Marcella Samora Biography

(Mother of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez)

Born: 1944

Born In: United States

Marcella Samora is the mother of the late international pop sensation Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, who was better known by the mononym, Selena. She is of Mexican and Cherokee descent. Born to a Texan father and a Coloradan mother, Marcella spent a part of her early life in Washington. It was there that she met her future husband, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., who was stationed there during his service in the US military. The couple exchanged wedding vows in June 1963. After the birth of their first child, Abraham "A.B." Quintanilla III, the family moved to Texas, where they had two more children, daughters Suzette and Selena. Abraham, who was a singer-songwriter himself, gave all his children music training. He formed a group named Selena y Los Dinos around his three children. Among them, Selena was the breakout star. After Selena’s murder in 1995, Marcella fought alongside the other members of her family to get justice for her daughter. The murderer, one of Selena’s fans and employees, named Yolanda Saldívar, was ultimately sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Childhood & Early Life

Marcella Samora was born on July 17, 1944, in the United States of America. She is part Mexican-American and part Cherokee Indian. Her father was originally from Amarillo, Texas, while her mother was a Colorado native. Little is known about her upbringing and education. However, it is known that she spent a significant part of her early life in Washington.

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Meeting Abraham Quintanilla Jr. & Marriage

While Marcella Samora was residing in Washington, she became acquainted with Abraham Quintanilla Jr., who had been drafted into the military in October 1961 and was serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma. The couple tied the knot on June 8, 1963. On 13 December, she gave birth to their first child, a son whom they named Abraham Isaac Quintanilla III. On the same day, Abraham received his discharge papers from active duty. Within a month, Marcella, her husband, and their newborn son relocated to Abraham’s hometown, Corpus Christi, Texas.

Before joining the military, Abraham was a member of a musical act called Los Dinos. After he returned, he rejoined the group. They performed American pop and rock and roll music at various clubs. On June 29, 1967, Marcella and Abraham welcomed their eldest daughter, Suzette Michelle. Abraham continued to perform with Los Dinos, quitting the group in 1969. Los Dinos was eventually disbanded in 1974.

Marcella Samora and her family relocated to Lake Jackson, Texas, in the early 1970s. By then, Abraham had left the music business completely and gotten regular jobs to support his wife and children. Sometime in 1970, Marcella was diagnosed with a tumour and was informed that she must have an immediate operation to remove it. Before undergoing the procedure, she and her husband decided to get a second opinion. The second doctor told them that she was pregnant. Furthermore, they were informed that they would be having a second son and chose the name “Marc Antony.” However, on April 16, 1971, Marcella and Abraham’s daughter was born at Freeport Community Hospital. One of her roommates there recommended the name “Selena”.

As their children were growing up, Abraham introduced all of them to music one by one. It did not take him long to recognise Selena’s potential. He subsequently formed a new group based on his former band around his children, named Selena y Los Dinos. The family moved back to Corpus Christi sometime in the early-to-mid 1980s.

In 1988, Marcella was introduced to Chris Pérez, who joined Selena y Los Dinos as the lead guitarist and later became her son-in-law through her youngest daughter. Neither Marcella nor Abraham initially had any knowledge about the marriage, which took place on April 2, 1992. After they found out, they eventually accepted Pérez into their family. By the end of 1994, Selena was at the height of her career. She had released several chart-topping albums and won a Grammy and numerous other awards. Marcella’s other children, Abraham III and Suzette, had found recognition in the industry as well.

The Murder of Selena

The family had known Yolanda Saldívar for a while. A self-proclaimed fan of Selena, Saldívar wanted to set up a fan club for the singer. In 1991, Abraham gave his permission and told her to serve as its president. In January 1994, she was made the manager of Selena’s boutiques. However, the family soon found out that she had been embezzling money from the fan club and the boutiques with fake checks and confronted her about it. Saldívar subsequently purchased a gun, persuaded Selena to come to a motel room, and fired a shot at her back. On March 31, 1995, Selena passed away on arrival at the Corpus Christi hospital. She was 23 years old at the time.

Marcella Samora and the rest of the family were devastated. However, they wanted justice for their slain daughter and sister. They got it when Saldívar was sent to prison for life in October 1995 with the possibility of parole after 30 years.
Later Years

Marcella Samora, her family, and Pérez, operate the non-profit organization, The Selena Foundation, which encourages young underprivileged children to pursue education and strive to be a better human being.

In the 1997 biopic, Selena, Marcella was portrayed by Constance Marie. In the upcoming Netflix series of the same name, Seidy Lopez has portrayed her.

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