Grande Dame 🎬🎭
China Zorrilla, born Conception Matilde Zorrilla of San Martín Muñoz on the 14 March 1922 in Montevideo, was an emblematic Uruguayan theater, film, and television actress, also director, producer, pianist and writer. An immensely popular star in the Rioplatense area, she is often regarded as a Grande Dame of the South American theater stage.
Born in Montevideo into an aristocratic Uruguayan family, “China” was the second of the five daughters of the Argentinian Guma Muñoz del Campo and the Uruguayan sculptor José Luis Zorrilla de San Martin, disciple of Antoine Bourdelle, responsible for monuments like The Obelisk of Montevideo, officially listed as the Obelisk to the Constituents of 1830.
Revered as Uruguay’s national poet, her paternal grandfather was Juan Zorrilla de San Martín, author of Tabaré. An artistic family, her older sister, Guma Zorrilla (1919-2001), was a well respected theater costume designer for the Uruguayan stage.
She founded the theater of the city of Montevideo in 1961.
Concepcion Matilde Zorrilla, produced, translated, adapted and directed plays and operas by Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi.
Her childhood was spent in Paris and she always loved acting unconditionally from an early age.
She started in the independent theater in 1943 and she arrived in London with a grant from the British Council to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
In his passage through London he met important figures of cultural and political history as Winston Churchill.
On her return she debuted in the Uruguayan national comedy where she performed in more than 80 plays as a first actress
Among other activities she performed as a correspondent for the Madrid newspaper “El País”, she was a pianist and composer, a French teacher in New York and even a volunteer nurse in Argentina.
“Darse cuenta”, “Elsa y Fred”, “Besos en la frente”, “Tocar el cielo” and the classic “Esperando la Carroza” are among dozens of works in which she acted. And among so many characters who came to life through it is also the name of another great figure of culture, the writer Victoria Ocampo, whom China Zorrilla not only met but also performed in theater in “Eva and Victoria” next to Luisina Brando.
Today, September 17, 3 years have passed since we’ve stopped hearing that peculiar voice or any of her stories, but her work, will continue to shine.