Erlinda Cortez, one of the most popular prewar actresses, was born in 1925 in San Pablo, Laguna. Her real name was Mary Boone. Her mother was a Filipina and her father was a Belgian engineer named John Boone. During and after World War II, she worked as as radio station receptionist. She was also a member of a theatrical group that entertained troops during the war. She was an undercover agent working for the Civilian Intelligence Corps of the United States Army.
As an actress, she appeared in several films produced by LVN Pictures Inc. She starred in Tagumpay with Arsenia Francisco. In Prinsipeng Hindi Tumatawa, she was part of a cast that also included Rogelio de la Rosa, Mila del Sol, Elvira Reyes, Natividad Fernandez, Jaime Castellvi and Rey de Guzman.
In 1946, she again appeared opposite Rogelio de la Rosa in Backpay, adapted from a story written by Dona Aurora Quezon, wife of President Manuel Luis Quezon. The movie, partly processed in color was directed by Manuel Conde.
Erlinda Cortez later made a film in 1948 for Premiere Productions Inc. This was Itanong sa Bulaklak, directed by Paquito Bolero based on a poem written by Domingo Raymundo, a writer for Mithi, Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines who was always invited to recite his poems in town fiestas and balagtasan performances. Her co-stars in this film were Carlos Padilla, Sr., Efren Reyes, Naty Rubi, Florentino Ballecer, Mary Walter, Lily Miraflor, Dely Atay-Atayan, Chichay, Cesar Gallardo, Rene del Rosario, Vicente Ocampo and Larry Sanriago.
She also made films under different film outfits. In 1950, she starred in He Promised to Return with Robert Neil, an American actor as her leading man. In 1951, she was contracted by Lebran Films to star in Sigfredo with Manuel Conde and Elvira Reyes and Romeo at Julieta, based on William Shakespeare’s five act-play. Her leading man was Oscar Moreno.
Her filmography also included The End of the Road (1947), May Isang Tsuper ng Taksi, Tinig ng Tagumpay and Ang Bagong Maestra, all produced in 1953. made flicks. In Rosario Cantada, sheith co-starred with Rosa del Rosario and Lita Rio as three sisters with Ben Perez as their leading man.
In the mid-50s, she left and settled in Manhattan in the United States after she married Dr.Valentin Zetlin. They were blessed with a daughter, Minda.
She and her troupe of dancers were contracted to perform at the Tropicana Club in Cuba in 1957 under the banner Erlinda Cortes y Sus Perlas del Oriente. In Manhattan, she continued to present Filipino dances like the tinikling on such television programs hosted by Andy Williams, Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen.
An American magazine, The Weekly Nation, even printed an article in 1970 about the efforts of Erlinda Cortes to bring Pilipino culture and arts to foreign places. In 1964, she actually established the Philippine Theater Guild of New York which staged the play of Nick Joaquin, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, where she even played the lead role of Candida marasigan.
Though an established actress, she even enrolled under an acting class of Uta Hagen and got the chance to appear the Broadway play of Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as the female lead performer Martha.
She joined two theatrical groups—one in Cape Cod under Richard Waters and in Boston, the Om Theater Group. She was assistant producer of The Me Nobody Knows, a rock musical staged off Broadway. She again acted in The Respectful Prostitute and The Subject Was Roses, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Frank Gilroy. She was co-director in a protest stage play titled Riot.
In 1964, she and her husband, a psychiatrist by profession, attended the Maine National Training Laboratory workshop to further broaden her knowledge about entertainment arts.
But above all, her main concerns in life was being a mother to her daughter and a dutiful wife to her doctor husband.
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