The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

In 1957, the picture, called " The Kiss of Death "("Il Bacio della Morte"), flew around the world. In the photo, actress Linda Christian, the mother of singer Romina Power, kisses aristocrat and athlete Alfonso de Portago, sitting at the wheel of a race car. Why did this photo get such a tragic name?

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

Linda Christian was born in Mexico in 1923, the daughter of a Dutch engineer and a Mexican woman. Her real name is Blanca Rosa Welter, and Linda beauty became, starting the conquest of Hollywood. While still in high school, she wanted to become a doctor, but met the actor Errol Flynn and he convinced Blanca that she would succeed in films.

In 1943, the girl starred in her first Mexican film under the pseudonym Linda Welter. Then there were several more successful works in the cinema at home, but the young actress got into the taste and already saw herself as a world-class star. Soon she moved to California and became the Linda Christian that everyone knows.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

In 1944, Linda Christian made her Hollywood debut, starring in the MGM studio film Louis B. Mayer. But Linda was not destined to become a legend of world cinema. Of her successes on the screen, it is possible to note the film "Tarzan and the Mermaids", released in 1948, and the role of the girl agent 007 James Bond in the very first film adaptation of" Casino Royale "in 1957, which was not included in the official"bond".

On the personal front, Linda was also not very successful. In 1949, she married actor Tyrone Power, giving birth to two daughters, including Romina Power, a future Italian pop star. Tyrone did not differ in marital fidelity, so after a few years filled with scandals and resentments, the offended wife had an affair with the British actor Edmund Purdom. In 1956, the family of Linda and Tyrone finally broke up.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

A few months after the divorce, Linda Christian met the Spanish aristocrat Alfonso de Portago. The full name of the hereditary nobleman was: Alfonso Antonio Vicente Eduardo Angel Blas Francisco de Borja Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, 11th Marquis of Portago, 13th Count de la Mejorada, Grandee of Spain. But Alfonso was not born in a medieval Castilian castle, but in London, and from childhood he adored technology.

One of the European newspapers described de Portago as "a man who can do anything." In fact, he was a surprisingly active and courageous man, who succeeded in many of his endeavors. He became the first Spanish Formula 1 champion, and in addition was fond of horse racing, wrestling, boxing, swimming, alpine skiing, bobsleigh, sword fencing.

Alfonso de Portago was also a great pilot and made history with a crazy stunt, flying a $ 500 bet on a single-engine plane under a bridge. The reckless athlete at that time was only 17 years old! Portago became the French amateur equestrian champion, and in 1956 he led the Spanish Olympic bobsleigh team. In 1957, the athlete won a bronze medal at the World Bobsleigh Championships.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

Alfonso de Portago came to motorsport in 1953, knowing absolutely nothing about car racing. It all started with the International Auto Show in New York, where the Spaniard met Luigi Chinetti-an entrepreneur who supplies Ferrari cars to the United States. Portago wrote about his first race like this:

De Portago bought a Ferrari from Chinetti and, at the invitation of one of his friends, Harry Schell, took part in the "1000 km of Buenos Aires"race. Schell knew about his friend's lack of racing experience, so he took him into the crew as a navigator, and he got behind the wheel.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

In this prestigious race, the tandem of Schell and de Portago took second place, and the Spanish extreme realized that racing is his vocation. A year later, in 1954, Alfonso participated in the prestigious European competition "24 Hours of Le Mans", and in 1956 he was so authoritative in the world of motorsport that he headed the Scuderia Ferrari team.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

Alfonso becomes the second in the Venezuelan Grand Prix, wins the Nassau Governor's Cup and in 1956 for the first time takes part in official Formula 1 races at the French Grand Prix. At the end of the 1956 season, he was classified as the 15th driver in the world ranking, which is incredible for an athlete who first got into the cockpit of a car a couple of years ago.

For de Portago, the year 1957 began splendidly – he finished fifth in the Argentine Grand Prix, became the race leader in Montlery and got third place in the "1000 kilometers of Buenos Aires" and the Grand Prix of Cuba. The athlete did not forget about bobsleigh - in February, as part of the Spanish national team at the World Championships, he won a bronze medal in the doubles.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

De Portago was young, handsome, rich, intelligent, and very popular with women. His simple manner, combined with the actions of a true gentleman, invariably impressed the beauties of all walks of life. At the same time, Alfonso dressed very simply and behaved like an ordinary guy from the suburbs of Madrid. Famous racing driver Phil Hill described it like this:

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

It is said that de Portago believed that nothing terrible would ever happen to him, no matter how much he risked. He was seriously going to live to be 100 years old and was full of plans for the future. But it all ended on May 12, 1957, when the athlete took part in the Italian race Mille Miglia "Thousand Miles".

Alfonso was very reluctant to participate in this race, but Enzo Ferrari insisted on it. De Portago went to the competition together with his beloved – Linda Christian, an affair with whom lasted for a year. The check-in was very ordinary and nothing foreshadowed trouble. After 900 miles, the car of de Portago and his co-driver Eddie Nelson was fourth when it was damaged.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

It was decided not to interrupt the race and the mechanics hastily put the equipment in order. After the repair, Alfonso stepped on the gas to catch up, but after 50 meters he saw Linda at the track and slowed down next to her. The couple embraced and kissed passionately, after which the car again rushed forward.

A few minutes later, with only 25 miles to go, at the village of Guidizollo, de Portago and Nelson's car burst a tire and flew off the road at high speed into the crowd of spectators. De Portago, Nelson and 11 spectators, including 5 children, were killed in a bloody roadside meat grinder.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

The terrible tragedy at the Mille Miglia led to this race being banned. And what about the beautiful Linda Christian? She did not grieve for Alfonso for long, and soon found a new lover. This woman became famous for her love of bullfighters and rich businessmen, but she could not get married successfully.

In the early 1960s, Linda got together with her first love – the beautiful but poor Edmund Perdom, but the couple lived together for only a year. Her film career wasn't going well either – Christian only got supporting roles in Hollywood. Because of this, she had to return to Mexico and start acting in "soap operas", which allowed her to somehow make ends meet.

The Kiss of Death, or The story of one photo taken minutes before the tragedy

The last time on the screen, Linda Christian appeared in 1988, after which she decided to retire. The fatal beauty died of cancer in 2011.

Keywords: Formula 1 | Sports | Accident | Spain | Celebrities | Hollywood | Race | Tragedy | Star | Aristocracy

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