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MONICA BOYAR Monica Boyar, a Las Vegas resident and former nightclub singer and actress, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2013, at the age of 92. The cause was complications from a stroke, according to long-time friend, Fred Vickers. Born Argentina Mercedes Maria Gonzalez Morel Valerio Urena, in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Ms. Boyar won a career-launching vaudeville singing contest at age 15 in New York City, wearing to the contest a dress her mother made by hand. She was "green, wide-eyed and skinny," as she recalled in an as-yet-unpublished autobiography making her first professional stage appearance at La Conga Club in New York City, where she performed songs orchestrated by club bandleader Desi Arnaz. Dubbed the "Satin Latin" in the New York press, Ms. Boyar sang in seven languages and four dialects and was one of the first to introduce calypso to U.S. audiences, helping popularize this form of music. During the 1939 New York World's Fair, Ms. Boyar created a sensation debuting for an American audience her native country's dance, the merengue. Ms. Boyar was one of the first women of Hispanic descent cast as a major dramatic lead on Broadway, originating the role of Rosa Gonzalez in Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke. Years later, she cherished the memory of Williams' having given her a scarf decorated with autumn leaves after the play's opening night curtain on Oct. 6, 1948. Ms. Boyar appeared in a number of other stage productions, as well as in several films and television features and performed as a singer internationally. A former art student, she also designed clothing for fellow stage and film actors. Ms. Boyar immigrated with her family to the United States at age six, yet maintained strong contacts with the Dominican Republic. Due to personal convictions and family history - her Godfather Rafael Estrella Urena was provisional president of the country until forced out by dictator Rafael "El Jefe" Trujillo - she was unable to set foot on the island during Trujillo's more than three-decade reign. She was quoted as saying in this period. "I am not welcome to the Dominican Republic. It's a gnawing feeling to see the place where one was born, particularly when you can't go. Sort of like forbidden fruit." Ms. Boyar was married three times, including to actor Leslie Nielson in the early 1950's. She made her home in Las Vegas since the late 1970's. She is survived by her half-sister, Hope Gonzalez; nephew, Frank Effrece; and great-nephew, Colonel Frank Effrece. Services were private.
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