Gloria Evangelina Elizondo López-Llera was born 28 April 1929 in Mexico City, Mexico to Evangelina López Llera, who was a painter. At the age of 21, she won a contest to become the voice of Cinderella in the Spanish-language release of the Walt Disney production film. Her first acting performance, at the Teatro Margo was as a dancer in the 1950 production of “Los de abajo” by Mariano Azuela. From that starting point, she went on to participate in many theater productions including “Mame”, “Yo y mi Chica”, “Dónde está el Tenor”, “La viuda alegre” (The Merry Widow) with Plácido Domingo, and others.
Her first film was “Las locuras de Tin-Tan” with Germán Valdés made in 1951. After that, some of her favorite films were “Frontera Norte” (1953), “Educando a Papa” (1954), “Pueblo de Proscritos” (1955), and “Los Platillos Voladdres” (1955). From 1954 to 1955, Elizondo filmed nine pictures in Cuba and when she returned she made “Tropicana” (1956), “Superflaco” (1957) and “El Castillo de los Monstrous” (1957). The last two were personal favorites, one because it was a musical and the other because it was an Abbott and Costello-type film and the actors in it were enjoyable to work with. In her later career, Elizondo filmed “El Mistero de los Hongos Alucinantes” (1967), “Noche de Terror” (1987), and a film in English, “A Walk in the Clouds” (1994), with Keanu Reeves and Anthony Quinn. She made over 75 films, mostly comedies and musicals, as she did not like dramatic works.
At one time Elizondo was married to the oil engineer José Luis Paganoni, but they separated in 1960. On 27 May 1960, Elizondo, who was participating in the play “30 minutos de amor” (30 Minutes of Love) at the Rotunda Theatre with Ramón Gay, had gone to dinner with Gay after their performance. The couple was accosted by Paganoni, and during the argument, Gay was shot. Elizondo called for an ambulance and Gay was taken to Rubén Leñero Hospital. He succumbed to his wounds on 28 May 1960.
Shortly after that event, she recorded her first musical album, La sensacional Evangelina, which was released in 1961 and she has recorded numerous LPs and CDs. Her music spans from children’s songs, to opera, to inspirational songs. She was the first woman to lead an orchestra, which she did for over 12 years.
Elizondo also performed in several telenovelas for both Televisa and TV Azteca. “La frontera”, “El pecado de Oyuki”, “El abuelo y yo”, “Tres veces Sofía”, “Besos prohibidos” and “Mirada de Mujer, el regreso”. In the last two soap operas she performed as the character ‘Mamá Lena’, who has become a cultural icon in Mexico. 'Mama Lena’ is the personification of traditional values meeting the modern world and the emotions that accompany the clashes that inevitably occur. In addition to serials, Elizondo has filmed several commercials, including commercials for American television. In 1996, she did a commercial for the California Milk Commission
She studied various art media: acrylic with Froylán Ojeda, murals with Ignacio Aguirre, oils with Jorge Quiroz, who also taught her how to paint hands, and attended the National School of Painting “La Esmeralda”. She studied with the master painter, José Bardasano Baos and in 1973, she held her first solo exhibition of her artworks. Initially her style was surrealistic with bold use of color, but her later works are more realistic depictions of animals, landscapes and people. As of 2014, she had participated in 64 group art showings and 15 solo exhibitions.
Elizondo attended theology school and graduated with a Bachelor’s in theology in 1993 from La Salle University. She has written a book about art, as well one about philosophy, entitled “Pensamiento Abierto,” and published numerous articles.
In 2004, Elizondo began working full-time at the National Association of Actors (ANDA) as Secretary of Labor and Conflicts but was dismissed in 2012. She sued and won her case for wrongful termination in 2013.
Elizondo was the recipient of a 2014 Premios Arlequín (Harlequin Prize) for her contributions to Mexican culture.