Míriam Colón

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Míriam Colón
Miriam Colon 1962.jpg
Colón, 1962.
Born Míriam Colón Valle
(1936-08-20)20 August 1936
Ponce, Puerto Rico
Died 3 March 2017(2017-03-03) (aged 80)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Complications from a pulmonary infection
Occupation Actress
Years active 1953–2015
Known for Mama Montana – Scarface
  • George Paul Edgar
    (m. 1966; d. 1976)
  • Fred Valle
    (m. 1987–2017)

Míriam Colón (born Míriam Colón Valle;[note 1] August 20, 1936 – March 3, 2017) was a Puerto Rican actress. Colón was the founder and director of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York City. Beginning her career in the early 1950s, Colón started performing on Broadway; later moving into television. Known for appearances on various television shows from 1960s through the 2010s, Colón was perhaps best known for her role as Mama Montana in the 1983 crime film Scarface; in 2014, Colón received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.[1] Colón died of complications from a pulmonary infection on March 3, 2017 at age 80.

Early life[edit]

Colón was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico on August 20, 1936,[2] she was a young girl in the 1940s when her recently divorced mother moved the family to a public housing project called Residencial Las Casas in San Juan. She attended the Román Baldorioty de Castro High School in Old San Juan, where she actively participated in the school's plays,[2] her first drama teacher, Marcos Colón (no relation) believed that she was very talented; with his help, she was permitted to observe the students in the drama department of the University of Puerto Rico. She was a good student in high school and was awarded scholarships that enabled her to enroll in the Dramatic Workshop and Technical Institute and also in The Lee Strasburg Acting Studio in New York City.[3]


External audio
Colón's debute in "Los Peloteros" on YouTube

In 1953, Colón debuted as an actress in Los Peloteros (The Baseball Players), starring Ramón (Diplo) Rivero, a film produced in Puerto Rico, and in which she played a character called "Lolita."[3] That same year, Colón moved to New York City, where she was accepted by Actors Studio co-founder Elia Kazan after a single audition,[4][5] thus becoming the Studio's first Puerto Rican member.[6] In New York, Colón worked in theater and later landed a role on the soap opera Guiding Light, on one occasion she attended a performance of René Marqués' La Carreta (The Oxcart). That presentation motivated her to form the first Hispanic theater group, with the help of La Carreta's producer, Roberto Rodríguez, called "El Circuito Dramático".[7]

Colón and James Arness in Gunsmoke, 1970

In 1954 she appeared on stage in "In The Summer House" at the Play House in New York City.[8] Between 1954 and 1974, Colón made guest appearances in television shows such as Peter Gunn and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, she appeared mostly in westerns such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The High Chaparral, and Have Gun, Will Travel. Colón appeared in the 1961 film One-eyed Jacks as "the Redhead"; in 1962, she was featured as the co-star in a teleplay written by Frank Gabrielsen, and produced for the TV series The DuPont Show of the Week. The title of the hour-long episode was "The Richest Man in Bogota", and it aired on 17 June 1962,[9] it starred Lee Marvin as Juan de Núñez, and Miriam Colón as "Marina" (not Medina-Saroté, as in the original H.G. Wells story, The Country of the Blind).

In 1979, she starred alongside fellow Puerto Rican actors José Ferrer, Raúl Juliá, and Henry Darrow in Life of Sin, a film in which she portrayed Isabel la Negra, a real-life Puerto Rican brothel owner. In 1983, she played the mother of Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino) in Scarface. She was also cast as "María" in the 1999 film Gloria, which starred Sharon Stone. In 2013, Colón was cast in the role of Ultima, a New Mexico Hispanic healer, in the movie "Bless Me, Ultima" based on the novel by Rudolfo Anaya.[10]

Puerto Rican Traveling Theater[edit]

Puerto Rican Travelling Theater

In the late 1960s, Colón founded The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater company on West 47th street in Manhattan, New York, the company presents Off-Broadway productions onsite and goes on tour. She was the director of the company and she has appeared in these PRTT productions:[11]

  • The Ox Cart (1966–1967)[12]
  • The Boiler Room (1993)[13]
  • Simpson Street
  • Señora Carrar's Rifles

The play The Ox Cart (La Carreta), written by Puerto Rican dramatist René Marqués, was first produced in 1953. It was directed by Roberto Rodríguez. starring Colón. The success of the play allowed Rodríguez and Colón to form the first permanent Hispanic theatrical group to have its own space, Teatro Arena, located in Manhattan on Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th street.[14]


National Medal of Arts

In 1993, Colón received an Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater; in 2000, she received the HOLA Raúl Juliá Founders Award, presented by the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA).

Colón's biography, titled Míriam Colón: Actor and Theater Founder, was written by Mayra Fernandez in 1994.[9][10]

In 2014, President Barack Obama awraded Colón the National Medal of Arts for her contributions as an actress, the citation reads as follows: "Ms. Colón has been a trailblazer in film, television, and theater, and helped open doors for generations of Hispanic actors."[15]

Personal life[edit]

Colón was married to George Paul Edgar from 1966 until his death in 1976.[16] Colón lived the final years of her life in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her second husband Fred Valle, whom she married in 1987.


Colón died on March 3, 2017, at the age of 80, in New York City of complications from a pulmonary infection.[17]



  • In The Summer House (1954)
  • The Innkeepers (1956)
  • The Wrong Way Lightbulb (1969)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Colón and the second or maternal family name is Valle.


  1. ^ Arts. Gov - Míriam Colón
  2. ^ a b Kelley, Seth (March 4, 2017). "Miriam Colon, Latina Film and Theater Pioneer Known for 'Scarface,' Dies at 80". Varitey. United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Miriam Colón". 
  4. ^ Bosworth 1971, p. D5.
  5. ^ Garfield 1980, p. 277.
  6. ^ Moreno 1989, p. 30.
  7. ^ "Danny en 'Coincidencias'… y en San Juan". 31 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Miriam Colon Biography (1945-)". Film Reference Library. Toronto: TIFF Bell Lightbox. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  9. ^ "The Richest Man in Bogota". TV Guide. 10 (24). June 16–22, 1962. 
  10. ^ Associated Press (March 3, 2017). "Miriam Colon, iconic U.S. Latina movie, theater actress, dies at 80". Daily News. New York City: Daily News, L.P. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  11. ^ The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater
  12. ^ The Ox Cart at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  13. ^ The Boiler Room at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  14. ^ Kanellos, Nicolás (2003). Hispanic Literature of the United States: A Comprehensive Reference. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 273. 
  15. ^ National Endowments for the Arts
  16. ^ Gates, Anita (March 5, 2017). "Miriam Colón, 80, Actress and Founder of Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Dies". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  17. ^ Contreras, Russell (March 3, 2017). "U.S. News: Miriam Colón, Iconic US Latina Movie, Theater Actress, Dies". U.S. News & World Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. News & World Report, L.P. Associated Press. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 

External links[edit]