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Diaz (Margarita Mendez) Scrapbook and Photographs
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This collection contains one scrapbook as well as approximately 370 photographs and postcards; nine contracts; one American Guild of Variety Artists membership application; one broadside; and other documents regarding Margarita Mendez Diaz- a Mexican American performer who was known for her dancing and burlesque shows. The scrapbook includes press clippings, advertisements, and press briefs associated with Diaz's performances in Mexico, Alaska, California, Spain, and France. Also included in this collection are photographs and postcards that include headshots and images of Diaz in various costumes she wore during her performances; candid photographs presumably of Diaz's friends and family and locations where she performed; and portraits and autographed headshots of other dancers and performers. Finally, this collection also includes a few show set lists and notes; booking contracts; and other documents.
Born in Pima, Arizona in 1908 to Gabriel F. Diaz and Maria Francisca Mendez who emigrated from Mexico in 1890 and 1898 respectively; Margarita Mendez Diaz was a performer most known for her style of Spanish interpretive dancing. Purportedly a direct decendant of "Forfirio [Porfirio] Diaz" on her father's side, Diaz was raised in Tucson and Goodyear, Arizona, and had a sister named, Nattie Diaz-Jaso, as well as five other siblings. Margarita began performing as a teenager in the American Southwest and Mexico before moving with her family to Barcelona, Spain. Diaz lived in cities in Europe such as London, Paris, Berlin, and Lisbon for ten years before returning to the United States in April 1944 as a refugee of the Spanish Civil War. Diaz lived in Barcelona for four years with her husband during which she endured hardships such as daily rationing and at some point sustained shrapnel wounds in her legs, before successfully crossing the border into Portugal and living in Lisbon as dancer at a cafe until returning to the United States. During her time as a dancer, Margarita performed under the stage names, "Viola Mendez" and "Carmencita Mendez". Diaz was known for her act as a "Spanish dancer" where she was known to "play castanets and dance". She was also knownn for her extensive wardobe which was once valued at $50,000. (Los Angeles Examiner, September 12, 1952)
2 boxes (1 scrapbook; approximately 370 photographs and postcards; nine contracts; one broadside; and other documents)
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All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.