Lupe Vélez was Hollywood’s first Latina icon—but if her name isn’t well-known today, maybe that’s because of her dark end. Not only was Vélez one of the most magnetic stars on screen, but she was also one of the most scandalous. When the cameras weren’t rolling, her love life kept the gossip columnists busy. Sadly, her time on Earth was all too short, and what happened to the woman they called the “Mexican Spitfire” is still the source of controversy today.

1. Her Life Changed In An Instant

María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez was born to a well-off family in Mexico, in 1908—but her idyllic life was soon shattered by the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution. Her family’s fortunes suffered greatly, and they had to pull Vélez out of the boarding school in Texas where she was learning English—yet Vélez quickly bounced back.

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