María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez (July 18, 190 – December 13, 1944), known professionally as Lupe Vélez, was a Mexican film actress.
Vélez began her career in Mexico as a dancer in vaudeville, before moving to the U.S. Vélez soon entered films, making her first appearance in 1927 in the film The Gaucho. By the end of the decade she had progressed to leading roles. She worked with film directors like D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, Victor Fleming and William Wyler among others. With the arrival of talkies, Vélez’s career took a turn towards comedy. Her characterization of the temperamental, explosive, rebellious and irreverent Latina woman gave her enormous popularity. She enjoyed immense popularity among Hispanic audiences and also made some films in Mexico. Some of her most memorable films are Lady of the Pavements (1928), The Wolf Song (1929), Palooka (1933), Laughing Boy (1934), Hollywood Party (1934) and the series of films created especially for her: Mexican Spitfire, in the early 1940s.
Vélez’s personal life was often difficult; a five-year marriage to Johnny Weissmuller and a series of romances with figures like Gary Cooper, were highly publicized. Her premature death from suicide, and the mysterious circumstances in which this occurred, made her an urban legend of the Hollywood industry.
She is often associated with the nicknames “The Mexican Spitfire” and “The Hot Pepper”. Vélez was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood.