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Virginia Sánchez Rodríguez1 Associate Professor at the UCM. She holds a PhD in Musicology (2013), BA in Art History (2009), Master in Hispanic Music (2010), Master in Teacher Training (2011), Professional Degree in Music (2006) and Expert in Cultural Management (2016). Her main field of research includes the study of music inserted in audiovisual contexts. She is a member of the Project R + D + i “The popular song as a source of inspiration” (USAL) and research collaborator of the Center for Musical Research and Documentation UCLM (CSIC Associated Unit). She was conferred the 2013 Research Award for Best Doctoral Thesis (SGAE Foundation) and the 2015 “Rosario Valpuesta” Research Award (Council of Seville).

1Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha. Spain

Until a few decades ago, Spanish cinema produced during Franco Regime (1939-1975) seemed to be surrounded by some omission and underestimation, despite the heterogeneity of productions developed in such a long and complex period. Fortunately, academic studies have observed the growth of research in this context in recent years. According to that fact, in this paper we propose an approach to the film industry of that time with a feminine view. From the chronological point of view, this study offers an approach to cinema produced during the Developism (1959-1975) through the actresses who were part of the audiovisual discipline. Since the late fifties we can observe how a group of women managed to get into the film industry as directors, producers or writers. However, most feminine visibility even fell on those women who worked as actresses, showing a range of ways of dealing with life as diverse as the film characters to which they gave life. In this study, mainly we offer an approach to the different ways in which these actresses were integrated into the film industry, offering a proposal of professional profiles.

KEYWORDS: Spanish Cinema, Franco’s Regime, Developism, Woman, Actress, Gender Roles

Hasta hace unas décadas, el cine español elaborado durante el franquismo (1939-1975) parecía encontrarse rodeado de cierto olvido y menosprecio, a pesar de la heterogeneidad de producciones desarrolladas en un período tan extenso y complejo. Afortunadamente, el ámbito académico ha observado el crecimiento de las investigaciones en este contexto en los últimos años. De acuerdo con esa situación, en este trabajo proponemos una aproximación a la industria fílmica de la citada época con una mirada femenina. Desde el punto de vista cronológico, en este estudio ofrecemos un acercamiento al cine elaborado durante el Desarrollismo (1959-1975) a través de las actrices que formaron parte de la disciplina audiovisual. Desde finales de los años cincuenta observamos cómo un grupo de mujeres logró adentrarse en los entresijos del medio como directoras, productoras o guionistas. Sin embargo, la mayor visibilidad femenina aún recaía sobre aquellas mujeres que trabajaban como actrices, mostrando un abanico de mentalidades y de formas de enfrentarse a la vida tan diverso como los propios personajes cinematográficos a los que dieron vida. En este estudio principalmente ofrecemos una mirada sobre los distintos modos en que estas mujeres se integraron en la industria fílmica, ofreciendo una propuesta de perfiles profesionales.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Cine español, Franquismo, Desarrollismo, Mujer, Actriz, Roles de género

Até há umas décadas, o cinema espanhol elaborado durante o franquismo (1939-1975) parecia encontrar-se rodeado de certo esquecimento e menosprezo, apesar da heterogeneidade de produções desenvolvidas em um período tão extenso e complexo. Afortunadamente, o âmbito acadêmico observou o crescimento das investigações neste contexto nos últimos anos. De acordo com essa situação, neste trabalho propomos uma aproximação à indústria fílmica da citada época com um olhar feminino. Desde o ponto de vista cronológico, neste estudo oferecemos uma aproximação ao cinema elaborado durante o DESARROLISMO (1959-1975) através das atrizes que formaram parte da disciplina audiovisual. Desde finais dos anos cinquenta observamos como um grupo de mulheres logrou adentrar-se nas entranhas do cine como diretoras, produtoras ou roteiristas. Sem embargo, a maior visibilidade feminina ainda recaia sobre aquelas mulheres que trabalhavam como atrizes, mostrando um abanico de mentalidades e de formas de enfrentar-se a vida tão diversos como os próprios personagens cinematográficos aos que deram vida. Neste estudo principalmente oferecemos um olhar sobre os distintos modos em que estas mulheres se integraram na indústria fílmica, oferecendo uma proposta de perfis profissionais.

PALAVRAS CHAVE: Cinema espanhol, Franquismo, Desarrollismo, Mulher, Atriz, Papéis de gênero

Received: 22/07/2017
Accepted: 02/09/2017
Published: 15/03/2018

Correspondence: Virginia Sánchez Rodríguez.

