Emilio Fernández bigraphy, stories - Film director

Emilio Fernández : biography

1904-3-26 - 1986-8-6

Emilio "El Indio" Fernández (born Emilio Fernández Romo, ; March 26, 1904 – August 6, 1986) was an actor, screenwriter and director of the cinema of Mexico. He is best known for his work as director of the film Maria Candelaria which won the Grand Prix at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.

A close friend of Dolores del Río, who was married to Cedric Gibbons, designer of the original Academy Award, Fernández was the model who posed for the naked knight holding a sword now known worldwide as "Oscar".

Model for the Oscar statuette

In 1928, MGM's art director Cedric Gibbons, one of the original Academy Award members, supervised the design of the award trophy by printing the design on a scroll. In need of a model for his statuette Gibbons was introduced by his future wife Dolores del Río to Mexican film director Emilio "El Indio" Fernández. Reluctant at first, Fernández was finally convinced to pose nude to create what today is known as the "Oscar".

Personal life

Fernández lived from 1949 until his death with the Mexican actress Columba Dominguez, who had a daughter named Jacaranda. Fernandez also had another adopted daughter named Adela.

From 1964 - 1970 Emilio was married to Beatriz Castaneda From Durango.

Fernández was in love with his muse, Dolores del Rio, but she never corresponded his love. In 1945, he was linked romantically with the British American actress Olivia de Havilland.

Notable film collaborations

  • Gabriel Figueroa

Considered the premier Cinematographer of Mexico's Época de oro, between 1930–1960, Figueroa was nominated for several awards, including the Oscar in 1964. Worked as DP on twenty-five projects with Fernandez including the Palme d'Or winning María Candelaria, Flor Silvestre and the multi-Ariel winning Enamorada. Together they glorified "Mexico's landscapes, dramatic, cloud-laced skies, and more importantly, its stoic Indian faces."Mora, Carl J. Mexican Cinema: Reflections of Society 1896–1988. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989, 58.

  • Pedro Armendáriz

Very much El Indio's Alter-ego on the screen, the charismatic Armendáriz dominated and defined Mexican cinema in the 1940s, often as a foil and lover to Fernandez's muse Dolores del Río. Starred in the first film that Fernandez directed (1941's Isla de la pasión) and many of his most iconic most notably as the cursed pearl fisherman in the 1947 adaptation of La Perla.

  • Dolores del Río

A massive silent star in the Hollywood of the 1920s, her career faded during the sound era and despite her appearance (in a rather natty leopardskin leotard) in Orson Welles' 1943 film Journey into Fear it seemed like her best years were behind her. That was until Fernandez offered her the lead role the following year in Flor Silvestre. This was a triumph and saw her relaunched in her home country – and incidentally in her first Spanish language role – as a major icon. Six further collaborations followed including the film that defined Mexico's Golden Age – Maria Candelaria.

  • María Félix

Directed by Fernandez in Enamorada (1946), Río Escondido (1947), Maclovia (1948), Reportaje and El Rapto (1953)

  • Columba Dominguez

His wife and mother of his daughter, Jacaranda. She was directed by Fernández in the classic Pueblerina (1949) and other movies like La Malquerida (1949), Cuando levanta la niebla (1951) and Pueblito (1961) among others

  • Sam Peckinpah

A notable performance in the film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and as one of the main antagonists in The Wild Bunch.

  • Charles Bronson

Played an inmate along with the iconic action star in the movie Breakout.

  • John Wayne

Small part in the film The War Wagon

  • Yul Brynner
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