Marta Romero (February 17, 1928 - May 31, 2013) was an actress and singer, and one of the pioneers in Puerto Rican television.
Romero was born in barrio Machuelo Abajo of the city of Ponce, on the south coast of Puerto Rico. In 1943, when she was fifteen years old, she made her debut on radio station WPAB. In 1945, she became the lead singer of the local Ponce orchestra Mingo & His Hoopie Kids. In 1950, Romero became a member to the group Las Damiselas (English: The Ladies), as the lead singer, with composer Sylvia Rexach. In this vocal group, she also sang with Lucy Boscana, then a young singer, and later an actress.
Television acting career
Her debut in television was in 1956, in Telemundo. Romero starred in over 25 telenovelas such as La Divina Infiel (The Divine Unfaithful) in 1962. Her leading man during those times, was the late Spanish actor Ricardo Palmerola. At the time, telenovelas were performed live, since video tape recording did not yet exist. Among other telenovelas in which she participated were Cuatro Mujeres (Four Women), La sombra del otro (The Shadow of the Other One) in 1966; La infamia (The Infamy) in 1967; Cuando los Hijos Condenan (When the Children Condemn) in 1968, and Entre la Espada y la Cruz (Between the Spade and the Cross) with Cuban actor Jose Yedra", among others. In 1975, she made her last appearance in a telenovela, performing in Pueblo Chico (Small Town).
Theater acting career
On May 19, 1960, Romero made her official onstage debut with the play En el Principio la noche era serena (At the Beginning the Night was Serene), written by Gerard Paul Marín, and performed at San Juan's Municipal Teatro Tapia. Among others, her performances onstage in Puerto Rico were La Cuarterona (The Wicket), in 1967; Maribel y la extraña familia (Maribel and the Strange Family) in 1969, and El Hombre, la Bestia y la Virtud (The Man, the Beast and the Virtue), Romero's last performance on stage.
In 1963, she recorded her first album as a singer, Marta Romero Canta (SALP-1336), This LP includes, the boleros “Es tarde ya” (It's Too Late Now), composed by Sylvia Rexach and "¿Qué sabes tú?” (What Do You Know?), composed by Myrta Silva.
In 1965, she performed at the Lírico Theater in Mexico. During her frequent performances, her musical director was Mexican composer and pianist Armando Manzanero.
In 1959, Marta Romero performed the leading role in Maruja, one of the first Puerto Rican films actually made in Puerto Rico. Later, she starred in several films in Puerto Rico: Ayer Amargo (Bitter Yesterday) in 1959; La fiebre del deseo (The Fever of Desire), La piel desnuda (The Naked Skin) and Mientras Puerto Rico duerme (Meanwhile Puerto Rico Sleeps) in 1964; Bello amanecer (Beautiful Daybreak) in 1966 and Amor perdóname (Forgive Me Love) in 1967.
In Mexico City she starred in El Señor Doctor (Mister Doctor) with Mario Moreno Cantinflas and Miguel Angel Alvarez, and Retablos del Tepeyac (Altarpieces of Tepeyac) in 1965; “Casa de mujeres” (House of Women) with Dolores del Río, Matar es fácil (Killing is Easy ) in 1966; La fiera (The Wild Beast), La sombra del murciélago (The Shadow of the Bat), Las vampiras/Deseo de sangre (The vampires/Desire for blood), with John Carradine, Un Latin lover en Acapulco (A Latin Lover in Acapulco) in 1967, and Una puertorriqueña en Acapulco (A Puerto Rican Girl in Acapulco) in 1968.
Romero, was married five different times. Her first husband was the Puerto Rican singer Felipe Rodriguez, "La voz". In 1981 she was married for the last time, to Elías Najul Bez. The couple established their home in the municipality of Isabela, Puerto Rico. Najul Bez died in 2006.
Later years and honors
Romero retired as an actress and bolero singer because she embraced the Christian faith in the Puerta del Cielo (Heaven's Door) church, located in Caguas, Puerto Rico in 1975. Later, she became a preacher at "Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal" (Pentecostal Church of God), and continued vocalizing Christian gospel songs. In the 1980s, she recorded her last album as an evidence of her faith in God, titled "He Vuelto a Nacer" (I Have Been Born Again). She died 31 May 2013. On September 21, 2013, the city of Ponce dedicated the 2013 edition of its Dia Mundial de Ponce to her. On 12 December 2013, Romero was honored with a ceremony and added to the list of illustrious Ponce citizens at the Park of the Illustrious Ponce Citizens in Ponce's Tricentennial Park.