More than 21 years after her brutal murder at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas, Selena is finally joining Hollywood royalty. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced Selena is among the new inductees to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the 18 blocks of sidewalk in California featuring the names of more than 2,500 of America’s biggest pop culture icons.
Selena Quintanilla was the best-selling Latin artist of the 90s and a cultural icon for young Americans, particularly Mexican-Americans. Before her tragic death at the age of 23, she released four Spanish-language albums, selling millions of records and winning multiple awards.
Her only album in English, Dreaming Of You, was released four months after her death and immediately went to No. 1 in America.
Selena’s impact on both Tejano and pop music was immediate and widespread. She burst into a male-dominated genre and brought it to an entirely new audience, quickly becoming a role model for other young Mexican-American girls.
After her debut album, Quintanilla began expanding her shows to feature her outlandish fashion and design, which earned her the moniker of the “The Mexican Madonna.” Yet despite the nickname, she remained largely wholesome in her image, turning down offers for racy advertisements and alcohol sponsorships.
But her fashion sense and business acumen ultimately led to her untimely death.
After her fashion became a hot topic on all of her tour stops, Quintanilla opened up two fashion boutiques, one in San Antonio and one in Corpus Cristi. She and her father, who also managed her, appointed Yolanda Saldivar to run the stores. Saldivar was the president of the Selena fan club for three years prior.
Employees and clothing designers soon began complaining of Saldivar’s conduct, saying she was intimidating them, threatening them and hampering their creativity. Quintanilla’s father Abrahama Quintanilla Jr. tried to convince Selena to fire Saldivar, but Selena believed that he was being paranoid, as Selena and Saldivar had become close friends.
But then Selena began receiving complaints that fans had paid money to the fan club and received nothing in return. She discovered Saldivar embezzled $30,000 from the club and her stores.
Quintanilla’s father forbid Saldivar from contacting her, but Selena agreed to meet her at a Days Inn in Corpus Cristi, where she demanded Saldivar hand over important financial documents related to her businesses. Instead, Saldivar told her she had been raped in Mexico.
Quintanilla drove Saldivar to a local hospital, where doctors found no signs of rape. Upon returning to the hotel, she began emptying Saldivar’s purse. A gun fell out, which Saldivar grabbed off the bed. As Selena began fleeing, Saldivar shot her in the back, severing a major artery. She was able to make it to the lobby, where she identified her shooter before collapsing.
After intensive surgery, doctors were unable to repair her artery and she passed away.
Selena’s murder was worldwide news, where it occupied the front page of The New York Times for two days. More than 60,000 mourners attended her funeral. Her death, particularly among the hispanic community, had as widespread an impact as the deaths of other music icons such as Elvis Presley and John Lennon.
It’s not quite clear why it took so long for Selena to get her star on the Walk of Fame, but it’s long overdue and immensely deserved. Her impact on both Tejano and pop music continues to this day. Her birthday, April 16th, is designated as “Selena Day” in Texas.