How to cite the article
Sánchez Rodríguez, V. (2018). Professional profiles of actresses in Spanish cinema during Desarrollismo (1959-1975) [Perfiles profesionales de las actrices del cine español del Desarrollismo (1959-1975)].
Vivat Academia. Revista de Comunicación, nº 142, 19-37
Recuperado de:


Cinema is one of the most characteristic products of contemporary society, not only because it is one of the most acclaimed cultural industries but because the different artistic expressions that make up this environment make it possible to reflect the traits of present and bygone societies, recreating our past, our culture, our history. In fact, the academia has gradually become aware of the value of cinema as a source of knowledge of the past, which is why in recent years studies focused on the audiovisual media have undergone considerable development. However, in certain circles, cinema has undergone some neglect and contempt for being considered only a mass spectacle, especially in the case of Spanish cinema produced under Franco’s regime (1939-1975).
Although the films created during Franco’s government had received little attention and a certain contempt until a few decades ago, the truth is that cinema, as an artistic product proper to an era, can provide historical information through what happens to our eyes and according to the circumstances surrounding the industry itself. Thus, the films themselves can be understood as sources that provide data on how the society of the time was and, according to the focus of our work, the place of women in life and in the field of cinema. And, despite the limited presence of women in public life during the regime, women managed to gain a foothold in the film industry at the time, both in front and behind the camera.
According to female visibility in the cinema of Franco’s regime, in this paper we propose a study on the various professional profiles of those women who enjoyed greater presence in the films developed during Franco’s regime, with special attention to the stage of Developism (1959-1975). For this, and after making a brief tour of the historical and social aspects related to the situation of women, we offer an approach to the existence of different profiles of women who participated in this professional context, primarily as actresses.


The first objective of this piece of research is to gain greater knowledge of cinema carried out during the stage of developism (1959-1975). In our opinion, this context is of great importance from the socio-political and cultural point of view as it shows the economic and social progress of Franco’s regime. Second, the focus of this paper aims to understand the situation of women in this period, because they were most affected by the arrival of the dictatorial regime, especially if compared with the social achievements acquired previously to the Spanish Civil War.
Another objective of this paper is to make an approach to the female presence around the professional field of cinema. In the decade of the sixties, there was a group of women who managed to get into the intricacies of the medium as directors, producers or writers, despite women’s greater visibility even fell on those who worked as actresses. On this occasion, we will pay our greatest attention to those women who participated in the most widespread work in the industry, the actresses.
Finally, from the attention to women who worked in front of the cameras, we will establish various categories related to the way some of the most visible female performers accessed the film industry during Developism. Ultimately, this piece of research seeks to obtain more knowledge about the image of women in that era and about the place of women in the film industry as actresses.


To comply with the previously mentioned objectives, we have developed a heterogeneous and transversal methodology that, in turn, has been determined by the consulted sources. In that regard, it should be noted, first, that we have also worked with primary and secondary sources.
The core of this paper includes primary sources, composed of films of the era. We have made an approach to almost a hundred tapes developed from 1959 to 1975, the chronological context of our study. However, the selection of audiovisual objects has not been made arbitrarily, but we have accessed mainly those films in which a director of certain visibility at the time converges with the presence of an actress who was illustrative from the sociopolitical point of view of developism –either because of fame, or because she represented, in a majority, the feminine population. Simultaneously, we have taken into account that the female role played by the actress in question will feature some plot relevance in each selected sample. In that sense, we have approached titles like Viridiana (1961, Luis Buñuel, The Great Family (1962, Fernando Palacios), Nine Letters to Bertha (1966, Basilio Martín Patino) or But ... in What Country We Live! (1967, José Luis Sáenz de Heredia), among other films that we will promptly discuss in relation to the results obtained.
In parallel, we have accessed secondary sources that may offer more information on general aspects proper to the context in which we find ourselves. In this regard, volumes of a historical and cinematic nature are noteworthy (Moradiellos Garcia, 2000; Tamames, 1981; Gubern, Monterde, Perez Perucha, Riambau, Torreiro, 2009; Lazarus Reboll, Willis, 2004), secondary sources related to the social status of women (Scanlon, 1986; Muñoz Sánchez, 2006, pp 118-128) and other audiovisual studies focusing on aspects that take into account the recreation of gender roles through audiovisual elements or the presence of women in the film industry (Sanchez Rodriguez, 2013; Sanchez Rodriguez, 2015).
Beyond reviewing the sources listed as the theoretical framework of our study, from a methodological point of view it is important to note that in this paper we provide a categorization of various professional profiles of the actresses who worked in the film industry during Developism. We should note that this is only a personal proposal that aims to stimulate reflection on the female labor diversity and has been carried out in response to specific parameters, as we have previously mentioned: actresses who worked in some of the more visible films at the time, with directors of some prestige, and who played significant roles in accordance with the historical and political situation of Spain. Therefore, it is significant to reiterate that the establishment of the various categories is a personal proposal of an artistic nature, from the primary and secondary sources we have worked with, and taking into account other parameters, it would be possible to establish other categories with the same legitimacy.


During the Developism (1959-1975) the international isolation of Spain after the international isolation came to end, among other actions, with the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the establishment of Franco’s regime with the victory of the national or Nationalist faction. From the point of view of growth in the country since 1961, following the reduction of the government deficit and thanks to the reception of abundant foreign investment, Spain began a rapid economic growth (Moradiellos Garcia, 2000, p. 135) thanks to governmental actions, such as the development of various development plans since 1963 based on tax incentives and state aid, the first of them entering into force in January 1964 (Tamames, 1981, p. 422). From a social and cultural viewpoint, the sixties meant, also, a flourishing period characterized by population growth, improved purchasing power and increased consumption around cultural industries.
In the film world, the protagonist of our study, along the developism films, there is a multifaceted and rich panorama, as recorded in the audiovisual productions of the time. Despite the different personalities of the filmmakers who developed their work at that time, we can distinguish three main aesthetic tendencies that already began to have great visibility in the sixties. Thus, on the one hand, there is a commercial cinema next to the tenets of the regime, with the development of stories for all people with an emotional and ideologically-linked-to-the-government approach. On the other hand, since the late fifties a more avant-garde cinema, ideologically away from government and proposing new ways of looking at the world began to develop, resulting in currents as the New Spanish Cinema or the School of Barcelona. Also, in parallel, since the late sixties, and in as a result of the little success of the most avant-garde line, the so-called Third Way began to develop, from a renewal of the medium from a technical point of view along with keeping commercial story lines to achieve success with the public.
Now, the films made during Developism, regardless of the ideology of the directors and aesthetics, according to our feminine approach, do not offer a uniform image of the Spanish woman: through the various samples we can glimpse different types of women who reflect the social structure and historical overview of the period from the artistic viewpoint. And this heterogeneity is observed not only through the characters that are part of the stories of the tapes, but also through the configuration of the audiovisual industry itself.

