Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Mysterious Death of Actress Lupe Vélez Continues to Haunt Hollywood Nearly a Century Later

Mysterious Death of Actress Lupe Vélez Continues to Haunt Hollywood Nearly a Century Later

Nearly 80 years after the mysterious death of Lupe Vélez, many still question what actually killed the Mexican actress. 

Vélez first started acting in 1924 and made her first film appearance in a 1927 short. From there, she acted in various full-length silent films, including The Gaucho, Lady of the Pavements, and Wolf Song. Eventually, she starred in eight Mexican Spitfire films. 

However, things took a turn in December of 1944. On the 13th, Lupe Vélez had dinner with fellow silent film star Estelle Taylor as well as Venita Oakie. After an evening with the girls, Vélez retired to her room on the 14th. Her secretary found her later that day dead in her bed.

She had consumed 75 Seconal pills and drank a glass of brandy. She left a suicide note addressed to her boyfriend at the time, Australian actor Harald Maresch (his stage name was Harald Ramond). “To Harald, May God forgive you and forgive me too,” the note read. “But I prefer to take my life away and our baby’s before I bring him with shame or killing him.”

On the back of the note, Vélez called Maresch out. “How could you, Harald, fake such a great love for me and our baby when all the time, you didn’t want us? I see no other way out for me, so goodbye, and good luck to you.”

After the news, Maresch addressed the public by stating he didn’t know what Lupe Vélez was referring to in her note. He said that while the couple actually had broken up prior to her death, he had agreed to marry her and give the baby a name. Taylor also said that Vélez mentioned the pregnancy to her but admitted she would rather kill herself than have an abortion. 

Author Says Lupe Veléz’s Death is Now a Punchline Thanks to Kenneth Anger

While speaking to Fox News, author Eve Golden shared some thoughts about why Lupe Vélez’s death was made into a joke years later. 

“Two words- Kenneth Anger,” she declared to the media outlet. “I was frustrated that he died after my book went to press. I couldn’t let loose and say what I thought about him because he would have sued my pants off if he’d been alive.” 

Although Lupe Vélez died in her bed, Anger’s Hollywood Babylon rewrote history by stating she died after throwing up sleeping pills and drawing in her toilet. “It’s physically impossible,” Golden explained. “Anyone who has ever had food poisoning or a stomach virus knows you can’t drown in a toilet unless somebody is dragging you by the ankles and dunking you.”

Golden’s new book Strictly Dynamite: The Sensational Life Of Lupe Vélez, explores how Vélez became one of the first Latin actresses to make it to Hollywood. However, her death became a punchline for various TV shows, including Frasier and The Simpsons. “I wanted to evaluate her as an actress,” Golden continued. “I wanted to tell her story… She was an amazing singer and a great dramatic actress, which is generally not known because she was given so few dramatic roles. And, of course, I wanted to tell the truth about her death.” 

Despite the facts, Golden claims that people still believe Anger’s tale about Vélez’s death. She added that his book is full of lies. “She didn’t drown in her toilet.” 

Kenneth Anger died earlier this year.