if you stay in Spain. She was completely dazzled, changed, and for the first time in her life, she felt complete, ready to become someone, something else." Franco has also said, "When she began working in my films, it was like watching her undergo a transformation. She told me it was the first time in her life she felt so fulfilled." Jess Franco told Tim Lucas that Soledad "seemed to come fully to life only on camera." Franco said that she "had a personality which translated to the screen a lot of the things that she felt deep inside. But it translated in an unconscious way. She was a funnel. It was very simple for me to explain things to her. She got it immediately because she was like a funnel. I think she had this special thing that the stars have. It's not that you have to be a great actor but when this actor enters the scene you don't look at anybody else – you only look at this girl or this guy. And she had this. She was a very sweet and very nice person... It happened very often with the Spanish gypsy people... Those gypsies had a kind of majesty and personal class. Who knows why? Because there's no reason for it. They work very well and they pose in a fantastic way – a lot of them. Soledad was a maximum of this kind of person." Franco summed it up, "What did I give to Soledad? A little flesh, I said take a role and she shot to it like an arrow and she did amazing because she had an extraordinary intuition and sensitivity."

Franco made six films with Soledad and showed some footage to Artur Brauner, who went crazy for Soledad. According to Franco, Brauner told him, "I really want to hire this girl because she has a truly extraordinary potential, a personality, a presence, she has it all." Brauner wanted to offer her the chance of a lifetime: a multi-year contract to star in big films with important parts. "She was going to become a major star in Europe," Franco said. Soledad and her husband were on holiday in Lisbon. Franco went there with producer Karl Heinz Mannchen and a draft of the contract and they met Soledad to give her the news: "I explain to her that this is the offer, of Brauner. She was kind-of flying, full of happiness. So we took an appointment the next day to make the contract." Yet Soledad did not arrive. "After waiting for two hours, very strange because she was very formal and punctual, they [the hospital] called to tell us that she had had a traffic accident." Calling the terrible car crash "a monstrosity", Franco said, "when the hospital called me to break the news... I nearly passed out."

Soledad's shocking death left a deep void and was a real blow to everyone who knew her, particularly Franco. He reportedly was visited by Soledad in his dreams and whatever she would tell him, he would act upon. Karl Heinz Mannchen remembers changing a shooting location because of Franco's dreams. Franco has confirmed that bits of clothing that Soledad wore in a film have mysteriously found their way into productions after she died. Franco said she left behind an incredible legacy, summarizing: "She was a wonderful being that the people of my crew loved. She still exists among us. We talk about her almost every day and other girls who have played in my films afterwards, have felt influenced by the 'being' Soledad Miranda, even dominated in some way by her still present magnetism... It is normal that she would live on among us and in the places where she was happy. In any case, the influence that she can exert on us will always be beneficial." He revealed his favorite films with Soledad: "I think she's very good in Eugénie, she's wonderful in Eugénie... And She Killed in Ecstasy. In this film she's fantastic, she's strong and wonderful... I think those two are the best."


Short Soledad Miranda Bio

Soledad Miranda was a Spanish actress who appeared in many films in the 1960s. Her remarkable beauty and her tragic untimely death make her story the stuff of legend. She was born on July 9, 1943 in Seville, Spain. She started her career when only eight years old as a flamenco dancer and singer. She made her film debut at age sixteen as a dancer. During the following years, the delicate beauty appeared in numerous comedies, dramas, B-movies, and horror films, mostly in Spain (over thirty films altogether from 1960 to 1970). Her biggest break came from legendary director Jess Franco, who cast Soledad in such cult classics as Count Dracula and Vampyros Lesbos. Soledad is generally regarded as Franco's greatest discovery. On August 18, 1970 Soledad was in a car accident on a highway in Portugal. She died hours later, survived by her husband (a former racecar driver) and young son. Ironically, before this tragic accident, a German film producer had offered her a contract which would have made her a great star. Soledad was destined to become a legend. Not until the years after her death has she become a cult starlet with fans all over the world now discovering the beautiful, doomed actress.


Soledad Miranda Facts

BIRTH NAME / PSEUDONYMS: Soledad Rendón Bueno / Soledad Miranda, Susann Korda, Susan Korday
BIRTH DATE / PLACE: July 9, 1943, Seville, Spain, in the barrio of Ciudad Jardin (around 1950 her family moved to the barrio of Triana and lived in El Corral de la Perla courtyard)
DEATH DATE / PLACE: August 18, 1970, Hospital of San José, Lisbon, Portugal (as the result of a car accident on the Costa del Sol expressway near the Hotel Estoril-Sol)
PARENTS: father Juan Antón, mother Mercedes (he worked in a fish warehouse, overseeing boats; she worked in a match factory)
SIBLINGS: Ana, Armando, Carmen, Mercedes, and María Elena (two brothers and three sisters, all younger)
FAMOUS RELATIVE: singer/actress Paquita Rico (a first cousin of Soledad's father)
EDUCATION: she left formal school when she became a professional dancer (around age 8), but studied dance, song, diction, languages, and art throughout her life
HUSBAND: José Manuel Simões (a Portuguese racecar driver; they married in 1966 in Lisbon, Portugal; he then retired from racing and took a high office in the auto industry)
CHILD: son José Antonio ("Tony"; born April 7, 1967)
GODDAUGHTER: Angelina Montes (niece of bullfighter Manuel Benítez "El Cordobés", christened in 1963)

