Claudia was an underrated actress since she was built up as a bold star. Her drama coach, Frank Rivera says: “Except for her diction, she had the makings of a good actress. She had depth and a wide range of emotion. She was okay as a beginner in Shame…” No less than (the late) Lino Brocka found her quite perceptive as an actress. Brocka took her for a plum guest role in the movie Brocka was making that time for Cannes,Kapit sa Patalim. Claudia was quite enthusiastic about her Brocka assignment, “Nagka-vibes kami ni Lino sa unang araw pa lamang…Panay take one ako. Pinapalakpakan pa nga ako ni Lino pagkatapos ng eksena. Alam ko marami pang kanin ang kakainin ko to be good pero I’m trying.”
Claudia was doing great in her movie career when fate suddenly intervened in the early morning of February 10, 1984. She died in a tragic car accident. From the front page of Times Journal, here’s that detailed account of that fateful day—
February 11, 1984: BOLD STAR CLAUDIA ZOBEL DIES IN CAR CRASH
Bold star Claudia Zobel was killed yesterday when the car she was driving jumped the island on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and Pasong Tamo, and ran smack into an oncoming Brasilia car.
The 19-year old actress, whose real name was Thelma Maloloy-on, died on the operating table of the Makati Medical Center three hours after the accident occurred at 4:30 a.m. Pfc. Loreto Santos of the Southern Police District’s traffic division said Claudia was with three relatives. They had come from a nightspot on Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City when they met the accident. The three, who also landed in the hospital, were identified as Marlon Antiquera, 26; Alli Tiquero, 28; and Raffy Jaudian, 25. The passengers of the Brasilia, bound for Pasay City from Cubao were identified as Abdhulla-Lawansa, a 19-year old boy from Lanao del Sur; Marcos Junes, 39; Bonny Panatulan, 36; and his wife, Julia, 33; who was reported to be pregnant. Lawansa was driving. They were treated for body injuries in the same hospital.
Movie sources said Claudia was just learning how to drive. Police said she lost control of the Mitsubishi Colt (plate No. PDS 119) when its left front wheel hit the island gutter. The car flipped on the other side and straight into the path of the oncoming Brasilia. The car, owned by couturier Goulee Gorospe, was a total wreck. Claudia, whose first picture, Shame, was initially banned by the censors board but later allowed to be shown with cuts, was pinned between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel.
News of her death was relayed yesterday morning to her relatives in Mandaue City, where she grew up, by Lily Monteverde, producer of Regal Films with which she had an exclusive contract. In an interview with the Times Journal yesterday, Monteverde said she will release Claudia’s just completed film, Forbidden (retitled as Sinner or Saint), immediately. The actual playdate had been set for late this year. The proceeds will go to Claudia’s family, Monteverde added.
The actress would have celebrated her 19th birthday on Febraury 27. Her mother, who has a heart condition had just been hospitalized for two weeks. Claudia even sent her off at the domestic airport last Tuesday, sources said.
Friends and acquaintances of the actress said she had been depressed the past few days over her breakup with her boyfriend, a certain “Jeffrey.”
Sinner or Saint (1984)- Stars Charito Solis, Gloria Romero, Patrick dela Rosa and Claudia Zobel/ Directed by Mel Chionglo