Soledad Miranda in EL CONDE DRACULA [Top] and EUGENIE DE SADE [Bottom]
Soledad Rendón Bueno (9 July 1943 – 18 August 1970), the Spanish actress-singer who is best known as Soledad Miranda, would have celebrated her 70th birthday today if not for a cruel twist of fate which occurred on the Costa Del Sol highway near Lisbon on August 18, 1970. But Soledad Miranda survives as an international icon of Cinema. The tragic car accident which took her life at the age of 27 happened at the height of her career, just as she was about to sign a multi-year contract with German producer Artur Brauner.
But this event also allowed her to enter the realm of legend, propelled by the seven films she managed to complete the last year of her life. These films, directed by Jess Franco (the final three co-produced by Brauner), illustrated her protean abilities as a performer. The theatrical success of the iconic VAMPYROS LESBOS in Germany at the time and the subsequent establishment of such films as EUGUENIE DE SADE and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY as cult classics on VHS and DVD have given her a kind of immortality. Her image is all around us. On DVDs, posters, album covers, screenshots, Youtube videos, vintage adverts. She certainly qualifies as one of the Queens of the Internet. Just Google her name.
By 1970 she had already appeared in supporting roles in both Spanish and international co productions such as PYRO, THE SOUND OF HORROR, SUGAR COLT and 100 RIFLES, sometimes playing opposite of American stars like Barry Sullivan and Burt Reynolds. She was a well known personality in Spain even before the final Franco films. But she moved into a different dimension in 1969, starting with her haunting and haunted performance as Lucy in Franco's EL CONDE DRACULA. Even the normally aloof Christopher Lee was took notice of her special magnetism. A few months later, appearing under the name Susann Korda, she was equally haunting, but also vulnerable, dangerous and ultimately touching as the title character in EUGENIE DE SADE, one of Jess Franco's unquestionable masterworks. The unfinished JULIETTE and the (MIA) SEX CHARADE followed. But it is with her show stopping presence as the sensuous, mysterious vampire Nadine Korody that she seems to break through yet another boundary, leaving no doubt that we are in the presence of an arresting talent able to make her heart and soul visible onscreen. She developed this sexual/existential ambiguity even further as the vengeful widow who seduces and kills her victims in SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY. She seems to freeze her victims in place before melting them down.
Who know what would have eventually happened if she had been able to continue to act during the next four decades? Superstar status on an international scale? A flame out? Or a slow fade away? What's important now is her legacy, now preserved on countless DVDs, photographs, albums and in books, articles and discussion of a certain type of Cinema. So, while mourning her loss let's also celebrate her life on her 70th birthday. Soledad Miranda Lives!