EYES / HAIR: alternately reported to be dark olive, brown, or black / dark brown (sometimes dyed blonde or red)
HEIGHT / WEIGHT / WAIST: 5 feet 5 inches (1,66 meters) / 106-119 pounds (48-54 kilos) / 21 inches (55 cm)
LANGUAGES SPOKEN: Spanish, Portuguese, English, and some French, Italian, and German
FAVORITE COLOR / VICE / FILM: Blue (1963); Red and White (1965) / Smoking / Gone With the Wind
FAVORITE ACTRESSES: Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren, Nuria Torray, Greta Garbo, Doris Day, Shirley MacLaine
FAVORITE ACTORS: Clark Gable, Peter O'Toole
FAVORITE DIRECTORS: Rafael Gil, Julio Coll, Manuel Summers, Miguel Picazo, Carlos Saura, Jorge Grau
FAVORITE MUSIC / BAND / SINGER: popular and classical / Up With People! / Mary Hopkin
HOBBIES: singing, dancing, reading, studying languages, painting, drawing, writing poetry, watching movies (she went 3-4 times a week, preferring American ones), swimming, horseback riding, snow skiing, shopping, family, cooking, doll collecting (she had over 200)
PERSON SHE MOST ADMIRED: Alexander Fleming (he discovered penicillin)
LIKED: perfumes, cloth, smart men
DISLIKED: travelling by boat

PROFESSIONAL DEBUT / FILM DEBUT: flamenco singer and dancer, age eight / dancer in La bella Mimí, age sixteen
FAVORITE PERFORMANCE GENRE: dramatic film
FAVORITE PERFORMANCE GIVEN: in Currito de la Cruz (she affirmed this throughout her career)
ROLE SHE'D MOST LIKE TO PLAY: Scarlett O'Hara (from Gone With the Wind)
ACTOR SHE'D MOST LIKE TO WORK WITH: Anthony Perkins
UNREALIZED ASPIRATIONS: making another record, publishing a book


Soledad Miranda Trivia

Soledad's artistic last name, Miranda, was drawn out of a hat. Soledad chose her artistic surname by surprise: she put several surnames on different papers, placed them in a hat, and the "innocent hand" drew that of Miranda. Soledad had dreamed of acting since the first time she saw her aunt Paquita Rico on film, in Debla, la virgen gitana (The Gypsy Virgin, 1951). Interestingly enough, Miranda is the last name of a couple of characters in the film. Perhaps that's why Miranda was one of the names in the hat! She took a stage name after being told Rendón didn't sound good enough.

Soledad's screen name in most of her Jess Franco movies is Susann Korda (alternately spelled Susan Korday). Tim Lucas presumed years ago that the name was made up by Jess Franco based on two famous names: film producer Alexander Korda and author Jacqueline Susann. However, there was a German film actress named Susanne Korda (born in 1940) and Jess Franco is known to borrow names of other performers. According to Franco's own associate Kevin Collins: "I sat in on an interview once and Jess did say that he took the name from a German actress. Jess does not usually combine names. He takes names from obscure or relatively unknown artists for whom he has a particular affinity. Susan (or Susanne) Korda is no different than Lina Romay, the name purloined hook, line and sinker from Xavier Cugat's singer of the '40s and '50s. As for the 'Susanne' part, Jess pointed out that he never read her books and really hated Valley of the Dolls, so he'd certainly not use any reference to her to create a name for his dream actress, Soledad. As a rule of thumb, you can usually assume that any pseudonym used by Franco is a name taken - as an homage - from a Jazz artist or Hollywood technician or a European actor or actress from days gone by." Click here for a picture of the real Susanne Korda.

Soledad considered becoming a nun when she was a teenager. According to an interview she gave in her twenties, when she was sixteen years old she intended to become a nun. However, at the same time an offer came in for a role in a movie of a girl going to live in a convent (Canción de Cuna). Soledad chose the role and the rest is history. Thank goodness!

There is a Soledad Miranda Street in Seville, Spain! Her hometown honored her by naming a small street after her... using her stage name of course. Calle de Soledad Miranda is in the northeastern part of Sevilla. Thanks to Google maps, I have been able to get pictures. It looks more like a pedestrian walkway, but there is a sign with her name on it. Thanks to fan Carlos for the picture of the sign!

      
      

© Amy Brown