Amparo Rivelles, 88, winner of the first Best Actress Goya

Veteran of the Spanish stage and cinema dies in Madrid

Amparo Rivelles, pictured in her Madrid home in 1994.
Amparo Rivelles, pictured in her Madrid home in 1994. Santos Cirilo (EL PAÍS)

One of the most famous faces of classic Spanish cinema, Amparo Rivelles, died in Madrid last Thursday at age 88.

A celebrity in postwar Spain through her prolific work in theater and film, Rivelles turned down several Hollywood roles, though she did accept an invitation from Orson Welles to appear in the Spanish version of his 1955 movie Mr Arkadin.

Despite her star status in the 1940s and 1950s, by the end of that decade Rivelles moved to Mexico for personal reasons she never revealed. If anything, her career was more successful there, and she stayed for the next 20 years working in everything "except circus acts," she used to say with her habitual good humor. The bulk of her Mexican work was melodramatic tear-jerkers for both the small and big screens, although she also made the caustic black comedy The Skeleton of Mrs Morales in 1959.

She returned to Spain in 1974 to star in La madrastra (The stepmother) under the direction of Mexican Roberto Gavaldón and continued to work tirelessly until 2006, when she announced her retirement after a career with more than 90 credits to her name. Rivelles always said she would rather have been a doctor or a lawyer, but as the daughter of well-known actors Rafael Rivelles and María Fernanda Ladrón de Guevara, performing came naturally to her and she had her first role at just 14.

"She was a tremendous talent and she was an impeccable professional," said director José Luis García Sánchez upon learning of her death. "You will not find anyone who speaks ill of her, because she was wonderful to work with.

"The recipient of the 1996 National Theater Award and the winner of the first Goya Award for Best Actress in 1987, Rivelles once said at a tribute event to herself that, "I would like to be remembered as a good person, because I believe that I am one. Don't be sad when I die, because I've had a really good time."

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