4.1. Women in the audiovisual industry of Developism (1959-1975)

Although it is difficult to locate female figures in positions of responsibility at the dawn of Spanish cinema and during Franco’s regime, the fact is that some women dared to dive into a world considered being for men. In fact, during Franco’s regime, there were directors like Ana Mariscal or Josefina Molina, and even we are aware of the presence of the female composer of films Ana Satrova, although her activity was linked exclusively to the work done by her husband, director José María Zabalza. Therefore, we can say that the place of women in the Spanish audiovisual world was linked mostly to their appearance in front of the cameras, but not in exclusives.
Still, the dearth of women working in cinema, as compared to men, is obvious. In fact, everything around the film industry did not have a good social consideration, partly because of the lessons inculcated of how a decent woman should be in Spain during the Regime. Let us remember that the primary objective of most Spanish women during Franco’s regime, especially until the 1960s, was the exclusive dedication to their home as wives or mothers. It is true that not all women assumed that private role, and that not all of society thought the same way, but those were the principles that were instilled into the young through the implementation of the Social Service Feminine Section. Although Franco had no direct link, the Commission ensured to preserve and instill principles related to social standards and morality, as indicated by Geraldine M. Scanlon:

In order to ensure that social reality was in harmony with the concept of woman inherent in the law, the task of educating women of Spain to the Women’s Section was entrusted. Jose Antonio said little about women, but the little he said was too clear. In a speech to the women of the village of Don Benito, he said the Phalanx was the party of women, because it did not use gallantry, relegating women to a frivolous and decorative paper or feminism:

– We do not understand how to respect women consists of evading their magnificent destiny and deliver them to manly functions. I have always been sad to see women in exercises of men, all anxious and deranged in a rivalry in which they (among the morbid complacency of male competitors) are likely to lose. True feminism should not be to want for women today’s functions that are estimated higher, but to wrap the female roles with more human and social dignity.

While men were selfish, he continued, women lavished the virtue of selflessness, exalted by the Phalanx, “women accept a life of submission, of service, of a self-sacrificing offering to a task” (1) . The ideology of the Women’s Section, as it was, faithfully reflected not only the ideas of Jose Antonio (too foggy in themselves to constitute an ideology), but also the doctrines of their German and Italian models (Scanlon, 1986, pp. 322-323).

(1) Cfr. J. A. Primo de Rivera, Obras Completas, pp. 167-168.

Regardless of theoretical and ideological questions the truth is that, despite the actions cited by the Administration, it did not exist a unified image of the woman following Franco’s regime, because, in the society of the time, there were other women who thought their life should go beyond what was stipulated by the government or simply did not take on the conventions proper to that time, keeping the same mentality as before the outbreak of the war.
This lack of unity in the representation of female identity in the society of the sixties has been reflected in the magazines of the time (2) and also in the films of that moment, hence the focus of our work. So, if we make an approach to the films made under the Regime, we can draw two conclusions. On the one hand, the image of women offered in such an extensive filmography is multifaceted and diverse. On the other hand, the actresses who gave life to the characters that reflected a heterogeneous feminine image also showed, in turn, great diversity because, while some of them went into the cinema by family tradition, others came to that industry and represented the female society of their time almost by chance. Because of the results drawn about this last aspect, then we discuss this aspect in detail.

(2) Cfr. Muñoz Sánchez, 2006, pp. 118-128.

