Latinos are acknowledged to be the fastest growing population group in the United States, and this sizeable collection allows us to study the varying ways in which Latinos have been depicted in film over the past ninety years, and how Latino stars were marketed and promoted via Hollywood’s public relations machine.
Even in the silent era, there were major Latino stars, such as Lupe Velez and Dolores Del Rio (both strongly represented in this collection). In the nineteen-thirties and early nineteen-forties, actors such as Cesar Romero and Carmen Miranda often portrayed Latino characters, usually in lighter comedies and musicals. In the post-World War II era, Latino actors such as Ricardo Montalban and Fernando Lamas emerged as legitimate stars in a wide range of films, some of which (like BORDER INCIDENT, in this collection) attempt a more realistic view of social problems. Early television icons like THE CISCO KID of the nineteen-fifties gradually yielded to the gentle but more reality-based character of Chico in the nineteen-seventies’ CHICO AND THE MAN.
The collection is focused primarily on portrayals of Latino characters in film. However, many of the great Latino movie stars in Hollywood films – Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quinn, Lupe Velez, Cesar Romero, for instance – portrayed many different kinds of roles during their long careers, and this collection reveals some of the diversity of their work. Although the bulk of the items here are associated with Hollywood movies, there are some examples of Cuban, Mexican, and South American film, as well as a collection of campaign sheets and posters from Britain, Italy, Mexico, Cuba, and other countries (based on Hollywood releases).