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María Elena Velasco 1940-2015


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One of México's most beloved personalities of the last half century died on May 1, at the age of 74.  Velasco, whose professional alter ego was known as La India María, rose to fame under this guise.  Doing sketches on TV and stage as La India María, she honed this character and made her the centerpiece of nearly two dozen movies.  Using the garb and the sing-song speech intonation of modern day indigenous ethnicities in the region of México City, perhaps most similarly to the Mazahuas, her appearances in this guise worked on various levels.  Not only did she portray the hapless María for laughs, lost and out of place in the urban environment or as an undocumented in the US, taking pratfalls and other slapstick visual humor, but she had biting social commentary dealing with racial, ethnic and socioeconomic issues.   

 

Velasco also became a star of three tv series, a movie producer and director; in the latter role one of the few females in México.  She was beloved in México, in other Latin American countries, and among many Spanish-speaking immigrants in this country.  She will be missed.

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