4.2. Professional profiles in the developism cinema

The place of women in the society of Franco’s regime has also been reflected in the films of that time, as we are pointing out. However, as just indicated, first it is crucial to note that attention to the actresses of the time in this paper is because women mainly worked on the film industry in front of the cameras. In that sense, we consider it essential to emphasize the place of actresses in the film industry of the sixties, female workers who gave life to heterogeneous characters, since the job of being an actress not only meant a special professional world but also it did not enjoy the same social status and glamour as today.
In the Spanish cinema from 1959 to 1975, the presence of a group of actresses in a large number of films of the time was common; that is, a small number of women working in a large number of films, while in the 21st century the situation is the opposite. This reality is also maintained in the case of men and was but the result of a film industry that had a professional control through the artist card.
In any case, we can say that, during Developism, there was a real star system, especially recreated in the cinema nearest the Regime, through female artists, although their physical canons or circumstances determined this star system really distant from the star system exposed by the American and European industries. Some of the actresses who were part of this typically Spanish star system during Developism, for their intense audiovisual activity and their social value, were Concha Velasco, Gracita Morales, Rafaela Aparicio, Amparo Soler Leal, Isabel Garcés, Marisol, Sara Montiel or Rocio Durcal, the three latter being the most musical out of those just mentioned.
These artists contributed their acting skills and their image to the recreation of a female prototype given in each of the samples which they participated, perhaps because, within that system, their image as actresses also championed the ideals that each of them represented through their characters in the films in which they participated, showing clear typecasting. Simile modo, in those films being furthest from the regime, especially those related to the New Spanish Cinema, it was also common the presence of good actresses who, with their performance, offered a particular proposal on a particular type of woman, sometimes opposite to the traditional one. However, the participation of the actresses in the most modern cinemas meant the abandonment of typecasting which usually took placed in their professional careers through participation exclusively on commercial projects, either due to the ideological affiliation of the actresses or because the official films of commercial aesthetics were the most numerous and the ones that, even in the sixties, still continued to receive the largest subsidies.
During Franco’s regime, the image of the actress woman began to enjoy greater recognition and social status, especially since the fifties and sixties. In fact, some of these actresses, especially those involved in commercial films of the sixties, were selected to travel the world as ambassadors of the ideals of a nation through their image, their mentality or their professional background. The musical talent or beauty was the best advertising claims to show Spain as an advanced, progressive and talented country abroad. In this regard, Marisol and Sara Montiel were some of the most internationally promoted artists, as shown in some reports of NODE, played previously to the films in official movie theaters.
While it is true that there was still no structure of performance training for the career of an actress, the most common thing was that actresses began to be trained in theater companies, which subsequently, with the advance of the decades and the development of the industry, means the presence of women and girls who accessed the movies for different reasons and with different profiles. Therefore, the jump to popularity and to Hollywood came from different routes. In this respect, next we propose five major profiles observed from the assessment of the professional circumstances of great actresses of Developism.

4.2.1. Blood actresses

During Franco’s regime, a large number of women habitually participated in movies according to their family history. This circumstance was not –neither is it- a strange aspect since, as in any context, it may seem normal that parents can instill love for their profession into their children. Still, the reasons for this could have been several. On the one hand, at that time there were no formal studies for film actors as such and also in the sixties, many men and women continued to be trained in theatrical companies, alone or with the joint participation of their families, allowing them to obtain pecuniary benefits needed to survive. On the other hand, the acting profession within the film industry was a task that used to develop from generation to generation because of the difficulties of accessing the cinema world for all those who were outside the industry, but at least it was for lack of information on this job, especially compared to the age of information and communication in which we are immersed.
Anyway, the truth is that, during Franco’s regime, it was common to find young actresses belonging to families of artists of previous decades. Such is the case of María Isbert (1917-2011), the daughter of the great actor José Isbert (1886-1966). She started in the film industry in the decade of the forties and since then actively participated in a large number of movies. The Stroller (1960, Marco Ferreri), Bachelor’s Party (1961 Eugenio Martín), The Great Family (1962, Fernando Palacios) and The Executioner (1963, Luis Garcia Berlanga) are some of the titles of the sixties in which María Isbert coincided with her father. The pace of work of the actress in the chronology of our study was frantic; in fact the number of films in which she participated in the sixties was more than thirty and she worked both in movies of commercial cinema and in other movies aesthetically and ideologically closer to the avant-garde, although she mostly participated in supporting roles. That survival of heterogeneous cinematic aesthetic in which María Isbert worked can already be verified in 1961, the date in which she also participated in official projects and in other projects far from the regime. The Pardon (1961, José Luis Sáenz de Heredia) is a commercial film starring Concha Velasco and Pedro Armendariz. Also, on the same date, and facing her proper pure role in The Pardon, María Isbert also worked in Viridiana (1961, Luis Buñuel), one of the most controversial films in Franco’s regime.
Meanwhile, the Rabal-Balaguer family, one of the most famous families of Spanish cinema, also enjoyed great visibility along Developism. Francisco Rabal (1926-2001) was one of the most international actors, whose legacy means a vestige of the history of Spain in the second half of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, Asuncion Balaguer (1925) is also part of cinema but not only as the wife of Rabal, although the actress made her personal life prevail on the professional one to look after her children. That dedication to her role as a wife and a mother explains her little participation in audiovisual projects from 1960 to 1970. Still, in the early sixties, Asuncion Balaguer participated in 091 Policeman Speaking (1960, José María Forqué), where she gave life to the character of Elena, besides being part of the film The Road (1963, Ana Mariscal), playing the mother of Daniel ‘the Owl’. Years later, Balaguer also worked in the movies Maria Rosa (1965, Armando Moreno) and the saga Challenges (1969, Rafael Azona), in which she coincided with her husband.
Even Teresa Rabal (1952), a daughter of the couple, participated in the cinema of these years, which supports the introduction to the profession as love instilled into the family. The actress began in the industry, continuing the family tradition, in Viridiana (1961, Luis Buñuel), where Francisco Rabal played the character of Don Jaime, the uncle of Viridiana. The little girl, meanwhile, gave life to the character of Rita, the daughter of the maid of the family. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the child breathes life into a character which, despite being surrounded by the innocence of her age, is surrounded by the high symbolism surrounding her actions. This fact can be verified when the little girl observed through the window the unhealthy obsession of Don Jaime with Viridiana, his niece, or even through the last sequences of the film in which the girl throws a crown of thorns into the fire after being pricked, a clear criticism of the Catholic religion.
Meanwhile, Amparo Soler Leal (1933-2013) is another of the female names of the decade. Being the daughter of actors Salvador Soler Marí (1900-1976) and Milagros Leal (1902-1975), she debuted in the theater in the late forties, an area where she was very successful, to the point of creating her own company in the year 1960. She started in the world of cinema due to family tradition in the late fifties, but her greatest hits date from the sixties. An approach to the filmography of the time shows her usual presence embodying traditional roles of women, participating mainly in commercial projects. In this respect, her films The Great Family (1962, Fernando Palacios), Saint Valentine Returns (1962, Fernando Palacios), La Becerrada (1963, José María Forqué) o Those Who Must Serve (1967, José María Forqué) stand out, she co-starred in them all. But not only her professional life and her family history linked her to the film industry but also her love life was also linked to the cinema, because she was married to actor Adolfo Marsillach until 1965. The Caba-Alba family also participated significantly in movies of this era. Actor Pascual Alba (1850-1895) is the patriarch of all subsequent generations that have addressed the scope of performance with the surname Alba and then Caba Alba. His daughter Irene Alba (1873-1930) tradition instilled the tradition into her offspring through actresses Julia (1902-1988) and Irene Caba Alba (1899-1957), the mother of actors Emilio (1942), Irene (1930-1995 ) and Julia Gutiérrez Caba (1932). The place of all in the cultural panorama of the twentieth century is undeniable, not to mention the visibility of the last three in the 1960s. But, because of its complexity and its long tradition, deepening all of them will have to wait for another time.
Here are some cases of women who have a family history in the film industry. As we are discussing, it is not isolated cases, but that family involvement was a common fact of accessing the acting work in an unattainable world for much of the Spanish population of Franco’s time, as was the case of cinema. However, the quality of the mentioned actresses who learned the trade by family tradition and who developed their career during the Developism, and those impossible to mention due to the limited size of this study is amply demonstrated from the bill of their work and the Spanish films in which they worked at that time. That is, the intention of this study is not to question the quality of those women who embarked in the office of actresses thanks to the knowledge of that environment due to family circumstances but to note this circumstance as an employment option for Spanish women during that era.

