Such acclaim went only so far. McCormick was not allowed to wear the male matador's glittering traje de luces, or suit of lights. While praising her valor, her discipline's biggest names were sometimes bruisingly condescending toward her.
Worn down by injuries, conflict with her manager and financial problems, McCormick moved to Los Angeles in 1962.
It was a time when stars would drive to Tijuana for a day at the bullfights, and McCormick gained a following in Hollywood. Her 1954 book, "Lady Bullfighter," sparked some talk of a movie based on her career, but friends said she wasn't much of a self-promoter. Despite her friendship with Gilbert Roland, who played the archetypal Latin lover in numerous films, nothing came of the movie idea.
McCormick never married and had no children. She is survived by her cousin.
After leaving her job at the Pasadena art school in 1979, she moved to a gated community in Pebble Beach. In the early 2000s, she made her way back to Texas — first to Midland, where her father was retired, and then to the border town of Del Rio.
People there still remembered her, said her friend Cookie Gulick.
"She was just kind of a household name here in the '50s," Gulick said. "You constantly heard about her on the radio and you'd see the posters for her fights in the windows at the five-and-dime."
In Del Rio, McCormick gingerly stepped back into the limelight. A broadcaster named Tumbleweed Smith filmed her for a 2007 documentary, "The Texas Torera." She demonstrated her cape technique at the Heritage Museum of Big Spring, which set up a display of her memorabilia. She was a guest of honor at the Running las Vacas festival in Ciudad Acuna — the sister city of Del Rio where a bull almost killed her in 1954.
With her increasing frailty, she declined other invitations. According to friends, she was reserved by nature and never expected any attention after she stepped out of the ring for the last time.
As she wistfully told a Times reporter in a 1989 interview about her bullfighting career: "Not every Sunday will be a glorious Sunday."