Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Odalys (Garcia)!

The first picture I ever saw of Odalys

5 years old

All grown up

Lente Loco


A big one!

Once again we have made another successful orbit around our primary star, and so this morning offer birthday wishes for one of my favorite people, entertainers, singers, and actresses, Ms. Odalys Garcia.
The lovely Ms. Odalys was born in Cuba, the most populous of the Caribbean nations, and a country the United States has been at odds with ever since Fidel Castro successfully overthrew the corrupt Batista government in 1959 (which we helped perpetrate with an arms embargo), way before Odalys was born. The United States was upset because Fidel nationalized most of the private businesses and property with little or no compensation, about of which 1 billion 1959 U.S. dollars were effectively confiscated. Fidel also threw out the mafia which ran a profitable gaming business in Cuba. Accordingly, the CIA and mafia conspired to have Fidel killed in 1960 and 1961, which didn't work out, so the United States trained a whole bunch of Cuban exiles and provided military support for an invasion in 1961 to overthrow Castro which failed in 3 days. This further enraged the United States because we're so powerful and all, and used to getting our own way, and of course having a communist country so close to Florida, well it just wasn't right, we Americans hating communism so much. It was quite an insult to our prestige (and was a very real threat to our national security, for the entire planet's security for that matter, considering the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962).
In any case trade with Cuba has been banned since these disturbances, and emigration to the U.S., or anywhere else restricted. Still, tensions have eased of late, and hopefully more normalized relations with Cuba and the U.S. can soon transpire. But enough of these national history lessons. As I was saying, Odalys was born in Cuba, Havana specifically, and was in no way responsible for the revolution or the missile crisis. I want to make that absolutely clear! However she was interested in becoming a dancer, specifically a ballerina, like our friend Dawn Wells (it must be a girl thing, this ballerina obsession), and began participating in dance demonstrations by the age of 5 (picture above. Like my lovely case manager, Erin at yoga, Odalys appeared to be quite... flexible). At nine, she was admitted to the prestigious Escuela Provincial de Ballet de Alicia Alonso (ballet school) where she continued for four years.
At the age of 13 she swam over 90.5 miles to the United States... quite an impressive feat for a girl that young (no doubt all of that ballet training was beneficial), and began modeling in Miami as she was very pretty... for a girl, a circumstances that exists to this day. She was soon noticed by producers from the Spanish language television station, Univision, which we're familiar with, dear readers, from our friend Jackie Guerrido, and was cast as a model on "Noche de Gigantes" (Night of the Giants) for two years, and soon became very popular with Hispanic audiences.
She was chosen to host "De Pelicula" (Of Film), a Saturday afternoon movies show, but it was in 1993 when she got her big break and was chosen to co-host a Spanish version of Candid Camera, in the prime time show "Lente Loco," (Crazy Lens), with Raymond Arrieta, some of which can be seen here:
The show became a big hit, and Odalys' fame sky rocketed (now I'm not saying her penchant for short skirts and low cut blouses had anything to do with the show's success. As a matter of fact that type of dress for attractive young women seems to be the standard for nighttime Hispanic television. However, I at one time was a regular viewer of Lente Loco even though I understand very little Spanish, and do not recall ever seeing Odalys dressed in pants. I'm sure her charming, vibrant, charismatic and dynamic personality had a great deal more to with her, and the show's appeal, at least that's why I watched it).
Men are bizarre creatures and react viscerally to the physicality and appearance of the opposite sex. Women know this and take advantage of our helplessness. I first became aware of Ms. Garcia with a few pictures I found in a magazine I got from the library in Camarillo, California, where I lived at the time, in the late 1990s (indicated picture above). I said to myself, "Wow! Who's this?!" And have been a fan ever since. As Erin said to me recently, "Men are easy."
Anyway I began watching the show and like hundreds of thousands of others was thoroughly charmed by Odalys. The little Candid Camera bits were okay to, but it was only Odalys I was there to see.
With her success she was able to do many more things. She began producing what are called "Calendarios," which I'm pretty sure means calendars in English (picture above). I bought them all. I became a member of her Fan Club and received a video tape of her making the calendarios. I also got a personally autographed picture of her which proclaimed I was her "Number 1 Fan." Number 1! Out of all of her fans I was number 1. Quite an honer I assure you.
Unfortunately for some unknown reason she has discontinued the production of said calendarios, and has in fact stopped making them for some time now. This has made me very sad, but I will get by. I'm sure her decision was what was right for her, which is the most important thing I suppose, despite the misery it has caused the multitude of devoted fans.
I believe it was in 2002 that I heard Odalys had been involved in a car accident right here in Los Angeles, and I became immediately concerned. I wrote to her again through her Fan Club and was rewarded with a hand written response (in English) which I have to this day. In it she thanks me for my concern, explained that her back hurt her a little at times, and that she was happy her fans cared for her so much.
She's a very nice lady. She and I are now linked through the magic of Facebook.
Anyway, among Odalys' many other accomplishments she was spokesperson for Bally Total Fitness for three years, and the spokesperson for Columbia House's Club Musica Latina (because of which I am a member). She was also the public face for Toma Leche, a Got Milk campaign aimed at raising awareness of the health benefits of drinking milk, of which I wholeheartedly support 100%! She also had the opportunity to act in the continuing serial TV show "Morelia," and had her own morning radio show while living in Miami.
Odalys is also an executive producer and singer, getting help from the late singer Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla with her first CD, "Ven a Ver," in 2002, and a second in 2006. She has sung at major festivals in the United States and throughout Latin America.
And now Odalys lives right here in Los Angeles where it's safe (except for cars), and according to the IMDB: "In 2008 she joined playwright Rich Najera’s nationally recognized stage production Latinologues T2U, a collection of comedic and poignant monologues about Latino life in America. Odalys sparkled in her portrayal of Cuba Libre, a lady of the night, desperate to leave the island behind for a life of freedom in The US.
In 2009, after two years at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles, Odalys finished her first feature film IJE- The Journey. She plays Carolina, a devoted illegal immigrant single mother, who witnesses a crime and struggles to become untangled for fear of deportation."
She continues to devote her time toward furthering her acting career, travel around the world (pictures above), has dedicated herself to public service including telethons in Honduras and El Salvador, and as spokesperson for Southern California City of Hope’s Caminos al Exito, where she promoted the importance of regular doctor visits for the prevention and detection of major illnesses, such as cancer, which I also wholeheartedly support. All in all Odalys Garcia is remarkable and beautiful young woman. Why I'd be after her myself if she were just a couple of years younger (that's a joke Odalys... please don't hurt me).
And all of us here at Joyce's Take wish her continued success, good fortune and health, and a very happy birthday.
Happy Birthday Odalys!

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