Mariana Levy Fernández (April 22, 1966 – April 29, 2005) was a Mexican telenovela actress, singer and television show host. She was the daughter of Talina Fernández, who is considered by many to have been the pioneer of television shows like the ones that Silvia Pinal currently does on Mexican television.
Mariana Levy was born in Mexico City. She lived the childhood of a celebrity's daughter, as she met many famous people when she was small, thanks to her mother's position as one of Mexico's top show hosts of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Levy demonstrated a great desire to become an actress from an early age, and, by the time she turned sixteen in 1982, she participated in her first Televisa soap opera, Vivir Enamorada ("Living in Love"), where she played "Verónica".
Levi took 1983 off, then returned to the small screen in 1984, in a major Televisa hit, Los Años Felices ("The Happy Years"). In Los Años Felices, she played the role of "Nancy".
Her next telenovela bombed on the television ratings in comparison to Los Años Felices; 1986's Martín Garatuza, where she played "Beatriz", was not a significant hit.
The opposite can be said of her next work, as "Linda", in 1987's Rosa Salvaje ("Wild Rosa"). Rosa Salvaje, about a girl named Rosa who falls in love with a millionaire man but was not accepted by his family because she was extremely poor, became a major hit all over Latin America, Europe and Asia, and Mariana Levy became known in places like Spain, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Argentina, Russia and other countries. In Rosa Salvaje, she acted alongside Verónica Castro and Guillermo Capetillo, among others.
She participated in 1988's Lo Blanco y Lo Negro ("What's White and What's Black"), alongside Rafael Sanchez Navarro among others, as "Alma de Castro". She took off the rest of the 1980s, but, in 1990. she returned to television with the task of playing three characters in the same soap opera; playing "Ángela", "Gimena" and "Estrella" in Yo Compro esa Mujer ("I'll buy That Woman").
By the time she participated in En Carne Propia ("Your Own Skin"), also in 1990, she had already met the famous actor and dance teacher, Ariel López Padilla. It had been long rumored among fans that López Padilla was homosexual, but he had been romantically involved with Levy. In 1994, Levy and Lopez Padilla worked together again in the telenovela Caminos Cruzados, where both of them played the lead. It was during this production that they finally got together for good. The pair got married soon after that in front of millions of TV viewers, as they said their vows in the popuplar talk show "Cristina", conducted by the famous talk-show host Cristina Saralegui. The couple had one daughter, Maria, as the result of their marriage. But their marriage ended up in a bad divorce, with Levy actually telling gossip magazines that López Padilla was, after all, gay. While Levy was given custody of her daughter, her story about López Padilla being gay soon became moot because he was accused by a female dance student of his of raping her. He was found not guilty.
Before taking off three years for her marriage, she participated in another major Mexican soap opera hit, 1991's La Pícara Soñadora ("The Flirting Dreamer"), where she played "Lupita".
In 1994, she made her first, and ultimately also her last, film, when she acted in Amorosos Fantasmas, which was named "Phantoms in Love" for its English-language VCR release.
During the rest of her acting career, she acted in nine telenovelas, most of them which were not notable. One exception was perhaps 1997's Leonela, where she starred as "Leonela Ferrari". She re-married a man named José María Fernández, who happens to be the half brother of Chantal Andere, another Mexican acting legend. In 2003, Mariana Levy joined her mother, Talina Fernández, as cohost of her televised variety show, Nuestra Casa ("Our House"), and also participated in her final telenovela, the hugely successful Amor Real. This production was set in the mid 19th century, and in one of her most memorable characters ever, Mariana played an ugly-duckling-turned-to-swan character, Josefina. She retired a year later to give birth to her son, José Emilio. Levy and José have a daughter, Paula (born early 2002) and José Emilio (born summer 2004).
Mexico City police, based on witness testimonies, have given many different theories about Levy's death. It is known for sure that she suffered a heart attack while stopped at a red light in the Mexico City neighborhood of Lomas de Chapultepec. However, the question so far is exactly what caused her death: Some witnesses said that she had her heart attack while a gunman was pointing a revolver at her to steal her car; others simply said that she became scared, due to the recent incidents in which many Mexican entertainers or their families have been kidnapped for money, when she saw a large man approaching her car. According to the later version, she ordered her husband to close the car's windows, but began to have the heart attack when she felt chest pains and shortness of breath soon after. It is also of general confusion, where exactly was she headed when this happened: some say her husband had been hurt on his foot and she was driving him to a hospital; others say she was actually driving across town to a theme park (Six Flags México), where she and her family were to meet with some friends for a family day. Nevertheless, paramedics tried to resuscitate Mariana Levy in vain on the heart attack's scene. She was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she was declared dead at 13:30 local time (UTC –5) on April 29, 2005. The police did arrest a group of individuals that were being investigated in connection with some car theft crimes and who happened to be on the scene of Levy's death.
Her mother, Talina Fernández, was in a studio about to tape a show when she received the news of her daughter's death.
Mariana Levy died just seven days after celebrating her 39th birthday.
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