Linda Cristal, Who Starred in ‘High Chaparral,’ Dies at 89


Ms. Cristal won a Golden Globe in 1970 as best actress in a drama series for her work on the show.

Credit…NBC/NBCU Photo Bank, via Getty Images

She was born Marta Victoria Moya on Feb. 23, 1931, in Buenos Aires. Her father, Antonio Moya Bourges, was a French immigrant who published magazines. Her mother, the former Rosario Pego, was Italian. In several interviews, Ms. Cristal said that her father came into conflict with a criminal gang and fled with his family to Montevideo, Uruguay. When she was 13, both of her parents died of carbon monoxide poisoning while in their car.

Victoria studied voice and piano at the conservatory and at 16 married the Argentine actor Tito Gómez. The marriage was annulled after only a few weeks. She thought of following the example of her five aunts and entering a convent, but fate intervened.

During a trip to Mexico with her older brother, she was spotted by the producer Miguelito Alemán, son of Miguel Alemán, Mexico’s president, who gave her a small role in one of his films. She later made eight films with the actor and producer Raúl de Anda, using the name Linda Cristal.

“I never became a big star, but then I wouldn’t have been a big nun either,” she told Look magazine in 1960.

Her American film career never gained traction. After appearing in “The Last of the Fast Guns” (1958), “The Fiend Who Walked the West” (1958) and “Cry Tough” (1959), a drama about Puerto Ricans in New York, Ms. Cristal tried to break out of Latino parts by taking the title role in “Cleopatra’s Legions.”

“I was sure that picture would do it for me,” she told Parade magazine in 1960. “We shot it in Spain and Italy. It took three months of hard work, and it made absolutely no sense — I mean the script — but the picture is full of spectacular scenes with a lot of emphasis on Cleopatra’s love life.” She added, “I figured the picture, awful as it is, would do very well in America.”

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