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Rosaura Revueltas; Blacklisted Over Film

May 03, 1996|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rosaura Revueltas, Mexican actress best remembered for the human rights film "Salt of the Earth," which ironically cut short her career, has died. She was believed to be 86, although she claimed to be a decade younger.

Revueltas died Tuesday at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico, of lung cancer.

In the 1953 film about a violent strike at a New Mexico zinc mine, Revueltas portrays Esperanza Quintero, the pregnant wife of a Mexican worker. The film, which has become a cult favorite, has been praised in Europe and the Americas as an early account of women's rights as well as Latino workers' rights.

Made in Silver City, N.M., at the height of the McCarthy era, the film was financed by the International Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, which had been expelled by a forerunner of the AFL-CIO when leaders refused to sign anti-communist statements.

Four of the film's American principals--producer Paul Jarrico, director Herbert Biberman, writer Michael Wilson and actor Will Geer--were blacklisted.

Revueltas was arrested for illegally entering the United States and was deported after a conservative California congressman, Donald Jackson, insisted that the film was being made by a "bunch of communists" as a "new weapon for Russia."

The final work on the motion picture was made in Mexico to accommodate its star.

But Revueltas was banned from acting in Mexico as well as the United States, ending her career.

A native of Durango, Mexico, Revueltas studied acting and ballet in Mexico City and made her stage debut in 1946. Among her motion pictures were "Islas Marias (Marias Islands)" and "Muchachas de Uniforme (Girls in Uniform)." She also appeared in the American film "Sombrero."

Revueltas later worked with playwright and composer Bertold Brecht in Berlin and taught yoga and dance in Cuernavaca.

In 1979, she wrote a book titled "The Revueltas."

She is survived by her son, Arturo Bodenstedt.

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