Rosita Fornés (Rosalia Palet Bonavia)
Photos with Rosita Fornés
BiographyNew York City, New York, USA
Rosita Fornés was born in New York, USA, on February 11, 1923. She was taken to Cuba by her Catalonian-born parents when she was 2. Her true name is Rosalia Palet Bonavia. Fornes became her artistic name at the age of fifteen at the request of her step-father, who helped raise her from the age of 2. Fornes first won critical acclaim as a singer after winning the best prize at a widely-known Cuban talent contest in 1938 (La Corte Suprema del Arte -The Supreme Court of the Arts-). From this moment on she became Cuba's most prolific, admired and maligned performer. Read more... She has been, throughout her brilliantly long career, the center of personal and political controversies. Her visit to the US in May to September of 1996, for instance, generated in Miami the largest and most politically heated press coverage that any performer (foreign of national) had produced ever in this city. She was, in her younger years and well into her sixties, regarded as a sex symbol, as the unchallenged blonde goddess of Cuban show business, although her true weapons in this field have been her spell-binding stage presence, her unbending professionalism and a beautifully melodious singing voice (her stage repertoire has included numerous full-length operettas and opera arias). In her twenties, already famous in Cuba, she traveled to Mexico where she became an overnight and lasting sensation. To this day, Rosita Fornes is received in Mexico as La Primera Vedette de America (The First Show-Woman of the Americas). In the fourties and fifties she toured extensively throughout Latin America, the US and Europe. In the latter part of the 1950's she became Spain's most popular stage diva, rivaling Spanish stars such as Celia Gamez and the younger Sarita Montiel. In Cuba, her sold-out theather performances and countless TV appearances have made Ms. Fornes this country's top female superstar. Rosita Fornes has received numerous artistic awards in Cuba and abroad. She declares herself apolitical and a devout Catholic, and has remained in Cuba despite the Revolution of 1959. She is a warm, witty, caring and very refined woman who, at the peak of the AIDS crisis in Cuba (when AIDS sufferes where forcibly isolated into a state-run health institution), would visit the sick and perform for them freely. In several occassions, she has regarded her film career as an "accident", and has declared in no uncertain terms that she deplores her earlier filmography, which she considers too flawed and commercial. Her first husband was Mexican actor Manuel Medel with whom she had her only child, a daughter by the name of Rosa Maria Medel, also an actress. Her second husband, a very handsome and popular Cuban actor by the name of Armando Bianchi, died in 1981 in a drowning accident after twenty-eight years of marriage. Rosita Fornes' name is associated throughout the Hispanic world with other great Latin names of the period: Jorge Negrete, Emilio Tuero, Libertad Lamarque, Antonio Aguilar, Maria Victoria, Dolores del Rio, Maria Felix, Agustin Lara, Ernesto Lecuona, Adolfo Guzman, Mario Moreno (Cantinflas)-with whom, she confessed in 1996, she had a long-running and passionate love affair). No longer exploited as a sex symbol, Rosita Fornes remains today (Nov. of 1997), an active, commanding and venerated presence in the Cuban stage scene. She still gets top biling and she still sings at the closing of every important variety show that takes place in the Island (no one would even think of leaving the theater until La Fornes sings). Always considered to be the non plus ultra of glamour in Cuba's artistic circles, it is not uncommon (to this day) to watch people "ohand ah!" at the sight of a stunningly dress and graciously poised Rosita Fornes making her way through the crowds in a party or taking center stage. She has recently finished a series of concerts in Havana (July, 1997), starred in a comedy play (Nenufares en el techo del mundo), and was part of the international jury at the International Film Festival in Bahia, Brazil (Oct. 1997). She takes care of her elderly mother, Lupe (a delighful, lovely lady whose strong character explains this trait in Rosita's triumph versus adversity). Asked, invariably, whether age worries her, her response is always the same: "Age is a state of mind". And she has proven it.