Geraldine Acthley was born in 1950 to Patricia Dory Ocura of Bacolod, a ticket taker at the Mayfair Theater in Avenida, Manila, and to Bouffard Acthley, a German-American who didn't stay long after Geraldine's birth. Geraldine grew up in the rough neighborhood of Gagalangin, Tondo, accompanying her mother to work. Already the love for acting was very strong in the young girl. A fire burned down their house and at age eleven, Geraldine had to help her mother make ends meet. She actually drove a tricycle (a three-wheeled vehicle) near J. P. Rizal, and even as passengers mistook her for a tomboy, she was given tips for being the solitary female driver. She also sold fried bananas at the racetracks. In 1964, Geraldine won a dance contest on TV, "Dance-O-Rama," hosted by Boots Anson-Roa; she won for a day, and then she won the weekly title. Sampaguita Studios head Jose R. Perez asked Geraldine for a meeting, and she agreed. She was only in her second year of high school at the Immaculate Conception in Balut, Tondo. After a typical eight months of being groomed and shown in bit roles, she was soon given meatier supporting roles, usually playing the sister or best friend to Sampaguita Pictures' top female star,Liberty Ilagan and Susan Roces. In 1964 she was paired opposite a Sampaguita Pictures heartthrob Eddie Gutierrez in "Eddie Longlegs." With a new screen name of Gina Pareño, and clothed beautifully in Pitoy Moreno gowns for film shootings and movie premières, Gina was finally launched as a member of "Stars of '66," a Sampaguita Pictures roster of new faces for that year. This roster included Loretta Marquez,Blanca Gomez, Rosemarie Sonora, Sarah Calvin, Shirley Moreno, Dindo Fernando, Edgar Salcedo, Ricky Belmonte, Ramil Rodriguez and Pepito Rodriguez. Although everybody else followed the rigid rules of being a proper star, Gina proved to be the wild card. To be launched in the 1968 film "Mama", opposite Lolita Rodriguez, Gina got pregnant and was reprimanded by Doctor Perez. After giving birth in 1969, Gina made a stunning comeback as "Darna" in Si Darna at ang Planetman (1969), opposite Vic Vargas; she got several notices for her performance -- and her prominently displayed cleavage. In 1974, after her Sampaguita contract expired, Gina became a busy free-lance actress, proving her dramatic mettle in many melodramas and soapers. In 1984 she was part of the solid cast of Working Girls (1984), a multi-awarded film of Ishmael Bernal. More films followed where her presence lent gravitas to the cast or picture, including Bubble's Ativan Gang (1988), Kung tapos na ang kailanman (1990), Mangarap ka (1995) and Ipaglaban mo: The Movie Part 2 (1997)_. Gina had become perfect support for artists launched in solo movies [Ynez Veneracion in Babae sa dalampasigan (1997), Camille Prats and Serena Dalrymple in Hiling (1998), and Gladys Reyes in Anak ng dilim (1997)]. Gina also had a Michael Caine mentality, game enough to appear in sprightly OR sleazy sex comedies starring Abby Viduya, Rosanna Roces and Natasha Ledesma. Gina was one of the sexiest actresses of the 1970s, and it was a fitting tribute that she would play the big-bossomed mother (or grandma) of Rufa Mae Quinto in two movies parodying big-bossomed women: Booba (2001) and Masikip sa dibdib: The Boobita Rose Story (2004). Gina also provided perfect comic relief, along with comic veterans like Marissa Delgado in the Sharon Cuneta starrer, Pagdating ng panahon (1998). It wasn't a successful roller coaster ride all the way. In 1993, Gina appeared on the TV program "Lovingly Yours, Helen," haggard and toothless. Her reckless foray into drug abuse nearly destroyed her film career but some loyal friends, like the late Helen Vela, rallied for her rehabilitation and a second chance for acting. (Gina started taking drugs in 1988). Gina enrolled in the DARE Drug Rehabilitation Clinic, where she spent a gruelling but eye-opening eighteen months. In 2005, Gina yet again proved her ability to reach a wide range of audiences when she played the grandmother (and previous Darna) in the TV soap, "Darna" (2005), opposite young Angel Locsin. This fantasy soap was being watched both by elders and children alike and had very high ratings. In another successful career move, Gina accepted the chance to be in an "independent film", Kubrador (2006). Directed by Jeffrey Jeturian on a small budget and turned down by major studios, Gina and everybody behind the film were overwhelmed with Kubrador (2006)'s success in a few international festivals. Gina won the Best Actress award at the Osian's Cinefan 8th Festival of Asia (in New Delhi), and the film also won for Best Director and "Best Asian Film in Competition." Gina and Jeffrey were also invited to the 39th Moscow International Film Festival. Kubrador (2006) had won the Critics' award for Best Film! The film will have its North American/Canadian première at 'Toronto International Film Festival' from 7 to 16 september. From 28 september to 13 october, the film will be moving to Vancouver International Film Festival. Kubrador (2006) will have its Bollywood première at Mumbai's 5th Asian Film Festival from 12 to 19 october. From 12 to 20 october, it will be screened at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea. It will also join the film festivals in Hawaii, Sao Paolo and Thessaloniki, Greece. After 40 years of show business, Gina Pareño has felt very much fulfilled and renewed.
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