Mexican Slapstick Comedy Icon 'La India Maria' Dies at 74

La India Maria

Maria Elena Velasco is a household name in the Spanish-speaking world.

Beloved Mexican film and television actress Maria Elena Velasco, better known as "La India Maria," died on Friday. She was 74.

Velasco appeared in dozens of films and television series over a career that spanned more than four decades. She is best known as La India Maria, a slapstick comedy character based on a stereotypical Mexican indigenous woman.

Her last film was La Hija de Moctezuma (Moctezuma's Daughter), an adventure comedy in which a bumbling India Maria must save Mexico from destruction. Velasco's son, Ivan Lipkies, directed the movie, which marked the return of La India Maria to the big screen after a 15-year absence.

Other credits include the action-comedy El coyote emplumado (The Plumed Coyote) and the family comedy La comadrita (The Godmother), done during the height of Velasco's career in the '70s and '80s. Velasco also wrote and produced for television and film.

State-run film institute Imcine confirmed news of Velasco's death on Twitter. Local news outlets previously reported that she had been battling stomach cancer, however Imcine did not specify the cause of death.