Lupe Vélez (July 18, 1908 – December 13, 1944) was a Mexican film actress. Vélez began her career in Mexico as a dancer, before moving to the U.S. where she worked in vaudeville. She was seen by Fanny Brice who promoted her, and Vélez soon entered films, making her first appearance in 1924. By the end of the decade she had progressed to leading roles. With the advent of talking pictures Vélez acted in comedies, but she became disappointed with her film career, and moved to New York where she worked in Broadway productions.
In the mid-1940s, she had a relationship with the young actor Harald Maresch, and became pregnant with his child. Vélez, following her Catholic upbringing, refused to have an abortion. Unable to face the shame of giving birth to an illegitimate child, she decided to take her own life. Her suicide note read, "To Harald: May God forgive you and forgive me, too; but I prefer to take my life away and our baby's, before I bring him with shame, or killing him. Lupe." She retired to bed after taking an overdose of sleeping pills. According to newspaper accounts, her body was found by her secretary and companion of ten years, Beulah Kinder.
In a poll of Mexican filmgoers, actresses like Marquita Rivera and Amalia Aguilar were chosen to star in a Hollywood film based on the life of the actress. However, due to the controversy over Vélez's suicide at that time, the film was never produced.
There is skepticism surrounding whether it was simply the shame of bearing an illegitimate child that led Vélez to end her life. Throughout her life she showed signs of extreme emotion, mania and depression. Consequently, it has been suggested that Vélez suffered from bipolar disorder, which, left untreated, ultimately led to her suicide. Rosa Linda Fregoso writes that Vélez was known for her defiance of contemporary moral convention, and it seems unlikely that she could not have reconciled an "illegitimate child."
Lupe Vélez was encrypted at the Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres in México City.
In the first episode of the sitcom Frasier, "The Good Son," Frasier Crane's producer Roz Doyle tries to improve Frasier's outlook on his life by telling him the story of Lupe Vélez, "last seen with her head in the toilet." Apparently according to Roz, the pills she had taken did not mix well with "the enchilada combo plate she sadly chose as her last meal." When Frasier asks how her story is supposed to make him feel better, Roz responds that sometimes things don't go the way we want them to, but can work out in the end, anyway. She adds, "All she wanted was to be remembered. Will you ever forget that story?"