Amparo Muñoz, A Beautiful Broken Toy
In 1974, 20-year old Amparo Muñoz (center) became the first Spaniard to win Miss Universe. (EFE)
Amparo Muñoz in November 2005, the year in which she published her memoirs. (EFE)
Amparo Muñoz, A Beautiful Broken Toy
The only Spanish Miss Universe has died in her home in Málaga at age 56 after suffering from a protracted illness
El País: Amparo Muñoz, un bello juguete roto
Diego Galán, Madrid, February 28, 2011
The most beautiful woman, Amparo Muñoz, has passed away in Málaga at the very young age of 56. She received this crown in 1973, when she was Miss Spain, and in 1974 when she won Miss Universe. But she was a woman with strong will, and six months into her reign of the universe, she abdicated because she felt manipulated by the contest organization, which obligated her to constant trips and presentations. Her love for liberty was one of her defining characteristics, and perhaps for that reason the press ran roughshod over her.
She was born in Vélez Málaga to a family of five children which did not have the means to provide her more than a junior high school education. After taking stenography and typography classes, she found work as a secretary, which seemed to be her destiny. But immediately after her victory in the world of beauty, the world of cinema took interest in her. In Vida conyugal sana [Wholesome Married Life], directed by Roberto Bodegas and written by José Luis Garci, she played the temptress of José Sacristán, a married man obsessed with publicity. In Tocata y fuga de Lolita, by Antonio Drove, she was the rebellious girl who displayed her beautiful bust, a big contributor to the movie’s popularity. In the 70’s, Spanish cinema was at the height of destape [double meaning: “liberalization” and “nudity”], and the splendid figure of Amparo Muñoz found 9 titles in which to reveal itself, including Sensualidad (Germán Lorente, 1975), Clara es el precio [Clara is the Price] (Vicente Aranda, 1975), and La otra alcoba [The Other Bedchamber] (Eloy de la Iglesia, 1976), in which Amparo starred alongside the man who would be her first husband, the actor and singer Patxi Andión.
After appearances in Volvoreta (José Antonio Nieves Conde, 1976), Mauricio, mon amour (Juan Bosch, 1976), Acto de posesión (Javier Aguirre, 1977), and Del amor y de la muerte (Antonio Giménez Rico, 1977), among other films, her cinematic career took a notable turn when she began a relationship with the producer Elías Querejeta, facilitating her appearances in films as important as Mamá cumple cien años [Mama’s 100th Birthday] (Carlos Saura, 1979) and Dedicatoria (Jaime Chávarri, 1980), which called her to the attention of other directors in both Spain and Mexico, such as Felipe Cazals (Las siete cucas [The Seven Cuckoos]), Antonio Artero (Trágala perro [Take That, Bitch]), Pilar Miró (Hablamos esta noche [We Will Speak Tonight]), Fernando Méndez-Leite (Sonata de estío [Summertime Sonata]), Jaime Camino (El balcón abierto [The Open Balcony]), Emilio Martínez Lázaro (Lulú de noche [Lulú of the Night]), Imanol Uribe (La luna negra [The Black Moon]), and Fernando León de Aranoa (Familia).
Amparo Muñoz’s movies had their highs and lows with regard to quality, but she grew as an actress throughout her career. Her personal life frequently made the gossip pages, however. She disappeared from film for seven years (1989-1996), living provisionally in the Philippines. There were reports of legal trouble there, where she was sued by a brand name-sized company, and in Spain, where upon her return she was arrested for suspected possession of heroin.
Scandal-loving journalists preyed upon her, publishing true and false stories alike. In 1990, the magazine Ya published an article by Rosa Villacastín which assured that “AIDS has left Amparo Muñoz on the brink of death”; two days later, the same journalist said that the actress had reached the “terminal phase,” claims Amparo Muñoz debunked through medical analysis on Julián Lago’s television program La máquina de la verdad [The Truth Machine]. In that same interview, she was asked if she had ever taken heroin, and journalist Jesús Mariñas even jabbered that she had practiced prostitution, an accusation which left her in tears.
In 2005, she published her memoir, La vida es el precio [Life is the Price], in which she recounted her relationships and her passage through the world of drugs. “I’ve lived my life the best I could, never intending to harm anyone. If I have hurt anyone, it has been myself and my parents, who have suffered a great deal on my account. I’ve always respected everyone, most of all God, though I haven’t been treated with respect myself. I hope that people will start to do that now,” she said, perhaps not expecting that her wish would only be granted upon her death, as a beautiful broken toy.