Text published in the magazine Arte por Excelencias No. 42
Por: Diana Rosa Risco
Foto: Angelo Salas
Odalys Fuentes, face of the advertising of the fifties in Cuba, whose aura of mystery and seduction led her to fame as a model and actress of Cuban radio and TV, continues to conquer the public after more than five decades of artistic career, recognized with the Prize for the Work of Life 2016, granted by the Performing Arts Artistic Agency Actuar.
According to testimonies, the American businessman Frank Max Factor Junior, president of the Max Factor Cosmetics empire, seduced by his angelic profile, traveled expressly to the island to hire her: «You have a perfect face and skin, I want you to be our model for Latin America, "he said.
This is how Celia Odalys Fuentes Armas, a young woman of peasant origin who has just arrived in Havana, is followed by stars of the magnitude of Ben Turpin, Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford, Pola Negri, Jean Harlow, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland.
Odalys appears for the first time in the CMQ TV accompanying the famous Chilean boleroist Lucho Gatica in the musical theme Novia mía, after winning a casting in the School of Television of Raúl Pumarejo. The success of this live audition was such that attractive offers were poured, one of them from the Hatuey brewery, which hired her as an exclusive model.
Selected by the magazine Bohemia as the most portrayed woman of the year 1959, it advertised products of all kinds, from cosmetics, beachwear, to car tires, bicycles, drinks ... However, not everything was rosy: being popular also involved be a victim of celebrity gossip. This did not stop his desire to surpass himself intellectually until getting to be part of the cast of Cuban actors and actresses most sought after and sought by the directors of radio and television.
«One day Héctor Garriga, famous Cuban television director, told me that he was writing for me one of the characters in his novel Puerto Esperanza. I told him I did not know how to act, and nobly he replied that if he wanted to do it he would support me in everything. And so it was: despite opinions against the models, he trusted me and it was not necessary to eliminate my character before time, because I won the public and continue the career as an actress.
»I had the opportunity to share the stage with the great actress Raquel Revuelta in the soap opera Doña Bárbara, by Rómulo Gallegos, which was a great success of Cuban TV. It's amazing the security that she gave me to play Marisela, a wild young woman who made me very popular as an actress ».
Since 1959, when the Cuban Revolution triumphs, Odalys joins the actions of its political organizations. He recalls with sympathy his meeting with the then Dominican Ambassador Porfirio Ruborosa and his wife, who invited her to Paris. Then he travels to the United States and returns to Cuba in 1962, where he assumes female characters of the writer Aleyda Maya, a collaborator of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), who was dedicated to creating stories that would serve as an example in the change of mentalities that I pretended against machista attitudes and behaviors.
«I interpreted characters of a new type that represent the emancipation of women. One of them was the mother of Nacho Capitán in the telenovela Tierra brava, for which the public still identifies and praises me, based on the work of Dora Alonso, one of the greatest writers in Cuba, who had over a hundred chapters and it was a great success, like El naranjo del patio, original by Gerardo Fernández, where I also worked as an actress ».
Odalys Fuentes has not only been a model whose beauty and magnetism attracted followers all over the world, but a disciplined actress who achieved everything that was proposed with effort and humility, hence her angel continues to delight those of us who have the pleasure of know him and admire him.