Germán Valdés

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Germán Valdés
Statue of Tin Tan on Génova Street in Zona Rosa of Mexico City
Germán Genaro Cipriano Gómez Valdés de Castillo

(1915-09-19)19 September 1915
Died29 June 1973(1973-06-29) (aged 57)
Other namesTin-Tan
Years active1944–1973

Germán Genaro Cipriano Gómez Valdés de Castillo (19 September 1915 – 29 June 1973), better known as Tin-Tan, was an actor, singer and comedian who was born in Mexico City but was raised and began his career in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. He often displayed the pachuco dress and employed pachuco slang in many of his movies, some with his brothers Manuel "El Loco" Valdés and Ramón Valdés. He made the language of the Mexican American pachucos famous in Mexico. A "caló" based in Spanglish, it was a mixture of Spanish and English in speech based on that of Mexican immigrants.

Origin of name[edit]

Tin Tan began his career by calling himself Topillo (slang for the trickster), which a friend of his stated sounded too vulgar and uncouth for a comedian. He suggested instead the nickname Tin Tan (based on the phonetic sound of bells ringing), which Tin Tan originally disliked but grew to like and use professionally for his whole career.[1]


His movie career came as a completely surprise for everyone. He used to work as a sweeper for the XEJ station in Ciudad Juarez, when he decided to try and mimic the radio announcers for fun. Unbeknownst to him, the actual announcer had left leaving the microphone on. His quick wit and funny personality garnered him acclaim and he was quickly promoted to the main radio announcer himself. It was in this circumstances that legendary ventriloquist Paco Miller contacted him to act in films, and his career began.[2]

He usually acted alongside his "carnal" (blood brother), Marcelo Chávez, who also accompanied Tin-Tan with a guitar. He was a prominent figure during his golden years of movie making, from 1949 onward. His 1948 movie, Calabacitas tiernas, a comedy, was chosen as one of the best in Mexican cinema[citation needed].

Tin Tan dancing with singer and actress Flor Silvestre, his co-star in ¡Paso a la juventud..! and Escuela de verano

He has the record of having kissed the most actresses in his career[citation needed], some of them the beauties of their day. Some of his co-stars were Marga López, Rosita Quintana, Silvia Pinal, Amalia Aguilar, Meche Barba, Ana Bertha Lepe, Maria Antonieta Pons, Tongolele and many more. He also collaborated closely with actress and comedian Fannie Kauffman, who was also known as Vitola, during their careers.[3][4]

He was also one of several people who were originally intended to be on the front cover of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but declined the invitation.[citation needed] He requested that Ringo swap him for a Mexican Tree known as "El Arbol de la Vida", the Tree of Life, and he did.[citation needed]

He was the voice of Baloo the bear and Thomas O'Malley the cat in the Mexican Spanish dubbing of the Disney films The Jungle Book and The Aristocats; both roles were originally voiced by Phil Harris.

Tin-Tan was the subject of the 2005 documentary, Ni Muy Muy… Ni Tan Tan… Simplemente Tin Tán, by Manuel Márquez and Carlos Valdés, son of the comedian.


Mural of Tin Tan at the Multiforo Cultural Alicia

He became ill with hepatitis, which degenerated into cancer. He then fell into a hepatic coma and died.

When he died he did not leave a fortune, just a testament to his wife Rosalía and his children Rosalía and Carlos.

He left behind a legacy of over 100 movies, 11 records, two short films, and three Walt Disney dubs (Jungle Book, The Aristocats, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad).

The only recognition he received was the "Medalla Virginia Fábregas"(Virginia Fábregas Medal), a medal given for 25 years of professional service by the "Asociación de Actores de México" (Association of Actors of México).


An illustration of codeswitching word play: Hey Vato, how do you say "window" in English? (window appears verbatim in the original quote in Spanish).



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Vitola fallece a los 84 años". El Universal. 2009-02-23. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
  4. ^ "´La Vitola´ se retiró a tiempo". El Universal. 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
  5. ^ Smith, Don G. (1996). "Lon Chaney Jr.". McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-7864-0120-6. Page 148

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