Stars of Philippine Cinema's Golden Age

Monday July 21, 2014 ()

The 50s may be considered one "Golden Age" for the Filipino film because cinematic artistic breakthrough was achieved in that decade. Awards were first instituted in this era. The Manila Times Publishing Company set up the Maria Clara Awards in 1950. In 1952, the FAMAS (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) Awards were handed out. More so, Filipino films started garnering awards in international film festivals. One such honor was bestowed on Manuel Conde's immortal movie Genghis Khan (1952) when it was accepted for screening at the Venice Film Festival. Other honors include awards for movies like Gerardo de Leon’s Ifugao (1954) and Lamberto Avellana’s Anak Dalita. These awards also had the effect of finally garnering for Filipino films their share of attention from fellow Filipinos.

Studios like Sampaguita Pictures and LVN, established before the war, stopped production during the Japanese occupation, reestablished themselves, bouncing back quickly during this decade. Another studio, Premiere Productions, was earning a reputation for "the vigor and the freshness" of some of its films. This was the period of the "Big Four" (Sampaguita, LVN, Premiere and Lebran) when the industry operated under the studio system. Each studio had its own set of stars, technicians and directors, all lined up for a sequence of movie after movie every year therefore maintaining a monopoly of the industry. The system allowed stars and directors to improve their skills while assuring moviegoers a variety of movies for a whole year.

The following are some of the notable stars (younger versions of themselves) of this era in Philippine Cinema. Please click on each item to view the larger copy.

