8 Little-Known Facts About the Iconic María Félix

Graphic design that features a portrait of María Félix
Luz Media

María Félix, also known as “La Doña” or “María Bonita,” is one of the most iconic Mexican actresses to grace the silver screen during the golden age of Mexican cinema, achieving international fame and diva status. Her perception as an icon goes beyond her fantastic work as an actress, though. She was a larger-than-life figure who, with her talent, strong will, femininity, progressive mindset, and unapologetically lived life has inspired generations of Latina women.

Whether you know a little or a lot about María Félix already, we bring you 8 little-known facts about the famed actress.

8 Little-Known Facts About María Félix

1. María Félix didn’t chase stardom, stardom found her

Whether you believe in fate or not, sometimes it’s very difficult to deny its magic. It seems that María Félix experienced some of that magic because she didn’t pursue stardom, it pursued her. Her entire career stemmed from a chance encounter on Palma Street. It was 1941 and Félix was just window-shopping for antiques when she was approached by Fernando Palacios, a Spanish movie director, with the suggestion that she should be a movie star. He eventually took her to Los Angeles to the Metro Goldwyn-Mayer studio and though they offered a debut in Hollywood, she decided to start her career in Mexico. The rest, as they say, is history.

2. She was an avid antique collector

Speaking of antiques, María Félix was an avid antique collector. Throughout her life, she amassed a vast collection that included Jacob Petit ceramics, sketches by Christian Dior, portraits of herself signed by different artists, sets of sheets, carpets, textiles, tableware, handbags, and shoes. This obsession with antiques goes back to 1925 when she was 11 years old and her brothers gifted her a Jacob Petit porcelain box. That would be the first piece of her nineteenth-century collection, which she treasured.

3. She unknowingly ate human flesh

In 1951, María Félix was filming “La Corona Negra” (“The Black Crown”) in Morocco. The film was made by Jean Cocteau and her character was tangled up in a detective plot. While in Morocco, the local Sheikh of Chefchaouen invited Félix, Cocteau, and others from the crew to a banquet. Later in life, in an interview with Mexican journalist Ricardo Rocha, Félix revealed that she tried the food without knowing what it was. After tasting it, she was told the meat was human. “I became an anthropophagist, but not voluntarily,” she said. Conversely, that was her last interview before she died in 2002 at the age of 88.

4. Her first husband kept her locked away

María Félix’s first marriage happened when she was only 17 years old and she wanted to be free from the control of her parents. She married Enrique Álvarez, a sales representative of Max Factor, and they moved to Guadalajara. However, her husband was deeply insecure and jealous, so she spent most of her time at home. It’s reported they only went out to the movies and he made sure they arrived when the movie theater was already dark and left right before the movie ended so no other man saw how beautiful she was. Félix finally left him in 1937 when she discovered he had an STD and was cheating on her.

5. María Félix was proposed to by a king

At one of the highest points of her fame, when everyone was enchanted by her personality and talent, María Félix got an indecent proposal from King Farouk, the King of Egypt. Reportedly, he offered her the crown of Nefertiti, one of the things he treasured the most, for just one night with her. Though Félix was known for her passion for jewelry and antiques, it seems she didn’t accept that royal offer.

6. She predicted the rise of feminist movements

In 1996, when she was on the TV show “La Tocada,”, María Félix spoke one of her many iconic quotes by saying, "When women are in the majority, we will rule." In that interview, she was very open about how unhappy she was about the injustices that she saw Mexican women facing at that time. She talked about how laws would be created to defend women and asserted that machismo was one of the greatest evils in the world. Essentially, she predicted women’s rise on a big scale, and her words have been proven right by the actions and achievements of feminist movements.

7. Mattel made a tribute Barbie for her

In 2023, Mattel created a collectible Barbie paying tribute to María Félix. The beautiful doll, which captures Félix’s beauty and features, as well as her fashion style, fierceness, and female power, was designed by Carlyle Nuera. The doll is part of the Tribute collection, which honors many amazing women from all over the world, exposing them to wider audiences. The collection includes other Latina figures, such as Celia Cruz, Frida Kahlo, and Gloria Estefan.

8. People thought María Félix made a deal with the devil

We often hear this kind of speculation about rock bands like Led Zeppelin, but it was also said of María Félix. Her beauty was such and she rose to fame so quickly that many thought she sold her soul. In hindsight, these rumors were likely the result of misogyny. After all, Félix refused to conform to gender roles and she lived life on her terms without apology. Back then, instead of being admired for that, she was accused of satanism and dealing with the occult to obtain her charm and success.

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