We can't predict death–not even for some of our heroes. Whether they lived long and prosperous lives or left us far too soon, sometimes we still can’t help but ask ourselves, “What if?” Instead of continuing to wonder, we made some of our own predictions based on the remarkable lives of 10 truly unforgettable Latinos. Read on and see if you agree:
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Singer-songwriter Selena Quintanilla wasn’t just going places; she had arrived. She was the first Tejano ever to win a Grammy, and she remains one of the best selling artists of all time. Fans call her “The Queen of Tejano Music”, and she even had her very own boutique in Texas. Unfortunately, it was this same boutique that eventually led to Selena’s untimely death when the disgruntled former president of the boutique, Yolanda Saldivar, shot and killed the still-rising star.
The Governor of Texas at the time, George W. Bush, named April 16 “Selena Day." While there are well-documented accounts of her life, we can’t help but wonder about her future – the one she would have experienced if her life hadn’t been cut short. Since Selena was on the cusp of launching a wildly successful crossover career, we imagine her traveling the world over and serenading scores of fans with her stunning vocals. As for her boutique, we bet it would have expanded to feature more of her jaw-dropping designs.
Jenni Rivera is yet another Latina star robbed of her future. Rivera had a wildly successful career as a singer, actress and entrepreneur. She released a multitude of albums, and her tenth reached the number one spot atop the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. She starred in television shows like Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis & Raq-C and I Love Jenni, and she appeared in her first movie, Filly Brown, which was released just this year.
As we get closer to the one-year anniversary of her death, we wonder what she’d be doing today. We bet Rivera would be busy touring across the world, and we’re even more certain that we’d be in the front row singing our hearts out.
Though he died 20 years ago at the age of 66, Cesar Chavez continues to be one of the most well known Latinos. The people of Texas, California and Colorado even recognize Cesar Chavez day! During his life, Mexican American Chavez worked tirelessly for the rights of laborers, and he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association. He used peaceful, yet forceful tactics to propel his cause forward, and his methods worked. If Chavez was still around today, we think he’d continue to advocate for farmers and other groups that needed protection.
Lupe Ontiveros may have been an award-winning actress, but she wasn’t typically awarded the most glamorous roles. Fans of movies and television will easily recognize Ontiveros who had parts in Selena, Chuck and Buck, and Desperate Housewives. Ontiveros’ most common role, though, was as a maid, which she estimates to have played over 150 times. While never ashamed to represent the hardworking labor force, she advocated for a wider array of roles for Latinas onscreen. A former social worker, Ontiveros also worked to promote other causes hoping to help educate Latinos in the areas of scholarships and health, and if she was still alive today we think she’d continue to do the same!
Professional baseball player Roberto Clemente, though passed, is one Latino who will never be forgotten. The Puerto Rican was not only the first Latino to win a World Series as a starter and receive a World Series MVP, he was also the first Latino inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s not just his incredible athleticism that Clemente is remembered for, though. In his spare time the Pittsburgh Pirate performed charity work throughout Latin America. Clemente died in 1972 on his way to deliver goods to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when the plane he was in crashed. Had it not been for the accident, Clemente likely would have finished up an even more successful career (helping his team achieve a few more World Series wins!) and continued volunteering his time and talents.
“You got some ‘splainin’ to do!” If you don’t recognize this line, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Actor and musician Desi Arnaz was the leader of the Latin band the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, but he is most well-known for his role on I Love Lucy as Lucille Ball’s husband, Ricky Ricardo. Before the show aired, there were questions centered around how the American public would react to having the character of Lucy married to a thick-accented Latino, but the real-life couple pushed for the casting anyway. Never able to completely give up work, if Desi Arnaz was still alive today we think he would still be a player in the production industry, making guest appearances on television shows and continuously breaking barriers for Latinos.
While he didn’t live forever, Carlos Fuentes created masterpieces that will. Once called “Mexico’s most celebrated novelist”, Fuentes is responsible for bringing us works like The Death of Artemio Cruz, The Old Gringo and Christopher Unborn. This author is credited with helping popularize Latin American literature. Fuentes won Mexico’s most prestigious award, the Belisario Dominguez Medal of Honor along with a collection of other honors and awards. If Fuentes continued to write today, we believe he would finally win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In a genre typically dominated by men, singer Chavella Vargas made rancheras her own. Fans of the Costa Rica-born artist could always expect the unexpected. Vargas’ rough vocals earned her a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Though she lived a full life, we think that Vargas would still be crooning away to the delight of audiences everywhere if she were still alive today.
Hector “Macho” Camacho
Hector Camacho, known to most as Macho Camacho, was a celebrated boxer. During his prime, the Puerto Rican held major championships like super featherweight and lightweight, and he was the first boxer ever to be receive the title of septuple champion. Unfortunately, Camacho had some skeletons in his closet, but if he was still alive today we’d like to think he’d clean up his act and continue to pursue a career in television.
Puerto Rican Yomo Toro is still known today as one of the world’s best Cuatro players. In fact, he was even been dubbed “The King of Cuatro”, and rightfully so. The artist recorded over 150 albums in his lifetime and worked at length with other musical legends. If he was still alive today, something tells us Toro would be working toward recording his next 150 albums!