In 1955, the three biggest movie productions at that time, Sampaguita Pictures, LVN Pictures, and Premiere Productions, threw their doors open to the public in an event they called “Trip To Movieland” day.
Among those who took the opportunity to visit the studios were 15-year-old, 4th-year high school student Amalia Amador Muhlach, chaperoned by her mother Concepcion Amador Fuentes.
While inside the Sampaguita Studios, Amalia was separated from her mother.
She became frantic and was crying. Her cries attracted three Sampaguita employees—Joe Tabirara, the studio timekeeper; Joseph Straight, chief of the sound department; and Nestor Robles, musical director.
The three approached her, calmed her down, and asked her if she wants to appear in movies.
“I thought they were wolves. But they were insistent in taking my pictures so I posed for laughs,” related Amalia to journalist and broadcaster Jose A. Quirino in her October 25, 1958 interview in Philippine Free Press magazine.
Her photos were later shown to Sampaguita Pictures boss Dr. Jose “Doc” Perez who commented, “This girl looks like Elizabeth Taylor. Get her at once.”
The studio had a hard time convincing her to screen test for the role of the fairy in the movie Prince Charming. She was not interested in becoming an actress. She was supposed to go to the States after her high school graduation where a scholarship was waiting for her. What she really wanted was to become a flight stewardess.
But after winning Sampaguita’s popularity search Mr. and Miss Number One together with newcomer Juancho Gutierrez, Amalia’s rise to stardom was inevitable. Sampaguita’s gimmick of letting fans choose their new screen idols worked. The public wanted more of Mr. Number One and Miss Number One.
After four movies, their proper screen names were finally revealed in the film Rodora (1956). Mr. Number One was Juancho Gutierrez and Miss Number One was Amalia Fuentes.
Amalia used her pastor stepfather’s last name instead of her real surname Muhlach.
More than five decades and over a hundred films later, Amalia has become a legend and an icon. Often referred to as “The Elizabeth Taylor of the Philippines,” Philippine Cinema is grateful for her contributions as an actress, producer, writer, and director.
Video Producer: Rommel Llanes
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