The easy smile and cheerful disposition earned her the moniker “kalog” from colleagues at LVN Pictures. To the cineastes of the fifty’s however, the image of Delia Razon was forever etched as the ‘dame of costume epics.’
Delia is Lucy May Gritz, an Ilongga with German-American roots. She joined the acting business when she was 18 as a bit player in LVN studio. Her first film was the Lilia Dizon starrer “Krus na Bituin” in 1949. After barely four pictures, LVN matriarch Dona Narcisa de Leon saw a special spark in the spritely lass and assigned her to lead in the mammoth hit “Prinsipe Amante,” opposite Rogelio dela Rosa.
“Prinsipe Amante’ is my favorite movie because it made me. For two years, no film ever matched its box-office record. There was a long line of eager moviegoers when it opened,” reminisced Delia. “I was carried by the people from Sta. Cruz bridge, beside the Escolta church. The unexpected swell of enthusiastic crowd forced LVN to hold two premiere showings, one in Lyric and another in Life(theater)”.
The Amante movie was followed by a sequel, “Prinsipe Amante sa Rubitania“ and a host of other successful sword-and-sandal movies. “Dona Sisang created the most beautiful costumes for our movies. They were so elaborate. Perfect, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Pati shoes, ginagawa ni Dona Sisang,” said Delia.
Until now, Delia keeps some of her original costumes, together with copies of her vintage films. “But a lot were lost, gone forever. It’s really a pity they were not preserved,” lamented Delia.
For most of her film career, she was the regal but sassy princess. What people don’t know is the fact that Delia was born with a bone defect in the jugular area. The other secret is her inability to shed a tear, fake or otherwise, in her films.
As to her physical defect, Delia said, “I stand straight. So, it doesn’t really matter”. As to her crying scenes or lack of it, she explained that her eyes have a peculiar way of siphoning her tears in. “Kahit lagyan ng kung ano, kinakain pa rin ng mata ko yung luha. So, during crying scenes, laging malayo ang shot ko.”
Even in real life, Delia is far from a cry baby. “Nothing bothers me. I only cry when I pray to God. I thank the Lord for everything, even the heartaches, because they make me stronger.”
For a while, Delia was also teased about her figure. “Dona Sisang used to say, ‘Uy, ikaw lang ang prinsesang walang bewang.’ So, I bought a girdle. But in one of my scenes with Rogelio (dela Rosa), I fainted because I couldn’t breathe. In panic, Rogelio opened the girdle, and that spelled the end of my bout with the pestering contraption.”
Looking back to her LVN days, she could only beam with gratitude. “My days at LVN were the happiest in my life. I love the people I worked with. They’re my family. Their kinship was particularly felt when I lost my mom. She died at 46 when I was in the movies. My dad died when I was young.” Until now, Lilia maintains her friendship with fellow LVN stars like Lilia Dizon, Rosa Rosal, etc. Her peers describe her as friendly, faithful and loyal. “Darling ang tawagan namin. Minsan, Dahl”, mused Delia.
Her kindness is also legend. In fact, apart from lending her talent to the silver screen, Delia also helped one of her fans, Nida Blanca to become one of the movie’s biggest star. “I saw her in an amateur singing contest. When she told me she wanted to be a movie star, I did not hesitate to help her. I told her to dress up, and I even lend her a high- heeled shoe before we went to Dona Sisang.”
“I like all my leading men. They’re all good,” said Delia of her male co-stars, that included Rogelio dela Rosa, Teody Belarmino in “Mutya ng Pasig,” Mario Montenegro, Eddie Rodriguez in “Luksang Tagumpay,” where she earned nomination as FAMAS Best Actress, Leroy Salvador, Tony Santos Sr, Jaime dela Rosa, Carlos Salazar, Vic Silayan, Nestor de Villa and Jose Padilla Jr, to name some.
Surprisingly, Delia wasn’t romantically linked to any of her leading men nor did she figure in any scandal or ugly rumor. “I didn’t experience any heartache in showbiz,” she said. “I’m not confrontational. If someone did me wrong, I refused even to look at them. And even if they’d talk to me, I’d answer but I wouldn’t look at their face.”
It doesn’t mean however that hers was a dull showbiz ride. “Far from it,” she laughed. “I have many unforgettable experiences in showbiz.” One in particular was a prosthetic mishap that went terribly wrong. “Anastacio Caedo created a prosthetic mask to make it appear that my other eye was gorged out by a dog. It was pasted on my face during the entire shoot. The problem ensued when we couldn’t remove the thing off my face. It turned out that the make- up artist used rugby to attach the mask on my face. The process of removing the prosthetic took three hours. After two months, dark blotches appeared on my entire face as a result of the rugby burn. Eventually, it faded. But it took eleven years before the blotches were totally gone.”
She cried unabashedly during the entire removal process, not because of fear for a possible facial damage but due to the fact that she was already late for a dance ball that night. “Oh yes, I love to dance,” admitted Delia. “I was young, and all I could think of were the dance balls that I would miss should the situation really got out of hand.”
Her love affair with dancing came handy during the execution of her sword fight sequences. “Ang eskrimahan kasi, may choreography. It’s like a dance that has certain steps”, said Delia.
Another of her unforgettable experiences was the risky jump from the balcony of Guadalupe Church direct to a horse on the ground, for the movie “Prinsipe Amante Sa Rubitania” in 1952. “If the horse moved even a fraction, it would have been disastrous, right? Because I would fall on solid ground.” But Delia did it, and in the process, galloped her way to the hearts of the adoring public.
Her stint at LVN Studios allowed her to do 59 films. Her last feature film was “Ang Rebelde” in 1958. Delia bid adieu to full-time showbiz career, when she married businessman Aurelio “Reli” Reyes. They have three children, Carl Glenn (Jojo), Aurea and Maria Aurelia.
Delia describes her life as, well, happy. “First of all, I’m happy that people know me. That’s why I really go out of my way to talk to the fans. I’m not the yabang type, kasi God said that all of us are equal. That’s what I teach to my grandchildren. You have to be polite and nice to people. God has been good to me. You see, I have no sorrow in my life, no heartaches.”
These days, the ever effervescent Delia still graces the television and the movies on occasions. What she enjoys most however, is her full-time preoccupation of taking good care and enjoying her nine grandchildren, two of whom have followed her footsteps — Carla Angeline, the famous “Carla” in a shampoo commercial and “Wazzup Wazzup’s KC Reyes.
“Happiness,” Ayn Rand said. “is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.” The way she lives her life, Delia Razon has clearly found hers. Hurray to the queen of ‘costume’ drama! (For comments, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)