4.2.2. Actress of evolution

This group refers to those professionals in the sixties that, without family tradition, managed to gradually gain a foothold in the Spanish film industry. This is the case of most actresses of that moment because, even though there were great names of illustrious families linked to the environment, as just mentioned, participation in films was not only a familiar field. In the case of the professionals in this group, usually the promotion process began by accepting small supporting roles until, their talent being proved, they were gaining more minutes on stage and greater relevance in the plot story and the medium itself. Sometimes these actresses managed to reach the leading role in certain films while, in other cases, they continued to have, gladly, supporting roles.
One of the actresses who in this study we call “of evolution” is Concha Velasco (1939). Born in Valladolid, despite her training in the dance world, it was the world of acting what catapulted her to success, making her one of the best known faces of Spanish cinema. Concha Velasco has her legacy with an extensive filmography, not to mention her work in the theater and in television series. From 1959 to 1975, Concha Velasco played a variety of roles in more than thirty films, each corresponding with a commercial aesthetic, some of them as a protagonist, as seen in Subzero Love (1960, Ricardo Blasco), Stories of Television (1965, José Luis Sáenz de Heredia), But ... what Country We Live in (1967, José Luis Sáenz de Heredia) or Once A Year, Being A Hippy Does Not Hurt (1968, Javier Aguirre), among other samples. Her career is a paradigmatic example of an actress of evolution that is still active in theater, film and television fields today.
Another actress who managed to gain a foothold in the Spanish films of the moment was Laly Soldevila (1933-1979), the everlasting interpreter of supporting roles in the scope of our study. She had her first artistic contacts in the Spanish University Theater, where her training began. From then on she devoted herself to the theatrical field until she started in the movie Alone at Last (1955, José María Elorrieta). Her sharp voice and slightly ungainly diction are two of her most exploited characteristics for humorous purposes, leading to the performance of prototypes of a comic woman in films. Sometimes, the shortness of the roles she played in her career determines that the characters to which Laly Soldevilla gave life are not representative of relevant aspects of the argument but, no doubt, her distinctive voice and her way of performing are unquestionably memorable and they are one of the hallmarks of the way of doing comedy during Franco’s regime.
In the case of Lina Morgan (1937-2015), the actress began in the artistic world also from dance. After studying classical dance, she was part of children’s companies and later worked as a dancer in several revues. In the sixties, she began to be popular in the theater as a comic actress and in the same decade she made an incursion into cinema with small roles. Linked to the commercial aesthetic, as seen in her supporting roles or as supporting actor in Poor Garcia (1961, Tony Leblanc), Those Who Must Serve (1967, José María Forqué) or Underdeveloped (1968, Fernando Merino) in 1969 she starred in the film Unmarried and Mother in Life (Javier Aguirre), which was followed by The Fool of the Boat (1970, Juan de Orduña), Astray (1973, Mariano Ozores) or Lady Doctor (1974 Mariano Ozores). Lina Morgan represents the mode of gradual rise in the industry as an actress who began with small incursions, she was slowly becoming more popular in the media, especially in the late sixties and during the 1970s in cinema, even during the eighties and nineties thanks mainly to television.
Meanwhile, we also have cases of actresses whose incursion into cinema occurred in a late form. This is the case of Isabel Garcés (1901-1981), a successful actress since the thirties who joined cinema in 1959, when she was fifty-eight years old. Some of the most memorable roles of Garces correspond to the 1960s, according to her age, in films like An Angel Has Come (1961, Luis Lucia), Liar (1962, Enrique Cahen), The Daughters of Helena (1963 has arrived, Mariano Ozores), Fetch That Girl (1964, Fernando Palacios, George Sherman), The Four Weddings of Marisol (1967, Luis Lucia), Cristina Guzmán (1968, Luis Cesar Amadori) or The Taxi of Conflicts (1969, José Luis Saenz de Heredia and Mariano Ozores). Her presence is seen especially in supporting roles, usually in comedies where she unleashes her grace from forgetfulness or humorous situations, the films of Marisol being those most remembered by the public. The arrival of Isabel Garcés as late to the filmic field perhaps had to do with the conception of cinema as a natural evolution in her profession from the theater, a direction parallel to the development of audiovisual media, along with the economic benefits meant by the filmic discipline as compared with the theater.
Another case of actresses of evolution has to do with those women outside the medium who jumped to the big screen because of their popularity in the social landscape of the time. Such is the case of the models and winners of beauty pageants who, rather than their acting skills or talent, managed to enter cinema thanks to their beauty, used as a visual teaser for the male audience by the filmmakers. It is the case of beautiful models or winners of Miss Spain and, although this trend was popularized in the late 1960s, it had special relevance during the seventies, as can be seen from the incursions into cinema of Mirta Miller (1948), Nadiuska (1952) or Amparo Muñoz (1954-2011), sometimes around Landismo.
In any of the cases presented herein, we can say that actresses of evolution are a quantitative majority in the Developism industry. Some of them managed to play leading roles, while others developed supporting characters masterfully and repeatedly or even some of them always worked in supporting roles. The interesting thing about this is that all were able, out of nowhere, to gain a foothold in the Spanish film industry at a time when it was producing an artistic and ideological enrichment parallel to that, gradually, it was also developing in the sociopolitical context from the country.

