Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy 80th Birthday Chelo Alono

Alicia Isabella Garcia was born on April 10, 1933 in Lugareño, Camagüey, Cuba. She became a star in Italian cinema, and ultimately a 1960s cult film heroine and sex symbol in the U.S. She was well known for playing femme fatales with fiery tempers and sensual dance scenes.

Known to fans worldwide by her stage name Chelo Alonso, her father was Cuban and her mother Mexican. She initially achieved recognition in Cuba for her dancing ability, becoming a sensation at Cuba's National Theatre in Havana.

Soon after, she emerged as a new exotic dancing talent at the Folies Bergère in Paris. She was billed as the "new Josephine Baker", who had also performed and become famous at the Folies. Alonso was billed as the "Cuban H-Bomb", and mixed Afro-Cuban rhythms from her homeland with "bump and grind".

Most of Alonso's films were adventure movies in the style of “Le Fatiche di Ercole”. Hercules starred Steve Reeves and was a wildly popular new genre in film. It paved the way for movies attempting to emulate it. These films required exotic talent, and Alonso's dark beauty fit the bill; she even starred with Steve Reeves himself in “Goliath and the Barbarians” (1959). “Goliath and the Barbarians” earned Alonso the award of "Italian Cinema's Female Discovery".

Alonso was first noticed internationally in the 1959 film, “Nel segno di Roma” (“Sign of the Gladiator”), which starred Anita Ekberg and Georges Marchal. Due to a particularly erotic dance number, her picture and name became more prominent on the movie's publicity posters than either of the two leads, much to Ekberg's dismay.

Following “Desert War” in 1962, Alonso left film for a time to turn her attention to television. She did not return until 1966's spaghetti western “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” - her most widely distributed film - ironically playing a small, non-speaking role. Alonso would go on to appear in two more Euro-westerns: “Run, Man, Run” (1967) with Tomás Milian and “Night of the Serpent” (1969) with Luke Askew.

In 1961, Alonso married Aldo Pomilia [19??-1986] a production manager and producer for many of her films. She has one son, Aldino Pomilia.

After the death of her husband, Alonso moved to the city of Siena in Tuscany, Italy. She retired from film and started a cat-breeding business, as well as a four-star hotel. Today we celebrate Chelo Alonso’s 80th birthday.

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