Surprisingly, she only made one theatrical-release movie, and I saw it in the theatre. Oh, she’s barely in it, and I won’t be watching it again any time soon given its star, but there it is. She’s in Don Juan DeMarco. She’s not even a named character, but she’s there, and it’s her one and only theatrical appearance. Hard to say if she would’ve made more had she lived; I don’t know if she was even interested. But since she was just shy of her twenty-fourth birthday when she was killed, what she wanted at that time might not have been what she wanted when she was forty. Or fifty-one, as she would be now.
Selena Quintanilla was born in Lake Jackson, Texas. Heck, her father was born in Corpus Christi. Selena didn’t speak Spanish until adulthood, but she pretty much exclusively recorded songs written in it. That’s okay; there are plenty of people who sing in languages they don’t speak, and goodness knows her failure to speak Spanish didn’t hurt her with her audience. She was an enormously successful singing star in Tejano music. Possibly no one yet has sold more Spanish-language recordings; she was so popular that People en Español exists because the Spanish-language People memorial issue about her death went into so many printings.
Further, we basically have Jennifer Lopez’s entire career because of her. Selena’s fans were initially hesitant at the casting, as Lopez is Puerto Rican and Selena was mostly Mexican with some Cherokee. However, it’s generally agreed that Lopez was really outstanding in the role. Salma Hayek had turned down the role, for several reasons. (Too soon, for starters.) Further, Selena Gomez—currently doing a spectacular job in Only Murders in the Building—was named after her, which means I don’t even have to look up if she’s too young for the column, given I was in high school when Selena died.
Was murdered. By the president of her own fan club. Now, exactly what was going on there, I don’t know enough to say. Certainly she was skimming from Selena’s businesses. It also seems possible she is mentally unwell and that the murder was in part one of those situations where an obsessed fan had a breakdown that involved shooting the object of said obsession. There was a shrine, it seems. So, you know, there’s that little detail. Embezzlement and a shrine means that motives are complicated and may not involve a single cause.
And in fact that is not even the wildest detail about Selena. Lake Jackson is in the Houston metropolitan region. One branch of her mother’s doctor’s family had actually been in the US for about as long as her father’s—possibly even a shorter time, though the ancestral family there was from Germany. So her mother’s doctor ended up going into politics after a while. Among other things, he ran for President as a Libertarian in 1988. Then as a Republican in 2008 and 2012. His son ran for President in 2016 and is still in Congress, alas. His son’s actually a doctor, too, but an ophthamologist and not an ob-gyn. That’s right—Selena was delivered by Ron Paul!