The title of this blog could have been changed by deleting the name ‘Soledad Miranda’ and putting in its place, Susann Korda or Susan Korday. The actress, who appeared in over thirty films in the 1960s including cult hits “Count Dracula” and “Vampyros Lesbos” from Spanish director Jesus Franco, went by all of those names during her short life, but she was born Soledad Rendon Bueno on July 9, 1943 in Seville, Spain to Portuguese parents. Sadly, Soledad wouldn’t wind up living much past her 27th birthday, due to a car accident which claimed her life on August 18, 1970, in Lisbon, Portugal. At the time of the accident, she was on her way to sign a contract with Artur Brauner, a German film producer, which would have brought her international stardom. She was survived at the time by her husband, Jose Manuel da Conceicao Simoes, a former race-car driver, and their son, Jose Antonio. As an aside, the name Susan Korda was given to Miranda by Franco, who took the name from a German film actress named Susanne Korda. Soledad used the name Korda when she appeared in anything of an erotic nature as a way to keep the knowledge of it from her extended family. The name Miranda, that she used as her last name for the majority of the films and television shows she appeared in, came about by happenstance. It was drawn out of a number of surnames that had been placed in a hat and whichever one she chose that was the name she would perform under.
The oldest of six children – two brothers and three sisters, Soledad was the niece of Spanish actress, flamenco dancer and singer Paquita Rico. She began her career when she was eight years of age as a flamenco dancer and singer. She would make her film debut at sixteen as a dancer in the movie “La Bella Mimi.” The films she acted in ran the gamut of genres from B-movies and spaghetti westerns through comedies, dramas, and horror. She worked steadily in the Spanish cinema, eventually being discovered by American film director, producer and writer Sidney W. Pink, who gave her a role in the 1963 film “The Castilian,” which featured a cast that included Frankie Avalon (Grease), Broderick Crawford (Born Yesterday), Fernando Rey (The French Connection), and Cesar Romero (Batman). Pink, used the hypnotic beauty for his next film as well when he cast Soledad in the horror film “Pyro…The Thing Without a Face,” (1964). Two years later, Soledad would appear in the movie “Sound of Horror.” What is interesting about that particular film is that it also featured actress Ingrid Pitt, who would go onto become an international star for Hammer Studios appearing in movies such as “The Vampire Lovers” and “Countess Dracula.”
Several years later, after marriage and the birth of her child, Soledad teamed up with director Jesus Franco to make “Count Dracula,” alongside actor Christopher Lee, who has played Dracula in ten different films, Herbert Lom of Pink Panther film fame, and the brilliant, but hot tempered actor Klaus Kinski (Fitzcarraldo). The next, and sadly the last, four films Soledad worked on before her untimely death were all directed by Franco and came out after she passed away: “The Devil Came from Akasava” (1971), “Vampyros Lesbos” (1971), “She Killed in Ecstasy” (1971), and “Eugenie De Sade” (1974). In addition to her acting, she also had a short stint as a pop singer. In 1964 and 1965, she recorded two, four song EP records in Spain for the Belter Label. Her singing voice can also be heard in three of her movies: Cancion de Cuna (1961), Eva (1963), and Currito de la Cruz (1965).
The purpose of writing this week’s blog was not to review a particular movie or aspect of Soledad Miranda’s life, but instead to introduce you to an actress you might not have heard about prior to reading this. She was extraordinarily well known in the world of Spanish cinema, but sadly, it was not until after her death, and years after for that matter, that film lovers around the world began to take serious notice of her, thanks to the advent, at the time, of the VCR. That was how many people were first introduced to her, once Franco’s movies started appearing on VHS tape. Those same movies are even easier to view now on DVD. For instance, Netflix has “Count Dracula,” “The Devil Came from Akasava,” “Eugenie De Sade,” “She Killed in Ecstasy,” and “Vampyros Lesbos,” as well as four of her other films available to get through the mail service. Soledad’s dream was to be known outside of her native Spain, sadly, she did not achieve that end until after she could no longer enjoy the recognition, but fortunately for those of us who love movies, her films live on to be enjoyed by those who don’t mind departing, every so often, from watching main stream cinema.