Not only has she been one of the leading actresses in Spanish cinema and theater, but she is also one of the secondary actresses that everyone puts a face on. And also, due to her political militancy, she was one of the most controversial actresses. Lola Gaos was an incredibly cultured person, a great intellectual who on the Spanish scene premiered ‘La casa de Bernarda Alba’ as soon as possible, and in film she worked under the orders of the greatest, from Luis Buñuel and Berlanga to José Luis Borau . This December 2 its centenary is celebrated.
Dolores Gaos González-Pola, known as Lola Gaos (Valencia, December 2, 1921 – Madrid, July 4, 1993) was one of the great secondary actresses of Spanish cinema, especially remembered for her work in the role of Chus in ‘ My dear young lady ‘(1972) by Jaime de Armiñán, and Martina in’ Furtivos’ (1975), by José Luis Borau, some key films in the transition from Francoism to democracy. She was a woman anti-Franco activist, independent, vindictive and feminist. He was not a member of any political party, although he collaborated with several left-wing parties. In 1976 she was one of the promoters of the Democratic Association of Women.
He grew up in a cultured, middle-class, left-wing and republican family forming part of a saga of artists and intellectuals. His father José Gaos y Berea, a native of La Coruña and his mother Josefa González-Pola y Menéndez, Asturian from Gijón, they had fourteen children of whom nine survived, they knew how to transmit to their children their passion for culture, music and freedom as well as their commitment to republican values. José Gaos y Berea was a benchmark in Valencia during the Second Republic and the family residence became a place of pilgrimage for national and international intellectuals.
His older brother, José Gaos, professor of logic, held the chair of Ortega y Gasset, of whom he was one of his most notable disciples, before going into exile in Mexico at the end of the Civil War, where he created a whole school of thought in the universities in that country. Another brother, Vicente, was a well-known poet and teacher, like his brother Alejandro, professor of Philosophy and poet, who died relatively young. Angel and Ignacio were writers as well as actor and writer the former and translator the latter. His father died in 1939 in a French concentration camp at the end of the Civil War and the family decided to go into exile in Mexico.
The initial destiny of Lola Gaos was to study medicine but the Civil War truncated her expectations when she had to go into exile with her family in 1939 and redirected her career to acting. In Mexico he began to work in the theater. The type of characters she played was due to her peculiar physique: lean with a hoarse tone of voice, it is common to find her in torn roles giving life to dark, dramatic or strange characters, of a villager, witch or maid, being considered one of the great secondary actresses of Spanish cinema.
Right from the start
Back in Spain in 1945, Lola Gaos starts from scratch and under adverse circumstances. In those years he began to work in the theater and made contact with some of the theater companies of the actresses Mercedes Prendes, Mary Carrillo and the actor Guillermo Marín. His creations include roles in ‘Espectros’ and the premiere in Spain of ‘La casa de Bernarda Alba’ by García Lorca (1950), ‘Las viejas humana’ (1966) by Carlos Muñíz, ‘El pelícano’ (1968) by August Strindberg, and in ‘De San Pascual a San Gil’, by Domingo Miras.
His appearances on television date back to the first moments of the medium in Spain, and already in 1957, when TVE had only been broadcasting for a year, he starred in the series ‘Los Tele-Rodríguez’, by Arturo Ruiz Castillo. He would later participate in emblematic spaces and series of Spanish television, such as ‘History of frivolity’, ‘Stories to not sleep’, ‘Estudio 1’, ‘Teatro de siempre’, ‘Novela’, ‘El Irreal Madrid’ (1969) , ‘Three were three’ (1972-1973) or ‘Lorca, death of a poet’ (1987), working with Chicho Ibáñez Serrador, Valerio Lazarov, Jaime de Armiñán or Juan Antonio Bardem. Out of all her work for RTVE, her performance in the play ‘Medea’, by Eurípides, stands out, which was broadcast in the program ‘Teatro de siempre’, in December 1966, accompanied by Agustín González and María Luisa Ponte.
Lola Gaos worked on more than fifty films, the first in 1949, ‘El sótano’, directed by Jaime de Mayora, with a script written by Camilo José Cela. In subsequent years, and especially from the sixties, she became a prestigious supporting actress in essential titles in the history of cinema in Spain, working under Luis Buñuel (‘Tristana’, ‘Viridiana’ ), Luis García Berlanga (‘The executioner’), José María Forqué (‘Robbery at three’), Jaime de Armiñán (‘My dear young lady’) or Juan Antonio Bardem. His main role stands out among all, along with Ovidi Montllor, in ‘Furtivos’ (1975), by José Luis Borau, his only protagonist. He also participated in ‘Marianela’ (1972) directed by Angelino Fons, and in ‘Sonámbulos’ (1978) by Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón.
In 1983, Francisco Umbral in the newspaper El País published a letter written by Lola Gaos explaining her financial difficulties and hardships. «I have been hospitalized for about two months, with an illness that has left me unable to work, even in the unlikely event that I had a job. From my husband, from whom I am separated, I collect 40,000 pesetas a month, from which my daughter Inés and I have to live. Inés, a journalism graduate, is unemployed. The pension that I have told you runs the risk of staying at 10,000 pesetas. It is simply about working to eat.
His last film, in 1988
He shot his last film in 1988, a story about sailors entitled ‘Gran Sol’, directed by Ferran Llagostera. A larynx operation had rendered her almost voiceless and ill. She died of intestinal cancer on July 4, 1993 at the age of 71 after several years ostracized and with financial hardship.
The actress had married in 1945 with the lawyer Gonzalo Castelló Gómez-Trevijano (who contributed to the marriage a daughter, Luz) and with whom she had a daughter, Inés (who died in 2003). She divorced him in 1982. A communist and feminist activist, Lola Gaos was not a member of any party but stood out for her commitment to defending freedom, women’s rights and the fight against the Franco regime. In 1976 She was one of the promoters of the Democratic Association of Women together with Francisca Sauquillo, and participated in numerous assemblies with her colleagues, also giving conferences and rallies.
The writer and poet Rafael Calero Palma, in July 2019, in a profile of Lola Gaos, recalled the interview conducted by Diego Galán for Spanish Television shortly before his death in the series ‘Queridos comicos’. It was made at his home and behind it was a photograph of Ernesto Ché Guevara. About her role as an actress she explained: «The actor is not given the category of worker, I don’t know why. When I go to work I am hired with a salary that will be larger or smaller, but exactly the same as the man who fixes my television. So why do they call us artists and deny us the category of workers? ”
The actress obtained two Medals from the Circle of Cinematographic Writers. The first in 1972 as Best Supporting Actress in a group effort, and the other in 1975 as the best leading actress for ‘Furtivos’. In 1989 XVII Malaga International Auteur Film Week (former Benalmádena), he dedicated a tribute to Lola Gaos by screening ‘Viridiana’, ‘Sonámbulos’ and ‘Tristana’. Three Spanish towns have streets with their names, Valencia, Collado Villalba and Roquetas del Mar.