MANILA — (UPDATED) Jose Mari Gonzalez, a former matinee idol who rose to fame in the late ‘50s as a contract star of Sampaguita Pictures, passed away on Monday morning, a family member announced. He was 80.
Actress-turned-politician Cristina Romualdez, Gonzalez’s daughter, paid tribute to her father in a Facebook post, writing: “Goodbye, dad… I am blessed to have you as my father. So many good memories with you and Mom since we were little, never failing to take us with you on your trips out of town. Being quite strict to us but within reason. I have learned so much from you. You will always be in our hearts! We love you, Dad!”
Gonzalez is survived by his wife Charito and their five children, including Cristina, and his grandchildren.
Gonzalez died due to pneumonia and cardiac arrest at Asian Hospital and Medical Center, according to veteran journalist Aster Amoyo, a close friend of the family.
His wake will be held starting Wednesday until Friday at the the Heritage Memorial Chapel in Taguig, Amoyo said in a Facebook post.
Launched in the tail end of the 1950s as a matinee idol, Gonzalez went on to star in several Sampaguita Pictures films, including “Beatnik” with Susan Roces and “Operatang Sampay Bakod” with Amalia Fuentes and Dolphy, among others.
He was for a time president of RPN-9, when the TV station ushered in the phenomenal era of the telenovela craze among Filipino viewers via “MariMar.”
From showbiz, Gonzalez later joined politics. He was a congressman of San Juan City from 1998 to 2002.