García was born Sara García Hidalgo to Andalusian parents, Isidoro García Ruiz, an architect, and his wife Felipa Hidalgo de Ruiz. Her father was hired for various jobs in Veracruz, where they arrived, having just come from Havana, Cuba. García was the only survivor of their eleven children. In 1900, her mother died of typhoid fever which García had caught first and her mother caught from her.
García started her film career at 22 when she was a teacher at a Catholic school for girls, where she served as a substitute art professor. She is said to have been a talented painter in those days. One day she noticed that in a small building in Mexico City a film was being produced by newly founded film company Azteca Films. The 1917 silent, black and white feature film was Alma de Sacrificio (Soul of Sacrifice), the first production of Azteca Films, which was one of the very first Mexican film production companies. The leading lady was stage actress turned film producer (and writer, actress, editor and, maybe director) Mimí Derba. After screening tests she was offered a contract and a role as an extra in the film. She accepted although she did not mention it to her employers for many months. She appeared in two more films that year as an extra.
Sara García in Ahí está el detalle (1940)
García's film appearances lead to the theater. She began in the theater playing minor roles. However, during her early acting experiences, her natural talent and strong voice on the stage soon led to ten years acting on stage with the theater company Compañía de Comedia Selecta at the Theater Virginia Fábregas, which was the top theater group in Mexico of the time. There she shared the stage with Eduardo Arozamena, Sara Uthoff, Mercedes Navarro, Prudencia Grifell and the sisters Anita and Isabel Blanch, who were among the most prominent Mexican stage actors of the time. García's stage career took her all over Mexico and Central America. During these travels she met her husband, Fernando Ibáñez though the actress, Mercedes Navarro. She gave birth to their daughter, Fernanda Mercedes Ibáñez during a stop in Tepic, Nayarit.
Filmmakers often solicited her to play movie roles during those years. However, she interrupted her stage career to appear in only one film between 1918 and 1933. García appeared in the film Yo Soy Tu Padre (I Am Your Father) in 1927. Six years later, however, she returned to the screen full time in Vuelo de La Muerte (Death Flight) in 1933. She then began a very long career of 148 films. Her first starring role was in the 1936 film Así Es la Mujer (A Woman is Like That); that film was followed by No Basta Ser Madre (It is Not Enough to be a Mother) (1937), in which her daughter Fenanda also appeared. The two then appeared in Por Mis Pistolas (By My Pistols) in 1938 and Papacito Lindo (My Handsome Dad) in 1939.
García and subservient Bartolo (Fernando Soto)
Almost from the start, Sara García played the parts of mothers and grandmothers, García started a long series of films co-starring with the brightest stars of the cinema of Mexico, such as Cantinflas, Domingo Soler, Joaquín Pardavé and two with Prudencia Grifell as the Vivanco sisters. She continued playing mother roles and then grandmother roles starting with the 1940 film Allá en el Trópico (There in the Tropics), for which she had all of her teeth removed in order to get the role. While she was still quite young, she did a convincing job of playing an old lady in that film.
García with Pedro Infante in Dicen Que Soy Mujeriego (1949)
She co-starred many times in "Golden Age of Mexican cinema" films as the grandmother of famous Mexican actor Pedro Infante. Pedro was (and is) so well known and popular that they call him the "idol" (el idolo). She was famous in these films for always having a cigar in her mouth and frequently, when mad, delivering quick blows with her ever-present walking stick to the posterior of her rolly polly servant named "Bartolo" (Fernando Soto). The firm upturn of her jaw in the famous photo of her above shows her feisty but lovable nature in her films. For instance, after she dies in one of her films, Pedro Infante, playing the role of her grandson, forces a Mariachi band at gun point to accompany him to her newly dug grave in a heavy downpour for them to play while he tearfully tells her how much he loves and misses her.
García grabbing Infante by the ear in Dicen Que Soy Mujeriego (1949)
In her Golden Age movies with Pedro Infante, she often played the part of the stern grandmother who constantly tried to get her adult good-timing grandson to behave. She would often take fully grown Pedro Infante by the ear like a child, when she was mad at him. However, while she never would show it, she loved him deeply. These two photos summarize their repeated screen relationship perfectly. In this first scene from the 1949 Mexican movie Dicen Que Soy Mujeriego (They Say I am a Womanizer), she takes Infante by the ear at his own wedding when he pays too much attention to a passing beauty. In the second scene, by contrast, she kisses him tenderly and whispers to him lovingly in Spanish "If only you weren't a playboy [Mujeriego]", while he is asleep.
In addition to Pedro Infante, she co-starred with almost the entire cast of Mexican movie stars from the 1930s to the 1970s. She came to be known as "Mexico's Grandmother" (Abuela).
She married Fernando Ibáñez in 1918. However, García and her husband divorced in 1923. Their daughter, actress María Fernanda Ibáñez died of typhoid fever in 1940 at the beginning of a promising film career.