Stars '66: 45 years ago
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - February 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Before the Regal Babies, ABS-CBN’s Star Circle and GMA’s StarStruck, there was Stars ’66 launched by the Original Starmaker Dr. Jose “Doc” Perez of Sampaguita Pictures 45 years ago. They were (at random): Gina Pareño, Rosemarie, Loretta Marquez, Blanca Gomez and Shirley Moreno; and Dindo Fernando, Pepito Rodriguez, Ramil Rodriguez, Edgar Salcedo and Bert Leroy Jr.

They were formally launched at a glittering affair called An Evening to Remember at the sprawling Vera-Perez Garden on Dec. 5, 1965 (noted Funfare’s “other beauty expert” Celso de Guzman Caparas), with then First Lady Imelda Marcos as guest of honor.

The 10 had previously appeared in all-star-cast movies and as Stars ’66 they did only two, Maraming Kulay ang Pagibig (shown in March, 1966) and Jamboree ’66. The former was made up of five episodes: Panibugho (Rosemarie and Pepito), Pagsisisi (Blanca and Bert), Pagkainggit (Gina and Edgar), Pagpapasakit (Loretta and Dindo) and Pag-asa (Shirley and Ramil).

So whatever happened to the Stars ’66 after 45 years?

Here are thumbnail sketches courtesy of Celso:

Rosemarie (real name: Rosemarie Levy Sonora). She joined showbiz at the age of five via Apat na Taga (1953) and had her first starring role as a child actress in Ulilang Anghel (1958, she was billed as Rose Marie). Other movies as a child star: Inang Mahal (1956), Alaalang Banal (1958) and Alipin ng Palad (1959); she became a full-pledged actress in Ang Hiwaga Ni Mariang Isda (1962, opposite Rodolfo Cristobal); title roles in Dolly Sisters (1964, with Susan Roces), Birhen Sa Lupa (1965), Mga Reynang Engkantada (1965, also with Susan), Magic Bilao (1965), Inday, Palalayasin Kita (1965), Rosalie (1965), Juanita Banana (1968) and Baluga (1969). Her acting awards include First Quezon City Film Festival Best Supporting Actress (1970, For You Mama) and EMEE Award Most Effective Performer (1972 for Oh, Rosemarie). She was nominated for FAMAS Best Actress for Cadena de Amor (1971) and Manila Connection (1974). On May 24, 1966, Rosemarie was crowned as Reyna ng Pelikulang Pilipino. Rosemarie married Ricky Belmonte by whom she has three children. She’s now based in California with her American husband.

Pepito Rodriguez (real name: Jose Maria “Lito” Morena Rodriguez). His first movie was Siyam na Langit (1962), introduced in Abaruray, Abarinding (1963), became a full-pledged star in Mga Batang Iskuwater (1964) and first title role was Danny Boy (1969). He was proclaimed as 1965 Prinsipe ng Pelikulang Pilipino and won as Best Supporting Actor for Stop Look Listen in the 4th Manila Film Festival in 1969.

(As a love team, Rosemarie and Pepito starred in some memorable movies such as Rosalie [1965, Rosemarie in dual/title role], The Dolly Sisters [1964, with Susan Roces and Ramil Rodriguez], Mga Reynang Engkantada [1965, with Susan and Ramil], Inday, Palalayasin Kita! [1965], Papa Um Mamaw! [1965], O!..Kay Laking Eskandalo! [1966, with Gina Pareño and Edgar Salcedo], Maghapong Walang Araw [1966, with Marlene Dauden and Ric Rodrigo], Ang Lagay ‘Adre…Ay Under-Istanding! [1966], Ay! Ay! Naku Neneng [1966], Double Date [1967, with Susan Roces and Ramil Rodriguez], Bahay Kubo, Kahit Munti [1968, with Blanca Gomez and Edgar Salcedo], Baluga [1969] and Danny Boy [1969]. They hosted the Rosemarie-Pepito Show.)

Gina Pareño (real name: Geraldine “Gingging” Pareño Acthley). She introduced in Sabina (1963) and became a full-pledged star in Eddie Long Legs (1964, opposite Eddie Gutierrez). Her first acting award was the 9th Manila Film Festival Best Actress (1974 for Krimen…Kayo Ang Humatol) and FAMAS Best Actress was for Elizabeth (1968). Gina’s stars shone brightly in the late 2000s when her body of work was recognized locally and internationally: Best Actress winner for Kubrador (2006 Gawad Urian, 2006 Osians Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema, New Delhi, India; 2007 Amiens International Film Festival and 2007 Brussels International Independent Film Festival); Best Actress nominee for Serbis (2008 Cannes Film Festival), Best Actress winner for Serbis (at the Pacific Meridian International Film Festival of Asian-Pacific Countries, Vladivostok, Russia) and 2006 Best Supporting Actress winner for Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo (32nd Metro Manila Film Festival and FAMAS). Gina was bestowed the 23rd PMPC Star Award for TV’s Best Drama Actress in 2009 for Tayong Dalawa.

