Yolanda Montes

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Yolanda Montes
Yolanda Yvonne Montes Farrington

(1932-01-03) January 3, 1932 (age 89)
Occupationvedette, dancer, actress
Years active1947–present
Spouse(s)Joaquín González

Yolanda Yvonne Montes Farrington (born January 3, 1932 in Spokane, Washington, United States),[1] better known by her stage-name Tongolele, is a Mexican-nationalized American dancer, actress and vedette.

Early life[edit]

Yolanda Yvonne Montes Farrington, was born in Spokane, Washington, United States, on January 3, 1932. Her father, Elmer Sven Móntes, descended from a Spanish father and a Swedish mother.[citation needed] Her mother, Edna Pearl Farrington, of English father and French mother. Her maternal grandmother, Molly (Maeva), was from Tahiti.[citation needed] As a child, she danced for the International Ballet of San Francisco, California as part of a Tahitian Revue.[2]

In 1947, she moved to Mexico and was hired as a dancer by Américo Mancini, a theater impresario. She also appeared in the famous Cabaret Tívoli in Mexico City.[3] Her stage name, "Tongolele", came after mixing African and Tahitian words.[4]


Her career was sheltered by theatrical success in the main theaters and cabarets of Mexico City. Tongolele boosted the success of the "Exoticas", a group of vedettes that caused sensation in Mexico in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Although other vedettes that became popular at the time (like "Kalantán", "Bongala" and Su Muy Key) appeared, none reached the levels of popularity of Tongolele. Yolanda was baptized by Mexican journalist Carlos Estrada Lang as "The Queen of Tahitian Dances", as each night she congregated a wide male audience who adored her perfect silhouette and feline movements that marked an era in Mexico.[4]

She made her film debut in 1948 in the film Nocturne of Love, starring the actress Miroslava Stern. In 1948, she starred in the film ¡Han matado a "Tongolele"!, directed by Roberto Gavaldón. The plot was developed in the theater Folies Bergère of Mexico City. At another level of the plot, several envious people attempted to assassinate her. The film premiered on September 30, 1948.[5]

As a guest, she starred in El rey del barrio (1949) and Kill Me Because I'm Dying! (1951) and the musical Música de siempre (1956).

In 1966, she returned to the cinema and appeared in the terror film The Panther Women. In 1968 she was the film El crepusculo de un dios, directed and carried out by Emilio Fernández.

In 1971, Tongolele played in the Mexican-American co-production Isle of the Snake People. In the film, Tongolele she appeared alongside the American actor Boris Karloff. The plot of the film was located on a small island in the middle of the ocean where some beautiful young women are transformed into blue-faced man-eating zombies. Tongolele played the role of Kalea, the dancer with the snake. In the mid-1960s, CBS recorded a disc titled "Tongolele sings for you" which included 10 songs.[2]

With the rise of Mexico City's nightlife in the 1970s and the rise of the vedettes, Tongolele resumed her career in nightclubs and movies, as well as appearing on television shows. In 1984 she debuted in telenovelas in a special performance in the melodrama La pasión de Isabela.

In 2001 she reappears in Mexican television in the telenovela Salomé.

Between 2011 and 2013, Tongolele participated in the musical stage play Perfume of Gardenia'.'[6]

In 2012, the vedette returned to the cinema with a brief appearance in the film El fantástico mundo de Juan Orol.

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, she married Cuban Joaquin Gonzalez in New York City, who accompanied her until his death. In 1976, Joaquín suffered cardiac problems and he was given a pacemaker. On December 22, 1996 he died. With him, Tongolele had two children in 1950, Ruben and Ricardo (twins).[2]





  1. ^ "'Tahitians' for Latins". Life. March 30, 1953. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Llega Tongolele a 78 años como la bailarina más famosa de América".
  3. ^ "Por esto Yucatán: Article about the Cabaret Tivoli".
  4. ^ a b "Yolanda Montez 'Tongolele' cumplirá años tras ser galardonada". January 2, 2015.
  5. ^ "Tongolele en La Habana".
  6. ^ "Tongolele se une a Perfume de gardenias". archivo.eluniversal.com.mx.


  • Su, Margo; Leduc, Renato (1989) Alta Frivolidad (High Frivolity), México, ed. Cal y Arena, ISBN 9789684931879
  • García Hernández, Arturo (1998) No han matado a "Tongolele" (They have not killed "Tongolele"), México, ed. La Jornada Ediciones, ISBN 9789686719383
  • Agrasánchez Jr., Rogelio (2001) Bellezas del Cine Mexicano (Beauties of the Mexican Cinema), México, ed. Archivo fílmico Agrasánchez, ISBN 968-5077-11-8

External links[edit]