Mario Montez (1935–2013)

Mario Montez, who was born as René Rivera in Puerto Rico and renamed himself while a teenager in homage to actress Maria Montez, has passed away at the age of seventy-eight. Most widely known as one of Andy Warhol’s superstars—from 1964 to 1966 he appeared in thirteen of the artist’s films—Montez was an icon of the 1950s and ’60s underground scene in New York. His career began when he met Jack Smith, who cast him in Flaming Creatures (1963); he then appeared in several films by the artist, including Normal Love (1963–65). In 1977 he vanished from the public eye, moving to Orlando, Florida and working clerical jobs for the next three-plus decades. He resurfaced in 2006, taking part in a documentary about Jack Smith. In 2010, Montez was honored by Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race as one of the “most gifted performers of the underground period.”