4.2.3. Fortuitous actresses

Those called “fortuitous actresses” in this study are numerous in the Spanish filmography of Franco’s time and, despite their limited relevance in the arguments, they are equally important to the history of cinema from the social point of view. In this case we refer to those women who worked as extras and were inserted in cinema almost without looking for it. Especially we refer to those women living in places where there were shootings and who eventually participated in the film industry, either out of financial issues, either out of curiosity about the invention, or even inadvertently, as they were recorded with a documentary and anthropological interest.
In general, many extras, including women, were part of the western American productions since, in the sixties, a number of them were recorded in southern Spain. Let us recall that in 1969 the province of Almeria was granted toe status of “preferred industrial location area” with the intention of turning the desert places into scenarios for films of this genre. In fact, in the province of Almeria, more than six hundred titles were shot in a few years and relevant movie stars were received, one of the reasons why, especially many women were attracted to participate in the movies.
In this respect, those women who appear in films as extras recreating their usual traditions and way of life are particularly important. This reality has a great development in Nine Letters to Bertha (1966, Basilio Martín Patino). The movie tells the story of Lorenzo (Emilio Gutiérrez Caba), a student who, after a summer in England where he met Berta, the daughter of an exiled teacher, begins to have new intellectual interests and feels stifled in the provincial town of Salamanca. Although the plot takes place in the city of Salamanca, then the story unfolds in a village where the protagonist comes to rest. The film crew moved to the town of Valero to acclimate to the rural areas. The scenes recorded there show the daily life of the people, religious traditions as well as the scarce cultural offer, based on the performances of traditional music and a sporadic performance by the university tuna. In this context, local extra women star in images of local customs raised as an important anthropological testimony to the history of the province of Salamanca and, in general terms, to the history of women in rural areas.
Therefore, the Spanish cinema also features the inclusion of women who, nameless and without an argument hardly relevant to the stories, contributed to the recreation of cinematographic narratives and female visibility, according to their normal lifestyle. In some cases, fortuitous actresses merely participated as fillers in crowd scenes, as especially in American blockbusters filmed in Spain, but in other cases the women who participated in the film recreated the daily routine of their life circumstances, resulting in the recreation of anthropological life in the village or in the city at the time, so valuable to know our past in social key.

