Torremolinos - Famous faces in the 1950's


by Tony Bryant

The arrival of the tourist boom in the late 1950s really pinned Torremolinos on the map. The town became known for its liberal attitude and bohemian lifestyle, which quickly gained the attention of wealthy Americans who came to check out the new 'Saint Tropez'. Famous celebrities also began to visit and the names of a string of Hollywood stars would become etched into the history of the town.

Rita Hayworth, who's family originate from the small village of Arahal, in the province of Seville, Ava Gardener, Grace Kelly, Bridget Bardot, Marlon Brando,  Dirk Bogarde and Orson Wells are just a few of the famous stars who visited the town during 1950s and '60s.


Frank Sinatra put the Hotel Pez Espada on the map after he was involved in a fracas while staying there during the filming of Von Ryan's Express. The incident involved a Spanish photographer and the Cuban b-movie actress called Cañibano Ondina.

The most prevalent version claims that the Cuban actress spotted Sinatra sat at the bar and attempted to sit on his lap. Sinatra objected and pushed the actress away, but she slapped Sinatra's face in retaliation and the situation turned ugly. The incident was quickly resolved so not to cause a disturbance to the other guests.  

Another version has Sinatra being interviewed and photographed by a local reporter when Ondina happens to come along and requests a photo. Sinatra wrongly (or rightly) thinks he is being set up and pushes the photographer. A scuffle breaks out and the camera falls and breaks on the floor. Mode detailed account can be read on Hotel Pez Espada history.

Either way the photographer phoned the police and after a day's delay, the police arrived and arrested Sinatra on charges of public disorder, for which he was fined 25,000 pesetas. After paying the fine, Sinatra flew to Paris, swearing never to return to Spain.


Hollywood heartthrob, Anthony Quinn, also left his mark on the Pez Espada hotel whilst staying there during the filming of The Lost Command. On one occasion, the actor, a competent saxophonist, got up on stage with the house orchestra and entertained the guests with his exceptional musical skills.

Continued....... Famous Faces of Torremolinos in the 1960's


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