OBITUARIES: Lola Flores
Although only part gypsy herself, Flores identified strongly with gypsy culture, married a gypsy and often played gypsy girls in her Mexican, Spanish and American films in the Fifties and Sixties. Her dark aquiline features reflected the alleged Egyptian ancestry of the race, too, which was why the Mexican Bolero writer Agustin Lara first dubbed her ''La Faraona'' (the Pharaoh), a sobriquet which was universally adopted.
Lola Flores was one of the most famous of the folcloricas, stars who exalted a romanticised version of Andalusian culture into a symbol of Spain as a whole. The admiration of things Andalusian, started during the republic by intellectuals like Lorca and de Falla, reached its apogee under Franco, and this, plus a strong intrinsic element of kitsch, made Flores's art unfashionable in the Seventies and Eighties. (Although the return swing of the pendulum has begun, as shown by the presence of Almodovar at her funeral and others from the new arts establishment.)
In spite of her naive nationalism - ''Lola of Spain'' was the media nickname that most delighted her - and her cordial relations with Franco, Flores was far too much of a free spirit to pay obeisance to any government and had always retained the respect of young musicians.
Flores was born in 1923 in Jerez de la Frontera. Her mother was a dressmaker and her father ran a bar, in which Lola soon became a precocious and determined teenage entertainer singing bulerias and dancing. In pursuit of the daughter's career the family moved to Madrid, where Lola studied under the famous copla composer Quiroga and began to flourish in cafe concerts.
In 1941 an impresario paired her for the first time with the older flamenco showman Manolo Caracol, and this combination of fiery young dancer and mature singing star, which soon became a romantic as well as a professional involvement, led to huge hit shows such as La Zambra which toured the bullrings and concert halls of the nation for five years.
In 1951 Flores was contracted for six films by the producer Cesareo Gonzalez, who operated the Spanish equivalent of a Hollywood studio system, and whose leading ladies wore mink, travelled in white Mercedes and dominated the headlines of the popular press. During the ensuing two decades, she became hugely famous throughout South America, where she met, and frequently had affairs with eminent Latin musicians and artists. Among the testimonials in the Spanish press were many from Mexico, Argentina, Miami (where she celebrated her 50th anniversary in show business), and Cuba (the novelist Cabrera Infante recalling her remark on pre-revolutionary Havana that it was "just like Cadiz but with black men").
In 1957 Flores married the Barcelona guitarist Antonio Gonzalez "El Pescailla", who more or less invented the Catalan rumba pop style most recently made famous by the Gypsy Kings. They had three children, now all successful entertainers themselves.
Her later years were marred by battles with the tax authorities which resulted in heavy fines and one short suspended prison sentence; and with cancer, which she fought tenaciously for 25 years. She continued to work, and occupy the gossip columns, almost until the end. A friend remembers a night out in the bars and clubs of Madrid with Flores, her husband and some young "new flamenco" artists, finishing at 6am only last July, and Flores was rehearsing another new television special, and a part in the next Carlos Saura film, a month before she died.
Dolores (''Lola'') Flores, singer, actress, entertainer: born Jerez de la Frontera, Spain 21 January 1923; married 1957 Antonio Gonzalez (one son, two daughters); died Madrid 16 May 1995.
From the blogs
A slight deviation from style this week and admittedly a bit weird, but at least I can finally say I...
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Justice, the bedrock of our society is for sale under the Government’s latest plan to sell legal aid...
Take inspiration from the green-fingered brigade who have been showing off their creativity at the R...
That's some guestlist! Stunning images show huge dynastic wedding between Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families which attracted 25,000 guests
'He was always smiling': Lee Rigby named as Woolwich victim
Heathrow airport reopens runways after British Airways plane 'on fire over London' makes emergency landing
Two bailed after arrest over Woolwich attack Twitter comments
Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 3 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Two bailed after arrest over Woolwich attack Twitter comments
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.