4.2.4. The artist actresses

Talent was also one of the motivations for the inclusion of women in films during Franco’s regime, especially in the field of sound art. Singers and dancers took a center stage on the big screen since the establishment of the regime, leading to women who, after winning in their respective disciplines, became actresses. Usually the reason for this circumstance had to do, as with the incorporation of models and winners of beauty pageants, with the fact that the media had become an excellent platform for dissemination. However, compared to those who managed to carve a niche due to their physical appearance, inserting first-line figures of the different art forms led, beyond advertising and dissemination proper to their careers, to enrichment of the movie itself with their art as an argument of authority.
During the forties and fifties, the musical films starring artists such as Concha Piquer (1906-1990), Estrellita Castro (1908-1983), Imperio Argentina (1910-2003), Lola Flores (1923-1995) or Marujita Diaz (1931), among other showbiz figures, triumphed. In the cinema of developism, the musical style close to the copla and flamenco continued in force through the presence of some of these figures, as in the case of Lola Flores or Marujita Diaz or Paquita Rico (1929), the latter being the protagonist of Gust of Wind (1961, Luis Marquina), which is proof of her talent for singing and dancing. Carmen Sevilla (1930) starred in musical movies in the sixties, as seen on The Balcony of The Moon (1962, Luis Saslavsky), in which Lola Flores and Paquita Rico also sing and dance, and Road of Dew (1966 Rafael Gil), where Carmen Sevilla monopolizes the absolute artistic prominence. Meanwhile, Sara Montiel (1928-2013) starred in films at that time, not only due to her beauty and the magnetism of her eyes but also because of the personal performance of her songs, stylistically more current than those of Rico and Seville, as seen in Sin of Love (1961, Luis César Amadori) or Tuset Street (1968, Luis Marquina, Jorge Grau) films. The presence of all of them confirms a constant: participation of musical artists in the different films allowed all to show their interpretative aspect, but always prevailing their status as singers in made-to-measure movies, as seen through the prevalence of musical numbers of show.
Also, we can also speak of a great development of dance, not only as a companion of music around these musical numbers but also as co-star of the discipline. This is seen in the film The Tarantos (1963, Francisco Rovira Beleta), where the artist Carmen Amaya (1913-1963) shows her talent and the union of music and dance in flamenco culture and art. Although Carmen Amaya had been part of cinema in previous decades, the relevance of this movie, in addition to showing her talent for dance, is her last film.
On the contrary, in the sixties the international popular music of contemporary character called ye yé began to succeed, with a great development from the image of the modern female artist and, though different personalities and styles stand out, pop music is the common trait among most of them. The Spanish musical scene in the 1960s included the fashion of male ensembles emerged under the influence of The Beatles, but also the modern song developed by the prototype of the modern female singer or lightweight female singer. About this kind of woman, we should point out, first, the presence of three fundamental aspects. First, the decisive role of new means of musical reproduction, such as disc recordings; secondly, the social relevance of European and Latin American modern song or light festivals and, finally, the importance of films as a disseminating platforms of new music in which women also have a prominent role as protagonists. Massiel (1947), Karina (1946) and Ivana are three of these singers who had relevance in the Spanish society and who participated in cinema in the movies Singing to Life (1969, Angelino Fons), The Boys of The Preu (1967, Pedro Lazaga) and 45 Revolutions per Minute (1969, Pedro Lazaga), respectively starring each of them. However, to them, participation in cinema was considered an element of promotion, hence the study of movies performed by professional artistic profiles can be better understood from a musical and advertising perspective rather than from a cinematographic perspective.

4.2.5. The prodigy girls

Children also had a relevant interest in films developed during Franco’s regime, leading to “cinema with children.” In the developmental context, boys and girls occupied a prominent place, especially in the commercial movies closest to the government, where they were carefully selected with the intention of increasing tenderness or starring in those sequences directed towards indoctrination, as seen in the film Three of the Red Cross (1961, Fernando Palacios), whose last seconds are hoarded by Lolo (Jorge Pictures), the nephew of Pepe (Tony Leblanc), when the moral of the film is developed from the child’s attitude.
Specifically, in the 1960s we observe the existence of a group of girls whose presence has to do with this indoctrinating type, little actresses who developed their career surrounded by great actors in films with a plot close to the ideals of the Regime. Although initially this performing aspect could be understood almost as a game for the girls, the economic compensation meant a livelihood for their families. One of the most visible child actresses in the sixties is Maribel Martin (1954). Throughout the sixties she participated in films like Three of the Red Cross (1961, Fernando Palacios), The Great Family (1962, Fernando Palacios), The Road (1963, Ana Mariscal) or Family and ... One More (1965 Fernando Palacios). Tenderness and innocence, with her characteristic freckles, endowed the characters to which she gave life with sufficient sentimentality, according to the commercial aesthetic of the films in which she appears. But her career did not disappear with her childhood, but her relationship with cinema, beyond her personal life when she married the filmmaker Julian Mateos, continued during the seventies and eighties (3).

(3) See the evolution of the career of Maribel Martín, being her interpretation as Miriam, the master’s daughter in The Innocent Saints (1984, Mario Camus), one of his first works as an adult woman.

