La Madrina Margo Albert
Lost Horizon (Frank Capra, 1937) was my first Margo Albert movie. While reading Anthony Quinn’s autobiography One Man Tango, her name was further fixed into my memory after seeing a photo still of her dancing in Viva Zapata (Elia Kazan, 1952). Finally after watching her flamenco dance in the Val Lewton produced classic The Leopard Man (Jacques Tourner, 1943) did she peak my interest.
My appreciation for flamenco began with flamenco dancer Rita Hayworth. It turns out Margo studied dance under Rita’s father, Eduardo Cansino, and made her professional debut as a child. Call me shallow but sometimes all it takes for me to adore an actor is a flamenco connection. I suddenly became a Margaret O’Brien fan when I learned her Spanish mother and aunt were flamenco dancers. Although I had been an Ida Lupino admirer for decades, overnight she moved up the ranks of my favorites because her sister, Rita, was a flamenco dancer. Margo Albert, or simply Margo, could have just remained one of my “favorites” by flamenco default but luckily I researched her and found her one of the most admirable actresses in Hollywood history.
Her commitment to the arts and Latino communities endeared me. She was born in Mexico City as Maria Margarita Guadelupe Teresa Estela Bolado Castilla y O’Donnell. A little Irish too just like her former Mexican co-star Anthony Quinn. She came to the United States as a child becoming a US citizen in 1942. She married actor Eddie Albert in 1945. Here she is at 2:55 minutes discussing her fear of falling in love with him due to her goals in life.
In the early 1950s, the Alberts had a nightclub act directed by Herbert Ross that played throughout the country. They also recorded albums together along with Spanish guitarist Vicente Gomez. Here is a video of them singing duets. Margo’s voice starts at 50 seconds. There are also clips describing her life as well as from films she appeared with her husband including I’ll Cry Tomorrow (Daniel Mann, 1955).
In the late 1940s she and Eddie started teaching arts and music to children in East Lost Angeles. In this clip starting at 58 seconds, Margo discusses her classroom instruction.
Margo later became active in the neighborhood movement to prevent the City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Commision demolition of Lincoln Park’s historic boathouse. In 1970, this movement to raise funds to save it led to the creation of Plaza de la Raza, a Latino Community Cultural Arts center inside Lincoln Park.
As one of the founders, Margo was known as Madrina, the godmother. She taught drama there in 1978. She was artistic director and chairman of the board for many years. The family continued its commitment to the center after Margo’s death in 1985 with Eddie Albert as chairman and their son on the board.The center now includes the Margo Albert Theater, an outdoor stage and an art gallery.
From September 15-October 15 of this year the theater has been hosting a Latinos in Hollywood photo exhibit honoring Latino actors of Hollywood’s past and present.
The Plaza is celebrating its 45th year with vintage photo exhibitions including this one of Margo.
Check out the website for more information on the 45th anniversary at
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In addition to the Plaza, Margo was also a board member of the National Council of the National Endowment for the Arts, served on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and on former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Affairs. Yet Plaza de la Raza was her great civic and cultural love. Bradley said. “Without her, this cultural center would not have happened and we would not be here.”