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Famed Bullfighter Luis Miguel ‘Dominguin’ Dies at 69

May 8, 1996

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Luis Miguel Dominguin, a bullfighter with a haughty manner whose intense rivalry with his brother-in-law was chronicled by Ernest Hemingway, died Wednesday. He was 69.

Dominguin had stomach cancer and died of a stroke at his farm near San Roque in southern Spain, said Fernando Fernandez Roman, a bullfighting critic who spoke with Dominguin’s family.

The matador led a passionate life inside and outside the bullring. His steely nerves and dark, lean looks attracted many women, including Hollywood actresses such as Ava Gardner.

Hemingway chronicled the bullfighting rivalry in 1959 between Dominguin and his brother-in-law, Antonio Ordonez, for Life magazine. The story became a book, ``The Dangerous Summer,″ published after Hemingway’s death.

``Bullfighting is worthless without rivalry. But with two great bullfighters it becomes a deadly rivalry,″ Hemingway wrote, explaining that the constant one-upmanship can force a bullfighter to go beyond his abilities and be wounded or killed.

That dangerous summer ended with Dominguin being gored in a bullring in Bilbao _ not during a death-defying maneuver but in simply preparing the bull for another pass.

``It is one of the simplest moves in bullfighting and he had done it many thousands of times,″ Hemingway wrote. ``The bull paid no attention to the cape and sank his horn into Luis Miguel’s thigh.″

Dominguin recovered and continued bullfighting until retiring in 1973.

Upon hearing of Dominguin’s death, Ordonez left for his old rival’s home to pay his respects, the Spanish news agency EFE reported.

``Luis Miguel was a charmer _ dark, tall, no hips, just a touch too long in the neck for a bullfighter, with a grave mocking face that went from professional disdain to easy laughter,″ Hemingway wrote.

For years, Domingiun had a relationship with Gardner. He was also romantically involved with Brigitte Bardot, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Olivia de Havilland and Zsa Zsa Gabor, EFE said.

He befriended artist Pablo Picasso and playwright Jean Cocteau and went on hunting trips with Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.

Bullfighting critics praised Dominguin’s large repertoire but said his style lacked grace. He was not regarded as a master of the cape, but excelled in the banderillas that stick into the neck and shoulders of a bull.

Hemingway disliked his showmanship: Dominguin sometimes would kiss a stunned, wounded bull before dispatching it with his sword.

In a somber, highly formalized activity like bullfighting, his habit in the 1940s of raising his right index finger in the air in the bullring to proclaim himself No. 1 shocked critics.

When Dominguin later raised fighting bulls in southern Spain, he adopted No. 1 as his brand.

Born Luis Miguel Gonzalez Lucas, Dominguin was the son of a famed bullfighter. He began his career as a novice at age 11 in Lisbon and fought his last bull in Barcelona on Sept. 12, 1973.

In 1955, Dominguin married Italian movie actress Lucia Bose. They had a son, Miguel _ a pop star and actor _ and two daughters, Paola and Lucia.

After separating, Dominguin later married Rosario Primo de Rivera, a relative of Gen. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera who headed a dictatorship in Spain early this century.

Dominguin is survived by his wife, three children and four grandchildren.

The funeral is scheduled for Thursday in San Roque’s city cemetery.

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