The presence of a number of girls in movies was around the sixties due to their skills as performers, as actresses, but it was also usual to choose girls to play movie characters because of their artistic talents, that is, in prodigy cases of girls who developed some talent. As already stated, cinema was now an excellent broadcast platform, hence the musical field had a great ally in the audiovisual discipline. As happened in the case of artist actresses, films meant great dissemination for those girls who developed artistic skills from an early age.
Cinema catapulted them to fame and thus allowed them to develop a double artistic facet: on the one hand, that of the actress, since the prodigy girls not only starred musical numbers but used to be the protagonists of the whole story; on the other hand, their career as singers out of hiring their performances and the recording of discs once their talent came to producers through movies. However, their mentors and tutors were usually those who were more interested in their success, since reaching a privileged place in cinema was considered an investment for the future, with a view to achieving more musical engagements, starring in more movies, being claimed for participate in TV commercials, getting more prestige, etc., despite many hours of filming and hard rehearsals.
These careers of prodigy girls had a development in the panorama of the sixties exclusively on commercial movies, where it became clear the existing talent in Franco’s Spain according to the sound style proposed and liked by the high spheres. In addition, it was common for these little stars to be part of social events, as was the case with artist actresses, little prodigy girls were a symbol of tenderness, talent and modernity, all recreated through their image and their art. In this respect, probably the name Marisol, to whom Pepa Flores gave life (1948), is the most representative of these years, because the character went on to become one of the most popular banners in Franco’s regime. In this case, moreover, we think of talking about the character, not the actress, since Marisol was the image of an identity created on demand by her mentor from whom Pepa Flores subsequently tried to disassociate herself.
In her case, Marisol gave birth to heterogeneous identities throughout the 1960s, undergoing modifications since her first appearance in a movie until Pepa Flores decided to end this character. Since her discovery as a prodigy girl and her incursion into her first film, A Beam of Light (1960, Luis Lucia), appearances of Marisol were a constant in the Spanish social life, as she was taken as an image of Franco by the flamenco style of her music, the most appreciated by the political leadership, and the angelic look of her face. Thus, not only from the upper echelons Marisol defended the figure but also all mothers wanted their daughters to look like her due to her physical appearance and the values represented by her appearances in films. But the advanced age of Marisol determined her little participation in movies as a child character, as in An Angel Has Come (1961, Luis Lucia) or Tombola (1962, Luis Lucia), while as a teenager she has a greater projection by incarnating the image of a young woman with a traditional mindset defended by the central government. It should be noted that her presence in other films in Developism, such as The Girl in the Red Mill (1973, Eugenio Martín) and in Democracy, such as Bloody Weddings (1981 Carlos Saura). From these movies on, Pepa Flores began to have a more liberal ideology farther from the ideals of Franco’s regime, parallel to the remoteness of the values surrounding the character and since then, she has tried to show distances.
Other famous figures of the sixties were the twins Pili and Mili (1947) and, because of her starring in several movies, Rocio Durcal (1944-2006). The prototype of prodigy child represented by the latter differed slightly from that of Marisol and other female identities of those times. Thus, in the films of the sixties starring Rocío Durcal, three maxims are usually shown. First, the geographical origin of the actress is not often reflected in the film and the Andalusian style that appeared in the first films of Marisol is not a priority in the musical identity of Maria de los Angeles de las Heras, the real name of the artist. Second, Rocio Durcal is presented as a prodigy teenager rather than a prodigy child; This fact implies that, from the outset, the character appears associated with a traditional female stereotype in terms of finding a boyfriend as a necessity in life, the profile of most of the roles she played in the sixties. Third, it is common for Rocio Durcal to play characters that show a fearless attitude or also it often happens that she plays simple and humble characters who manage to succeed in the world of song and find love. In any case, both Pili and Mili and Rocio Durcal, because of an older age, recreated from the beginning an image of youth and modernity in the artistic field that matched in parallel the socio-political progress and self openness of developism.


After what has been pointed out so far, we can say that the origin of women who developed performance in movies during Developism is diverse. Although, since the fifties, we find women integrated into the film industry and performing their work behind the cameras, the job of actress was the most developed by the female figure, through a wide variety of women who came to cinema through different ways and who, likewise, have become protagonists in the history of Spanish cinema.
These actresses performed very different gender roles through the characters to which they gave life, but an approach to this issue will be addressed at another time since in this paper we have only focused on the different professional profiles. According to our study, we can confirm that the achievements of women from the social point of view, despite a pattern of official relationship in accordance with the teachings and the prevailing morality still remained, are also reflected in the film area through the characters to which they give life to different characters in each film, played by several actresses.
We can say that there is no unitary professional profile among these women who developed their talent in front of the cameras at that time. So while some of them were part of the medium due to family tradition, others gradually managed to gain a foothold in the medium from their work in small roles or it is even possible to locate filmic examples in which female artists were introduced in cinema by their mentors because of the informative nature of the audiovisual media, as recapitulated below. Similarly, the assignment of specific roles to a particular actress are not observed, but the roles that each professional develops during Developism are most suited to their tastes or characteristics of declamation and physical features, leading to participation of the same actress in films of different ideologies, as in the case of María Isbert, among others.
While some actresses came from famous families of artists, others, those who we have called “actresses of evolution”, began with effort a career in the film field, a novel context to them, from the less visible but essential roles for overall configuration of a sample. Also, a significant place has to do with women working as extras who appeared in movies, they mean an attachment of cinema to society and the context in which a film arises. Moreover, a relevant place was occupied by artists who used films as a platform to disseminate their skills, leading to musical numbers of quality show, and girls, some of them being also artists, were inserted in the cinema with the more commercial and ideologically propagandistic effort. Therefore, there are different reasons and ways in which women penetrated the film industry in front of the cameras, but in all cases the same intention remains: to develop female characters in exchange for social status and economic remuneration that would allow them to live in the increasingly recovered Spanish society of the sixties and seventies. This shows the diversity of professional profiles of Spanish actresses from 1959 to 1975 and, simultaneously, the unity of successful results in a Spanish Star System created almost on the fly during the war and in force for a period of growth in all spheres, as in the case of Developism.


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