Hispanic Lifestyle honorees Eva Longoria and Richard Montañez on hand at the opening of new exhibits honoring trailblazing Hispanics at The Hollywood Museum
On Friday, October 13th, Eva Longoria, Diane Warren, Richard Montañez, and Donelle Dadigan (The Hollywood Museum Founder/Curator) celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month at The Hollywood Museum (1660 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90028) with the Grand Opening of a new Flamin’ Hot exhibit and the expansion of other exhibits honoring trailblazing Hispanics. At the event, Longoria, Montañez, and Warren received Certificates of Recognition from the State of California Senate by Senator María Elena Durazo for Hispanic Heritage Month which acknowledged their contributions to their communities for Flamin’ Hot. The Flamin’ Hot exhibit included a low-rider convertible from the film’s original song, “The Fire Inside,” music video performed by Becky G, memorabilia from Richard Montañez’s time at Frito Lay, Eva Longoria’s clapboard signed by the cast, original songwriting notes from Diane Warren’s “The Fire Inside,” a prototype of the original Flamin’ Hot Cheetos bag, and more. The event also celebrated exhibits dedicated to Hispanics that made significant impacts on Hollywood’s history. A key figure in the exhibit is the legendary conductor and pianist José Iturbi who was the first musician to sell 1 million copies of a record and among the first musicians to receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is credited with sparking a classical music renaissance with his roles in MGM musical films such as Anchors Aweigh, That Midnight Kiss, and Thousands Cheer. The exhibit features his 9-foot Baldwin Concert Grand Piano and the 16-CD box set /188-page coffee table book commemorating his life and recordings. The box set will be eligible for Grammy consideration for Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes, and Best Packaging – Boxed or Limited Edition. Click here for tickets to visit the Flamin’ Hot and José Iturbi exhibits at the Hollywood Museum.
Eva Longoria was recognized as Hispanic Lifestyle Latina of Influence in 2013 and Richard Montañez as an Hispanic Lifestyle Executive of Influence in 2019
The Flamin’ Hot, José Iturbi, and many other exhibits at the Hollywood Museum commemorate Hispanic American innovation and perseverance. These ideals are reflected in the Warren-penned original song “The Fire Inside” for Flamin’ Hot. The song’s music video, displayed in the exhibit, highlights the resilience of dreamers in the face of adversity. Longoria, Warren, Montañez, Iturbi, and Dadigan embody this innovation and perseverance in each one of their exhibits as they have overcome countless obstacles to realize their dreams.
Long before Eva Longoria addressed the nation with the President of the United States at the White House screening of Flamin’ Hot, she was a young girl working at Wendy’s to save money for her quinceañera. As a young woman, she spent a decade doing TV guest and direct-to-video appearances to break into the acting world. She eventually landed a leading role in Desperate Housewives, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. However, Longoria had ambition beyond acting, and she set her sights on directing. She was selected from many of the best directors in Hollywood to direct her first feature film, Flamin’ Hot, because producers recognized her detailed and personal understanding of the heart of the story and its subject, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos inventor Richard Montañez.
Richard Montañez was born into a migrant labor camp and worked in the fields with his father. As a teen, he dropped out of high school, joined a gang, and lived without direction. That is, until he started a family with his wife, Judy. With newfound motivation to change his life, he left the gang and landed a janitor job at a Frito-Lay factory. There, he recognized an untapped Latino market and developed a new Cheeto prototype with a Mexican-inspired chile-limón flavor. Emblazoned by the idea and determined to make it a reality, Montañez directly phoned the CEO’s office to pitch his spicy Cheetos. The CEO was intrigued by the new snack concept, took a meeting with the eager janitor, and ultimately greenlit the launch.
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos became a billion-dollar brand and Montañez was promoted to Marketing Executive at Frito-Lay. He is the only four-time recipient of PepsiCo’s Chairman’s Award.
Diane Warren faced similar obstacles to become one of the most celebrated songwriters of all time. As a child dreaming of becoming a songwriter, her songs were dismissed by her mother who told her to “take them to Ralphs and see how many groceries they’ll give you for them,” and by her music teacher who told her she was tone deaf. However, she stopped at nothing to turn her passion into a career. Now, Warren has received more recognition than she could have imagined as a misunderstood young girl. She has written songs for over 60 films, is tied with Lionel Richie for most #1 hit songs as a solo songwriter, has been named Billboard Songwriter of the Year four times, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has won a Grammy, an Emmy, and two Golden Globes, and after receiving 14 Oscar nominations for Best Original Song, won an Honorary Oscar in 2022.
In 20th century Spain, José Iturbi also learned the meaning of sacrifice at a young age. He was born in a low-income household, but when his parents discovered he was a piano prodigy, they put what little they had into his piano lessons. To help put food on the table, 7-year-old Iturbi played piano at silent movie theaters for 12 hours a day, sometimes following these long shifts with by playing at all-night cafés until dawn. He would go on to become the first musical artist to sell one million copies of a record in 1945 and was among the first people awarded a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8th, 1960. Iturbi also co-starred in seven popular MGM Golden Era films including “Anchors Aweigh,” “Holiday in Mexico,” and “That Midnight Kiss,” and is credited with spawning a classical music renaissance in America’s mainstream culture.
Though she was often underestimated as a woman in a male dominated industry, Iturbi’s goddaughter, Donelle Dadigan, has become a powerful champion of classical music and Hollywood history. Inspired by his passion for piano as a child, Dadigan studied under Iturbi and at the Conservatoire de Paris. Driven to continue his life’s mission to share classical music with the world, she co-founded the José Iturbi Foundation, which is focused on music education and sharing classical music with mainstream audiences. Beyond the Foundation, Dadigan has been involved with numerous community groups and charitable organizations, is co-chair of the Hollywood Historic Trust, sits on the Board of Directors of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Police Activities League, and singlehandedly saved the Historic Max Factor Building from destruction, ultimately turning it into the renowned Hollywood Museum. There, she continues to share classical music and the stories of relentless trailblazers with visitors from around the world.