Bert Leroy Jr. (real name: Albert “Abet” LeRoy). His first movie was Pitong Kalbaryo Ni Inang (1962), introduced in Tugtuging Bukid (1962) and first starring role was in Detektib Kalog (1963). He was nominated as FAMAS Best Supporting Actor for Bakit Pa Ako Isinilang? (1966). He’s based in the US with his wife and children.

(Among the movies of Gina and Bert as love team were Apat na Kagandahan [1965], Eskuwelahang Munti [1965], Mama! [1966], Deborah [1968, Gina in the title role] and Donata [1968, with Lolita Rodriguez in the title role].)

Blanca Gomez (real name: Blanca Carrallero Gomez). She was introduced in Mga Anak sa Pagkakasala (1962, directed by Eddie Garcia) in which she played Marites, a role originally intended for Josephine Estrada who quit to compete in the 1962 Miss Universe pageant. Other movies: Siyam Na Langit (1962), Ikaw At Ikaw Rin (1963, FAMAS Best Supporting Actress nominee), Ang Class Reunion (1963), Kumander Judo (1964, first starring role), Mga Espada ng Rubitanya (1965), Pinoy A Go-Go (1966), Hanggang Doon Kay Bathala (1966), Paano Kita Lilimutin (1966), Let’s Dance The Soul (1967) and Kamatayan Ko Ang Ibigin Ka (1968). Blanca won as Movie Starlet of 1966 sponsored by The Weekly Graphic. Her first marriage, to basketball player Danny Picache, failed. She’s based in the US with her second husband and their children.

Dindo Fernando (real name: Jose Tacorda Chua Surban). His memorable movies include Bulung-Bulungan (1962), Apat Na Anak Ni David (1963), Sa Bawa’t Lansangan (1963), Dance-O-Rama (1963), Historia de un Amor (1963), Iginuhit Ng Tadhana (1965) and Paalam Sa Kahapon (1965). He won as URIAN Best Actor for Ikaw…at ang Gabi, 1979). He has a string of acting nominations: FAMAS Best Actor for Paalam sa Kahapon (1965), Psycho Maniac (1968), Ang Uliran (1971), Panic (1973), May Langit Ang Bawat Nilikha (1976), Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan? (1982), Muling Buksan Ang Puso (1985); and FAMAS Best Supporting Actor for Liku-likong Landas (1968), Baby Tsina (1985) and Magdusa Ka (1986). He was an URIAN nominee for Best Actor (Langis at Tubig, 1981) and Best Supporting Actor (Inay, 1978 and Baby Tsina, 1985). Dindo was 47 when he died of heart attack in 1987, the same year he lost in the election when he ran for Mayor of Marikina.

Loretta Marquez (real name: Judith “Baby” Flordeliza King). She was introduced in Diegong Tabak (1962), and played title roles in Morena Martir (1965) and Ang Maganda Kong Labandera (1967). Her last movie was Pasan Ko ang Daigdig (with Sharon Cuneta). She became a faith healer. She died of a weak heart at 50 in 1996.

Edgar Salcedo. The son of Leopoldo Salcedo, known as The Great Profile, Edgar was introduced in Mga Batang Iskuwater (1964). Other movies: Dugo Ng Vampira (1964), Magnificent Bakya (1965), Mga Espada Ng Rubitanya (1965) and Pitong Krus Ng Isang Ina (1968). Like Loretta and Dindo, Edgar died young.

(Loretta and Edgar were screen partners in Gintong Recuerdo [1965, topbilled by Carmen Rosales], Apat Na Kagandahan [1965], Let’s Dance The Soul [1967], among others.)

Shirley Moreno. She was discovered in 1963 by Eddie Garcia while he was filming Balisong 29. After a screen test, she reported to the set of Dance-O-Rama and was signed up as a contract star of Sampaguita Pictures. Among her movies were Tansan vs. Tarzan (1963), Binibiro Lang Kita (1964), Portrait Of My Love (1965), Bye-Bye Na Sa Daddy (1965) and I’ll Dream of You (1966). She won as Reyna ng Pelikulang Pilipino 1967 (sponsored by Bulaklak magazine).

Ramil Rodriguez (real name: Rene Morena Rodriguez). He was introduced in Leron, Leron Sinta (1964) and became a full-pledged actor in Kulay Rosas Ang Pag-ibig (1968, opposite Susan Roces). In 1966, he was proclaimed as Prinsipe ng Pelikulang Pilipino (sponsored by Bulaklak magazine). He still appears in movies every now and then, playing father to young actors.

(Shirley and Ramil appeared together in Bye-Bye Na Sa Daddy [1965], Gintong Recuerdo [1965] and Ang Lagay ‘Adre…Ay Under-Istanding! [1966].)

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