Luis Reyes, the renowned scholar, author, and lecturer wrote “Viva Hollywood” to honor the contribution Latinos have made in front of the camera and behind the scenes, giving its readers a historical journey through the complicated yet extraordinary history of Latinos in cinema.
‘Viva Hollywood’ immortalizes Latinos’ presence in Hollywood
The book is fully illustrated with over 200 color and black-and-white images. Every image and word celebrates the legacy of some of the most acclaimed actors, filmmakers, and artists to work in Tinseltown.
From Lupe Velez and Raquel Welch to Salma Hayek and Dolores Del Rio, “Viva Hollywood” takes a deep dive into the professional lives of the women of Hollywood. The book further explores the lives and careers of the first Latina film heroines Myrtle Gonzalez and Beatriz Michelena.
Each page is filled with one fascinating story after another. For example, did you know that Mexican American actor Ramon Novarro’s performance in “Ben-Hur” helped bring MGM Studios to prominence?
Once upon a time, Latinos had a strong place in Hollywood. So, what happened? According to an interview with Luis Reyes on NBC News, “One of the reasons the motion picture industry originally went west in the 1910s was the availability of a large labor pool. Southern California’s population of Latino and immigrant workers was an ideal fit for the nascent industry.”
Well, that explains a lot of it.
Like art, Hollywood films reflected what was happening politically, and they impacted Latino’s visibility and portrayal on screen.
Things took a turn for the better years later. In 1933, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office, the U.S. began promoting the Good Neighbor Policy with Central and South America to encourage better relations. This policy prompted Hollywood to re-evaluate the representation of Latinos in film, which eventually brought us the likes of the phenomenal Carmen Miranda, Desi Arnaz, and Anthony Quinn, to name a few.
In the book, Reyes also discusses the role Latinos have played as activists – from Ricardo Montalban’s advocacy group Nosotros to the 1970 protest at the Academy Awards over the portrayals of Latinos in movies like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
The relationship between Hollywood and the Latino community has been a long and complicated journey – and it continues to be. The industry still has a long way to go.
Sure, we do see a lot more representation and diversity in TV and film than we did before, but are our stories really being told with authenticity? Many would argue they are not.
“Viva Hollywood” is the ode we needed. It is a go-to guide that beautifully breaks down the influence and legacy of Latinos.
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