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Great Mexican imports


By Patrick Kevin Day and Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

In honor of the great celebration of Mexican culture known as Cinco de Mayo, we look at some of our favorite cultural imports from south of the border who went on to leave their stamp on Hollywood, be it as director, actor or musician.

 (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Gael Garcia Bernal

Born: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico | Greatest pop culture contribution: His passionate, smoldering performance as a young Che Guevara in Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries” won him a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nomination and the hearts of an international array of female admirers.

 (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Salma Hayek

Born: Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico | Greatest pop cultural contribution: The multi-faceted Hayek is known for many things. Adolescent males surely identify her with her eye candy roles in the Robert Rodriguez flicks “From Dusk Till Dawn” and “Desperado,” and others remember her for her Oscar-nominated turn in “Frida.” Mainstream audiences probably know her best as the onetime executive producer (and occasional performer on) the hit ABC series “Ugly Betty.”

 (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Formed: Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico | Greatest pop cultural contribution: Still the act’s self-titled 2002 debut, but a Kinky live show is not to be missed. Melding traditional Mexican sounds with rock, dance and techno, Kinky’s music is a head trip as much as it is a hip-shaker.

 (Stefano Paltera / For the Times)
Guillermo del Toro

Born: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico | Greatest pop culture contribution: American audiences are still shivering at the nightmarish look of Del Toro’s eyes-in-the-palms Pale Man in “Pan’s Labyrinth.” His “Pacific Rim,” where huge robot jaegers battled otherwordly kaiju, helped him bring a childhood dream to life.

 (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Alfonso Bedoya

Born: Vicam, Sonora, Mexico | Greatest pop cultural contribution: As the smiling Gold Hat in John Huston’s 1948 classic “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” Bedoya delivered one of the most memorable lines in all of cinema: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.”

Carlos Santana

Born: Autlan de Navarro, Mexico | Greatest pop cultural contribution: A pioneer of Latin rock ‘n’ roll, Santana brought flourishes of Latin jazz to his guitar playing, which possesses an easy-going rhythm to even his most complicated of guitar moves. Check “Oye Coma Va” or “Black Magic Woman” for some of his most recognizable -- and danceable -- guitar maneuvers.

 (Koral Carballo / AFP/Getty Images)
Anthony Quinn

Born: Chihuahua, Mexico | Greatest pop cultural contribution: Quinn was nominated for an Oscar four times, winning twice for “Viva Zapata!” and “Lust for Life.” But the role that brought him the greatest sustained notoriety was the larger-than-life Alexis Zorbas in the 1964 film “Zorba the Greek.” Quinn was forever after associated with Greek and European roles, playing the same type again in films such as “The Greek Tycoon” and as a Bedouin leader in “Lion of the Desert.”

Ricardo Montalban

Born: Mexico City, Mexico | Greatest pop cultural contribution: The debates over this one could split the world of pop cultural fandom down the middle. When it comes to Montalbán, there’s the Khan camp (as in “Wrath of” as in “Star Trek”) and there’s the Roark camp, fans of the white-suited mysterious host of “Fantasy Island.” Considering that it takes an actor of considerable skill to steal the scene from William Shatner, we give the edge to Montalbán’s villainous space-farer. If only because he developed the most amazing pectoral muscles for the role.

 (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
Cafe Tacuba

Formed: 1989, Mexico City | Greatest pop cultural contribution: Since forming, Café Tacuba has set about to meld genres and crash through musical influences, creating a wildly diverse catalog that’s challenged the boundaries of not only rock en espanol, but also rock ‘n’ roll in general. Albums like “Sino” and “Cuatro Caminos” capture the calmer and more aggressive sides of Café Tacuba, but they are equally adventurous.

 (Geffen Records)