Ana Bertha Lepe: the beauty queen who was a star until her father destroyed her life

In Mexican entertainment there are numerous black, tragic legends, bathed in blood and tragedy, but few are as impressive and of such long-lasting effect as the one lived by Ana Bertha Lepe, who was the first Miss Mexico to stand out in international contests and had a Brief but substantial passage through the last years of the so-called “golden age” of national cinema, before something horrible destroyed his career… and his life.

Ana Bertha Lepe in 1960 (AMACC Archive)

Ana Bertha Lepe in 1960 (AMACC Archive)

Born in Tecolotitlán, Jalisco, on September 12, 1934, Ana Bertha was a beautiful girl with an exceptional figure, who began working as a model at a very young age after a talent scout saw a photo of her in a studio window. photography in the center of the city of Guadalajara.

Soon, Ana Bertha and her father moved to the capital, where she began her career as a film extra, while posing for clothing catalogs at just 17 years old. She also took singing, dancing and acting classes, with the intention of being a complete vedette.

This eventually led her to participate in the Señorita México pageant in 1952 where she won the crown and the scepter for her curvaceous figure, her experience as a model, her natural sympathy and the charisma that the girl radiated at that time. In 1953 she participated in the second edition of the Miss Universe pageant, which was held in Long Beach, California, where she was fourth runner-up (the winner that year was Miss France, Christiane Martel, who, ironically, would make a career in Mexico as an actress and would retire when she married Miguel Alemán Velasco, son of a former president and millionaire).

For years that would be the highest position that a Mexican could reach in the beauty pageant, until 1991, when Lupita Jones was crowned Miss Universe, very controversially, being the first contestant in her history who had won after having undergone obvious cosmetic surgeries. .

As a result of this contest, fortune smiled on Ana Bertha and her popularity went through the roof: she got film contracts, appearances in the (then new) medium of television, and above all, opportunities to appear in prestigious nightclubs. dancing and singing accompanied by famous orchestras. This, of course, generated a lot of money that Guillermo Lepe, her father, managed, although sources from the time say that he was also a possessive and jealous man: that he always had his daughter under surveillance and that he was not kind to her multiple suitors, among others. the ones that included figures from entertainment, politics and finance, since in them he saw a threat to his daughter’s burgeoning career — which, of course, paid him handsome dividends.

Ana Bertha Lepe in 1953, the year in which she participatedó at Miss Universe (AMACC Archive)

Ana Bertha Lepe in 1953, the year she participated in Miss Universe (AMACC Archive)

There are those who claim that Lepe had an unhealthy fixation with his daughter; that her jealousy went beyond parental concern or financial interest, and that adds more Dantesque overtones to what happened to Ana Bertha when she was in the best moment of her career.

In 1959, Ana Bertha met actor Agustín de Anda, son of producer Raúl de Anda, who began to become a frequent visitor to her show at the luxurious La Fuente cabaret, which existed on Avenida de los Insurgentes. Charismatic, handsome and very popular with women, de Anda spent a lot of money on champagne and other luxuries when he went to the show and soon those details conquered the actress, who corresponded with the leading man, although he had romances with other figures of the high society and also with girls of more modest origins, linked to film studios, something that even if Ana Bertha knew about them, she didn’t care too much, or at least it seemed that way because she was in love.

(AMACC archive)

Ana Bertha Lepe and Agustín de Anda with José Elías Moreno in 1959 (AMACC Archive)

The romance, which was highly publicized by newspapers and magazines and which put Lepe by word of mouth, came to an abrupt end on the night of May 29, 1960, while she performed, as she did night after night, at La Fuente.

As she herself would recount in an extensive TV interview, years later, that night she noticed a strange restlessness in the environment and that the audience gathered in the room was not focused on the show; she did not know anything until the end of her performance of what had happened at the rear exit of the premises.

According to witnesses, the actress’s father used to pick her up at midnight to take her back home, but the night of the murder, while waiting for his daughter to finish, Lepe had a heated argument with Agustín de Anda, who informed him that he would not he was going to marry his daughter and that she knew it, words that infuriated him and led him to pull out a 38-caliber pistol and shoot her twice, one in the head and the other in the chest.

Guillermo was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison for manslaughter. The scandal was huge and Ana Bertha’s face appeared in all the newspapers of the moment; her shock was tremendous, and although she worked in some films, she became deeply depressed while her father was serving his sentence in prison, and at the end of the decade she practically disappeared from the scene.

According to what her friends told, Ana Bertha took a phobia to go out on the street because of the harassment of the press; she suspended her performances, stopped working and started drinking too much, locked in her house. She, prey to alcohol, gained weight until she lost the enviable figure she had and her brilliant career, she was finished.

It was not until 1977 that she reappeared in the telenovela ‘Pacto de amor’, invited by Ernesto Alonso, who never unprotected her, helping her financially during her confinement. Without her beauty, Ana Bertha made an effort to be a serious actress and she sought to become a character actress, something that allowed her to work until 2001, although she never returned to have the glamor that she had in the best of times. her.

She never married, nor did she have children, haunted by the specter of this tragedy; her father died in prison and she did not forgive him. Little by little, his resources ran out and he depended on ANDA, which covered his last expenses when he died at the age of 69 as a result of complications from surgery for a hernia, on October 24, 2013, a star extinguished by a violent act that haunted her forever.

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Ana Bertha Lepe: the beauty queen who was a star until her father destroyed her life