Alicia Vergel
Alicia Vergel. Vergel was born on June 7, 1927 in Ermita, Manila as Erlinda Gaerlan Asturias noted for her roles as fighting women and amazons and for her heart-shaped face. She married Sampaguita Pictures leading man Cesar Ramirez and had two children who are also celebrities, Ace Vergel and Beverly Vergel.
Amalia Fuentes
Amalia Fuentes. Amalia was born August 27, 1940 as Amalia Muhlach. She was dubbed the Elizabeth Taylor of the Philippines. She is aunt of actors Aga Muhlach and Nino Muhlach. She is the mother of also an actress Liezel Martinez. She was the first Filipina Lux Soap model. She was once married to Romeo Vasquez.
Fernando Poe, Jr.
Fernando Poe, Jr was born Ronald Allan Kelley Poe was born on August 20, 1939. He was colloquially known as FPJ. His long career as an action film star earned him the moniker "King of Philippine Movies" (often shortened to Da King). Poe was posthumously declared a National Artist of the Philippines for Film on May 23, 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The award was confirmed by President Benigno Aquino III on July 20, 2012, and was presented to his family on August 16, 2012. He died on December 14, 2004.
Anita Linda
Anita Linda, born Alice Buenaflor Lake on November 23, 1924 is a two-time FAMAS award-winning and Gawad Urian award-winning Filipino film actress. A romantic lead in her youth, she later gained critical acclaim for her portrayals in maternal or elderly roles. At the age of 74, she became the oldest actress to ever win a FAMAS award, when she was named Best Supporting Actress for Ang Babae sa Bubungang Lata. In 2008, at age 83, she was named Best Actress in the 10th Cinemanila International Film Festival (Southeast Asia Film Competition) for her portrayal of the titular character in Adela. Linda was born in Pasay City, the daughter of an American soldier/mining engineer father and Ilonggo mother.
Bella Flores
Bella Flores was born Medina P. Dancel on February 27, 1929. She is a FAMAS award-winning best known for her "iconic" portrayals of film villains. Flores has appeared in over 100 films. She received the 1967 FAMAS Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Ang Kaibigan Kong Santo Niño.
Eddie Garcia
Eddie Garcia was born Eduardo Verchez García on May 2, 1929. He is the most awarded and nominated person in the long history of the FAMAS Awards. He garnered a total of 34 nominations (13 for Best Supporting Actor, 10 for Best Actor and 11 for Best Director). Out of these, he got 6 Best Supporting Actor wins, 5 Best Actor wins and 5 Best Director wins, 3 Hall of Fame Awards, 1 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award. He was awarded his first FAMAS Award in 1957 and his last FAMAS, a Hall of Fame for Best Actor, in 2003. He is also the first actor to be inducted in the FAMAS Best Supporting Actor Hall of Fame FAMAS in 1974.
Susan Roces
Susan Roces born Jesusa Purificacion Sonora on July 28, 1941 is the widow of Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, better known as Fernando Poe, Jr. Born to a French American mother and a Filipino father of Spanish and Chinese descent, Roces is a member of one of the country's biggest clans, the Locsin family of Negros Occidental. Their forebear Wo Sin Lok, a peddler from Amoy, had himself baptised into the Catholic Church as Agustín Locsin and married Cecilia Sayson of Molo.
Paraluman was born Sigrid Sophia Agatha von Giese on December 14, 1923. She was a FAMAS-award winning Filipino actress active from the 1940s to the 1970s. She was a contemporary of the likes of Fernando Poe, Sr. and Marlene Daudén and was a major contract star of Sampaguita Pictures. Paraluman was born in Tayabas, Quezon, of a German father and a Filipino mother. Paraluman died of cardiac arrest at the aged of 85 on 27 April 27, 2009, at her home in Parañaque City.
Luis Gonzales
Luis Gonzales was born Luis Mercado on August 8, 1928. He appeared in more than 100 films during his career, most of them by Sampaguita Pictures. Gonzales died of complications from pneumonia and heart problems at Makati Medical Center on the night of March 15, 2012, at the age of 83.
Romeo Vasquez
Romeo Vasquez was born Roberto Sumilang in 1942. He was the former husband of Philippine movie queen Amalia Fuentes. He is the father of actress Liezl.
Tita Duran
Tita Duran was born Teresita Durango in 1929. She began as a child actress, the first ever successful child star of Philippine cinema. Actor Pancho Magalona was her husband. She is the mother of the late Filipino rapper Francis Magalona and grandmother to Maxene Magalona. Duran started her career as an 8 yr old child who was abandoned by their mother in 1936 family-drama of Awit ng mga Ulila.
Dolphy was born Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr. on July 25, 1928. He is widely regarded as the country's King of Comedy for his comedic talent embodied by his long roster of works on stage, radio, television and movies.
Gloria Romero
Gloria Romero, born Gloria Galla on December 16, 1933 to a Filipino father, Pedro Galla, and an American mother, Mary Borrego, is a Filipino actress appearing in film and television. Her career spans 60 years and includes award winning performances in the films Tanging Yaman (FAMAS Best Actress 2001), Nagbabagang Luha (FAMAS Best Supporting Actress 1989) and 1955's Dalagang Ilocana. She is the first recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the MTRCB. She attended school in Mabini, Pangasinan. Her brother was also an actor, Tito Galla. Gloria Galla married Juancho Gutierrez after they met during a movie; they had one child, a daughter, Maritess.
Marlene Dauden
Marlene Dauden is considered one of the greatest Filipina drama actresses of all time. She achieved her legendary status as a film thespian during her film career that spanned from the 1950s up to the 1970s. During the height of her fame, she was one of the most bankable stars of Sampaguita Pictures, which used to be one of the leading Philippine movie studios of the era. Marlene started out doing bit parts until she was cast in heavy supporting roles such as the black sheep sister of Paraluman in Anino ni Bathala in 1958 where she won her first the FAMAS Award.
Charito Solis
Charito Solis was born in Manila as Rosario Violeta Hernandez. She was a FAMAS and Gawad Urian award-winning Filipino film actress. Acknowledged as one of the leading dramatic actresses of post-war Philippine cinema, she was tagged either as the "Anna Magnani of the Philippines" or as "the Meryl Streep of the Philippines. Solis died on January 9, 1998 in Calamba City following a cardiac arrest.
Nida Blanca
Nida Blanca was born Dorothy Acueza Jones on January 6, 1936 in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija to an American soldier father and a Filipina mother. Nida starred in over 163 movies and 14 television shows and received over 16 awards for movies and six awards for television during her 50-year film career. She was named one of 15 Best Actress of all Time by YES magazine. On November 7, 2001, Blanca was found murdered, beaten and stabbed 13 times in the back seat of her Nissan Sentra in the parking lot of Atlanta Centre in Greenhills, San Juan where she worked for MTRCB. She was an active member of the Movies and Television Regulatory Classification Board (MTRCB) at the time of her death.
Zaldy Zhornack
Zaldy Zhornack. Born Jose Rizaldy Zshornack December 30, 1937, Zshornack had a long career spanning from the 1950s to the 1990s. He is perhaps best known for his role in Black Mama White Mama, a 1973 film. He is also one of the people who participated in the movie musical Pinoy Beatles in October 5, 1964.
Lolita Rodriguez
Lolita Rodriguez was born as Dolores Marquez Clark on January 29, 1935 to an American father William Charles Clark and a Filipino mother, Carmen Marquez in Urdaneta, Pangasinan. Lolita Rodriguez won her first FAMAS Award for Best Actress for her role in Gilda (1956). Her most enduring achievement was starring in Lino Brocka's 1974 drama, Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, winning the Best Actress FAMAS award for that year.
Rosa Rosal
Rosa Rosal was born on October 16, 1931 as Florence Lansang Danon. Her mother hailed from Santa Rita, Pampanga, while her father was of French and Egyptian descent She is a FAMAS award-winning actress dubbed as the "original femme fatale of Philippine cinema". She was named FAMAS Best Actress in 1955 for Sonny Boy, and would be nominated three other times, for Dagohoy (1953), Biyaya ng Lupa, and Ang Lahat ng Ito Pati na ang Langit (1989). She is also known for her work with the Philippine National Red Cross. For her humanitarian activities, she received the 1999 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service.
Pancho Magalona
Pancho Magalona was born Enrique Gayoso Magalona, Jr. in 1921 in the province of Negros Occidental and was the son of Philippine Senator Enrique B. Magalona, Sr. Pancho and his real life wife Tita Duran, appeared in numerous Sampaguita Pictures movies. Pancho and his wife were the most popular movie love team in the late 40s. He won the FAMAS Best Actor Award in 1958 for "Hanggang sa Dulo ng Daigdig" and is best remembered for playing the character Simon in the movie version of Jose Rizal's novel El Filibusterismo.


  1. IMDB
  2. Wikipedia/Wikipedia Commons
  3. History of Philippine Cinema (
  4. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons


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