Spanish actress and singer Sara Montiel died Monday at her home in Madrid, apparently of natural causes, emergency services officials told Efe. She was 85.

An ambulance from Madrid emergency services rushed to attend the artist, but paramedics could do nothing to save her life.

Montiel was one of Spain's most internationally renowned actresses and singers when Hollywood scarcely knew the Spanish movie industry existed.

Born Maria Antonia Abad Fernandez in the town of Campo de Criptana in La Mancha, she was the diva of Spanish films, an icon of sensuality and queen of the "cuple" (a Spanish song style). She acted in some 50 movies and recorded more than 30 discs.

Her stunning beauty got her picked to share top billing in the 1950s with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster in the film "Veracruz."

In Spain she starred in one of the great blockbusters of Spanish cinema "El Ultimo Cuple" in 1957, on the 50th anniversary of which a special tribute was arranged for her in Miami.

She soon became an erotic legend, an artist who sang seductive songs like "Fumando Espero," "Besame Mucho," "La Violetera" and "Amado Mio."

In America's movie mecca she signed million dollar contracts with Warner Brothers and United Artists, worked with directors like Anthony Mann - her first husband - and onscreen infatuated such Hollywood heartthrobs as Cooper, Lancaster and Charles Bronson.

Among her "unmentionable" loves, Montiel always mentioned five men: Nobel Laureate in Medicine Severo Ochoa, poet Leon Felipe, playwright Miguel Mihura, moviemaker Mario Camus, and writer Ernest Hemingway.

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