Pedro in the film A Toda Máquina
|Birth name||Pedro Infante Cruz|
18 November 1917|
Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México
|Died||15 April 1957
Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
Pedro Infante Cruz (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpeðɾo inˈfante]; 18 November 1917 – 15 April 1957), better known as Pedro Infante, was a Mexican actor and singer. Hailed as one of the greatest actors of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, he is considered an idol of the Latin American people, together with Jorge Negrete and Javier Solís, who were styled as the Tres Gallos Mexicanos (the Three Mexican Roosters). Infante was born in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico and was raised in Guamúchil. He died on 15 April 1957, in Mérida, Yucatán, in a plane crash during a flight en route to Mexico City.
His film career began in 1939 with him appearing in more than 60 films, and starting in 1943, he recorded about 350 songs. For his performance in the movie Tizoc, he was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival.
Childhood and early career
Son of Delfino Infante García (24 December 1880 – 17 March 1955) who played the double bass in a band, and Maria Del Refugio Cruz Aranda (4 July 1890 – ?). He was the third of fifteen children, of which nine survived. Although the Infante Cruz family stayed for some time at Mazatlán, in the early 1919 they moved to Guamuchil. Later in 1920, they moved to Rosario, Sinaloa.
His wife María Luisa León (1918 – 27 October 1978, cardiac arrest), who was somewhat well-off economically and according to her memoir Pedro Infante: en la intimidad conmigo (1961) (Pedro Infante: with me in intimacy), convinced him of the need to move to Mexico City where they would find opportunities for this talented young man.
In Mexico City, he sang the songs of composers including Alberto Cervantes (Alberto Raúl Cervantes González ), José Alfredo Jiménez, Cuco Sánchez, Tomás Méndez, Rubén Fuentes, Salvador Flores Rivera (Chava Flores), Rene Touzet and others. His first musical recording El Soldado Raso (The Soldier) was made on 19 November 1943, for the Peerless Records Company. Infante first appeared as an extra in the movie En un Burro Tres Baturros (Three Men from Aragon on a Donkey), literally translated as "On a Donkey, Three Baturros'"'. His career as an actor in leading roles started with La Feria de Las Flores (The Fair of Flowers), literally translated as "The Flower Carnival" in 1943. In that same year, a friend and neighbor of Infantes' wife, Carmen Barajas Sandoval, offered to introduce them to Jorge Negrete, a singer whom he admired. Barajas, who knew people in the business as she was the aunt of the child actress Angélica María, worked then at The Sindicat Of Workers of the Movies Production, S.T.P.C. (Workers of the Cinematographic Production Union). She succeeded in convincing Negrete to recommend Infante to the producer Ismael Rodríguez, and others. As a result, he was invited to appear in different pictures, such as Vuelve el Ametralladora (The Machine Gun Returns)
While married to María Luisa León, he met the dancer Lupita Torrentera Bablot (b. November 2, 1931), with whom he had three children, Graciela Margarita (b. September 26, 1947 – January 20, 1949, poliomyelitis) Pedro Infante Jr. (March 31, 1950 – April 1, 2009, pneumonia) and Guadalupe Infante Torrentera (b. October 3, 1951), solidifying his reputation as a ladies' man. Irma Infante (b. March 27, 1955) was born from his relationship with the young actress Irma Dorantes (real name: Irma Aguirre Martínez; b. Mérida, Yucatán, December 21, 1934) whom he met when she was only 16 years of age. Irma Infante has had a career as an actress and a singer.
His natural talent for acting was produced evident in such pictures as:
- Tizoc, along with María Félix, gained him the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival. The film itself won a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film (Mexico) in 1958. Both awards still exist, the Silver Bear is located in Ismael Rodriguez's (Pedro's friend and director) home in Mexico City, the Golden Globe is located at the Pedro Infante Museum in Campeche, Mexico.
- The massive migration from the countryside to the cities (mostly to Mexico City) during the 1940s fed the required labor force for rising manufacturing industries. This urbanization created the "working neighborhoods" and the culture of "la vecindad" (group of small apartments around a common patio), and found in Pedro Infante an identifiable icon for these, the new urban working class, with his character Pepe el Toro (Pepe the Bull) in the melodramatic trilogy made up of Nosotros los pobres, Ustedes los ricos, and Pepe el Toro (We the Poor, You the Rich, and Pepe the Bull), costarring with Evita Muñoz "Chachita".
- He worked with Sara García ("Mexico's grandmother") in many movies for Mexican cinema. Sara Garcia frequently played the role of his loving but "no nonsense" grandmother in their movies together, in which she constantly tried to get him to behave, but never succeeded.
- If that same urbanizing population had the nostalgia for the rural life, and with it the popularity of ranchera music and the idealized charro, it was not until he played the poor carpenter with a strong chilango (Mexico City) accent that Pedro Infante achieved a status, at least in Mexico, at the same level of celebrity such as Cantinflas, the Soler Brothers and even Jorge Negrete and María Félix. Despite that, he kept on playing the role of the charro and even the northern Mexican rancher (perhaps his most authentic character) in Ahí viene Martín Corona (Here comes Martín Corona) in 1951 and Los hijos de María Morales (The Sons of María Morales) in 1952. When Jorge Negrete died in 1953, Pedro was no longer in the shadow of the international idol, even though Pedro was very affected by the disappearance of his idol. During his burial service some saw him slightly inebriated, a rare sight given that Infante was not a drinker.
- The Mexican child star María Eugenia Llamas, who was only four at the time, made her screen debut with him in the 1948 movie classic, "Los Tres Huastecos" ("The Three Men from Hausteca") as "La Tucita", a screen name she has used ever since. She played with him again under the screen name La Tucita in his classic 1949 film comedy, "Dicen que Soy un Mujeriego" ("They Say I am a Womanizer").
- One of his better roles was that of Juventino Rosas in the movie "Sobre las Olas" ("Over the Waves"), based on the life of the Mexican waltz composer. Infante's natural musical abilities contributed to helping him to get into character.
- An important point in his career as an actor was winning the Ariel Award given by the Mexican Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences for Best Actor for his role in La Vida No Vale Nada (Life is Worth Nothing, a line from the song Camino de Guanajuato).
Some of his most popular songs include: Amorcito Corazón (approximately My Little Love and Heart), Te Quiero Así (I Love You Like This), La Que Se Fue (She Who Left), Corazón (Heart), El Durazno (The Peach), Dulce Patria (Sweet Fatherland), Maldita Sea Mi Suerte (Cursed Be My Luck), Así Es La vida (Life Is Like This), Mañana Rosalía (Tomorrow Rosalía), Mi Cariñito (My Little Darling), Dicen Que Soy Mujeriego (They Say I Am A Womanizer), Carta a Eufemia (Letter to Eufemia), Nocturnal, Cien Años (Hundred Years), Flor Sin Retoño (Flower Without Sprout), Pénjamo, and ¿Qué Te Ha Dado Esa Mujer? (What Has That Woman Given You?). He sang "Mi Cariñito" to his frequent on screen grandmother, Sara Garcia, so many times in so many of their movies together, that it was played at her funeral.
The world famous song Bésame Mucho ("Kiss Me a Lot", or more loosely translated to get its elusive Spanish meaning closer to its English meaning, "Give Me a Lot of Kisses"), from the composer Consuelo Velázquez, was the only melody that he recorded in English and he interpreted it in the movie A Toda Máquina (ATM) (At Full Speed), with Luis Aguilar.
By then, Pedro Infante had already created his characteristic mariachi shout
Death and homages
Infante was a fanatic of aviation, a hobby that would lead to his death. According to Wilbert Alonzo-Cabrera, his biographer, the actor was piloting a Consolidated Aircraft X B-24-D (a variant of the B-24 Liberator), which had been converted from heavy bomber war airplane to air cargo in San Diego, California. The plane crashed 5 minutes after taking off from Mérida, Yucatán, in southeast Mexico.
The death of Pedro Infante on the morning of 15 April 1957, was announced by radio personality Húmberto Sánchez-Rodríguez, of radio station XEMH of Mérida, after one of the firefighters discovered the bracelet engraved with the name "Pedro Infante", plus the winged insignia that symbolized his aviator license. This was around 8:15 am; at 11:12 am, Manuel Bernal, of Mexico City radio station XEW, gave the news saying: "this Monday, 15 April 1957, Pedro, our beloved Pedro...this has been confirmed, has died in a tragic accident in Mérida, Yucatán".
Year after year Pedro Infante attracts a great number of fans of every age to his shrine in the Panteón Jardín of Mexico City, as well as one at 54th through 87th streets in the center of Mérida. Pedro Infante died amongst friends: mechanic Marciano Bautista, and copilot Manuel Vidal. Many friends, family and fans still dress up as the characters that he played in film: Pedro Chávez, Pepe el Toro, Tizoc and a number of people incarnated from the Mexican culture that Infante symbolized. His fans honor him every year with a mass, honor guards, music and the songs made famous by the Idol of Guamúchil. Until now they have all been spontaneous, without any official authority or institution organizing them.
Four statues have been erected in his honor. The one in Mexico City was made out of thousands of bronze keys donated by his fans to a Mexico City TV station after a request by TV director Raúl Velasco. For the statue in Mérida another TV presenter (Manuel Pelayo) made a request and received keys. The third statue is in his birthplace, Mazatlán, Sinaloa. At the Paseo de Olas Altas at Mazatlán there is a statue of Pedro Infante on a motorcycle, in honor of his role in the movie A Toda Máquina ("ATM") with Luis Aguilar and "¿Qué te ha dado esa mujer?" also with Luis Aguilar, Rosita Arenas and Carmen Montejo. The fourth statue is in the town square of Guamúchil, his adopted home town.
The Mexican idol died intestate. Because of this, the main beneficiaries of his legacy have been the producers of the extremely successful movies in which he starred, as well as the "Peerless" music company  (now associated with Warner Music), and thanks to the large income his pictures and songs still generate, they are the ones who have contributed greatly to promoting and updating him.
He represented not only the fun-loving and partying charro, but also the urban hero of the working class, and it was this character that won him the love and admiration of the public in Mexico and other countries, such as Venezuela and Guatemala.
According to producer Jorge Madrid y Campos, who was also his legal representative, Pedro Infante's fame has increased greatly since his death. The presence of so many admirers at his shrine on the anniversary of his death is remarkable, as are the musical tributes from singers of the ranchera and mariachi genres that pay homage to him. As Mexican American author, Denise Chavez, in her book "Loving Pedro Infante" put it humorously, "If you're a [Mexican], and don't know who he is, you should be tied to a hot stove with a yucca rope and beaten with sharp dry corn husks as you stand in a vat of soggy fideos. If your racial and cultural background or ethnicity is other, then it's about time you learned about the most famous of Mexican singers and actors."
Some fans have speculated that his death was faked. These rumors were fueled by, among other factors, the fact that Infante's body was burned beyond recognition in the airplane crash, and by the appearance, in the 1980s, of a man named Antonio Pedro, who was thought to have some resemblance to Infante.
- El organillero (The Organ Grinder) (1939)
- En un burro tres baturros (Three Men of Aragon on a Donkey) (1939)
- Puedes irte de mí (You Can Leave Me) (1940)
- Jesusita en Chihuahua (Jesusita in Chihuahua) (1942)
- La razón de la culpa (The Reason Of The Blame) (1942)
- La feria de las flores (The Fair of Flowers) (1942)
- Arriba las mujeres (Hooray for Women) (1943)
- Cuando habla el corazón (When The Heart Speaks) (1943)
- El Ametralladora (The Machine Gun) (1943)
- ¡Viva mi desgracia! (Long Live My Bad Luck!) (1943)
- Mexicanos al grito de guerra (Mexicans at the Cry of War) (1943)
- Escándalo de estrellas (The Stars' Scandal) (1944)
- Cuando lloran los valientes (When The Brave Cry) (1945)
- Si me han de matar mañana (Should They Kill Me Tomorrow) (1946)
- Los tres Garcías (The Three Garcías) (1946)
- Vuelven los García (The Garcías Return) (1946)
- Soy charro de Rancho Grande (I Am a Charro Of Rancho Grande) (1947)
- Nosotros los pobres (We The Poor) (1947)
- La barca de oro (The Golden Boat) (1947)
- Cartas marcadas (Marked Cards) (1947)
- Ustedes los ricos (You The Rich) (1948)
- Dicen que soy mujeriego (They Say I'm A Womanizer) (1948)
- Los tres huastecos (The Three Huastecos) (1948)
- Angelitos negros (Little Black Angels) (1948)
- La oveja negra (The Black Sheep) (1949)
- No desearás la mujer de tu hijo (You Shall Not Covet Thy Son's Wife) (1949)
- La mujer que yo perdí (The Woman That I Lost) (1949)
- El seminarista (The Seminarian) (1949)
- Sobre las olas (Over the Waves)
- El gavilán pollero (The Chickenhawk) (1950)
- Las mujeres de mi general (My General's Women) (1951)
- También de dolor se canta (One Also Sings From Pain) (1950)
- Islas Marías (María Islands) (1951)
- A toda máquina (Full Speed Ahead)(1951)
- ¡¿Qué te ha dado esa mujer?! (What Has That Woman Done to You?) (1951)
- Ahí viene Martín Corona (There Comes Martín Corona) (1951)
- Necesito dinero (I Need Money) (1951)
- El enamorado (The Lover) (1951)
- Un rincón cerca del cielo (A Place Near Heaven) (1952)
- Ahora soy rico (Now I Am Rich) (1952)
- Dos tipos de cuidado (Two Guys To Be Afraid Of) (1952)
- Por ellas aunque mal paguen (For Them Although They Pay Badly) (1952)
- Ansiedad (Anxiety) (1952)
- Sí, mi vida (Yes, My Dear) (1952)
- Había una vez un marido (There Once Was A Husband) (1952)
- Pepe el toro (Pepe The Bull) (1952)
- Los hijos de María Morales (The Sons Of María Morales) (1952)
- Gitana tenías que ser (You Had To Be a Gypsy) (1953)
- Reportaje (News Article) (1953)
- Cuidado con el amor (Beware With Love) (1954)
- Los gavilanes (The Sparrowhawks) (1954)
- Pueblo, canto y esperanza (People, Song And Hope) (1954)
- Escuela de vagabundos (School of Vagabonds) (1954)
- El mil amores (The Thousands Lover) (1954)
- La vida no vale nada (Life's Worth Nothing) (1954)
- Escuela de música (School Of Music) (1955)
- La tercera palabra (The Third Word) (1955)
- El inocente (The Innocent) (1956)
- Pablo and Carolina (1957)
- Tizoc (1957)
- Escuela de rateros (School Of Thieves) (1957)
- IMDB Profile
- CONACULTA profile
- "Berlinale 1957: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
- La Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León
- (Spanish) La Abuelita del Cine Nacional - Sara Garcia
- Refrendan cientos su cariño a Pedro Infante, a 49 años de su fallecimiento
- Chavez, Denise, "Loving Pedro Infante", Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, (2001), p. 5. This author states: "Some people call [Pedro Infante] the Bing Crosby of Mexico, but he's more, much more than that. He was bigger than Bing Crosby or even Elvis Presley."
- Chavez, Denise, "Loving Pedro Infante", Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, (2001), p. 5.
- (Spanish) Jose Ernesto Infante Quintanilla, "Pedro Infante -- El Idolo Imortal", Editorial Oceano de Mexico, S.A. De C.V.(2006) p. 162.
- "Mitos de la muerte de Pedro Infante". Azteca Noticias (in Spanish). TV Azteca. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.