In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month NEW LATINA will feature five amazing of Latinas of the past and present, each week. We are proud to kick off our Hispanic Heritage Month series with the fabulous voices, faces and minds of Latin music!
Monica Boyar (1920), born Argentina Mercedes, in Santiago de los Caballeros, Domincan Republic was a nightclub singer, actress, clothing designer and one of the first notable Dominican pop culture figures in the United States. Nicknamed the “satin Latin song stylist”, Monica Boyar’s began singing professionally as a young adult, singing with a choral group at the Metropolitan Opera House, and receiving an annual dramatic award for her role as Miriam in Maxwell Anderson’s Winterset. Monica Boyer is credited with introducing the United States to merengue at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, a dance that was initially met some resistance, but later became the fastest growing dance craze during the 1950’s. Similarly, Monica Boyar introduced the U.S. to calypso music, which became one of the bestselling genre’s of the 1950’s.
Monica Boyar could sing in seven languages and four dialects, and was internationally recognized as she performed in Mexico City, Mexico; Havana, Cuba; the Netherlands, and Monaco, to name only a few places. She appeared in several film and television features, including the 1945 film Princess Papaya, and the television show Mister Peepers, in 1952. Monica Boyar was also a fashion designer for stage and movie stars. In her personal life, Monica Boyar married twice, her last marriage being to actor and comedian, Leslie Nielsen. Their marriage lasted five years.
Monica Boyar is still alive today and resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. At 91 years old, Monica Boyar shares insight regarding her career, name change and cultural impact, in a phone interview with historian Américo Méjia, as can be seen in the video provided below: