Pedro Infante Cruz
18 November 1917
|Died||15 April 1957 (aged 39)|
Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
|Cause of death||Plane crash|
Maria Luisa Leon
(m. 1937; div. 1942)
|Children||6; including Pedro Infante Torrentera|
|Relatives||Lupita Infante (grandchild)|
Pedro Infante Cruz (Spanish: [ˈpeðɾo iɱˈfante]; 18 November 1917 – 15 April 1957) was a popular Mexican actor and ranchera singer, whose career spanned over two decades, and whose fame and popularity also spread to other Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Guatemala and Peru, having appeared in multiple movies during the golden age of Mexican cinema.
Infante was born in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, but raised in nearby Guamúchil. He died on 15 April 1957 in Mérida, Yucatán, in a plane crash during a flight en route to Mexico City, after an engine failed on takeoff. His remains were later identified by a gold bracelet that was found.
His film career began in 1939 with him appearing in more than 60 films – 30 of them with his brother Ángel Infante, and starting in 1943 he recorded over 350 songs. For his performance in the movie Tizoc, he was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Actor posthumously at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival.
Childhood and early career
Pedro Infante was the 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. He was the third of fifteen children, of whom nine survived. Although the Infante Cruz family stayed for some time at Mazatlán, in early 1919 they moved to Guamúchil. In 1920 they moved to El Rosario, Sinaloa. As a teen, Infante showed talent and affection for music, and even made his own guitar in a carpenter shop, played in the Luis Ibarra Orchestra led by his father, and formed his own band called La Rabia (The Anger) in 1933. He managed to learn strings, wind, and percussion instruments in a short time, having received music lessons from Carlos R. Hubbard.
In addition, he won a charro suit in an amateur contest at the Colonial Theater, singing Vereda Tropical.In 1937 he became part of the Orquesta Estrella de Culiacán (Culiacán Star Orchestra), as a singer as well as violinist and drummer, for a year and a half.
His wife, María Luisa León, who died of cardiac arrest on 27 October 1978, was somewhat well-off, economically. According to her memoir Pedro Infante en la intimidad conmigo (1961) (Pedro Infante in intimacy with me), she convinced him of the need to move to Mexico City to find better career opportunities in radio. In 1938, at the age of 21, he auditioned for a position at the radio station XEB with Julián Morán accompanying him on piano. Ernesto Belloc who was the station's artistic director at the time, advised him that he had better continue his career as a carpenter as Infante had been nervous during the audition. The following week they allowed him to audition again, this time being hired to sing three times a week on the air.
In Mexico City, he sang the songs of composers including Alberto Cervantes, José Alfredo Jiménez, Cuco Sánchez, Tomás Méndez, Rubén Fuentes, (some of the most renowned composers from the golden age of Mexican Cinema) Salvador Flores Rivera (Chava Flores) (better known for his humorous songs), René Touzet and others. His first musical recording El Soldado Raso (The Private) 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), or the more correct and succinct transliteration, "Three Baturros on a Burro". 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 Infante's 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 Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Producción Cinematográfica, S.T.P.C. (Union of Cinema Production Workers). 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, Infante met the dancer Lupita Torrentera Bablot (b. 2 November 1931), with whom he had three children: Graciela Margarita (26 September 1947 – 20 January 1949, poliomyelitis), Pedro Infante Jr. (31 March 1950 – 1 April 2009, suicide), and Guadalupe Infante Torrentera (b. 3 October 1951). Irma Infante (b. 27 March 1955) was born from his marriage to young actress Irma Dorantes.
Infante appeared in such motion pictures as:
- Tizoc, along with María Félix, gained him the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival, posthumously. The film itself won a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film (Mexico) in 1958. The Silver Bear and the Golden Globe are housed at the Museo API de Pedro Infante in Isla Arena, Campeche, Mexico, as well as the Ariel award.
- 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 Negrete's 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 film Los tres huastecos (The Three Men from Hausteca) as "La Tucita", a screen name she used ever since. She played with him again under the screen name La Tucita in his classic 1949 film comedy, "Dicen que soy 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).
Waltzes, cha-cha-chas, rancheras and boleros placed him among the most popular singers of the mariachi and ranchera music. Some of his most popular songs include: Amorcito Corazón (approximately My Little Love, Sweetheart), 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.
Death and homages
Infante's hobby was aviation, logging 2,989 flight hours, under the pseudonym Captain Cruz, which then led to his death on the morning of 15 April 1957. Infante had survived two prior plane crashes, the first one occurred in 1947, and another in 1949 in which he had received an injury to his forehead that that left him with a metal plate. According to Wilbert Alonzo-Cabrera, his biographer, the actor was co-piloting a Consolidated B-24D, which had been converted from heavy bomber to freighter in San Diego, California. On the day of the crash, he was on his way to Mexico City from Mérida, Yucatán to challenge the ruling that annulled his marriage with Irma Dorantes. The air traffic controller, Carmen León, was the last person to hear Infante's voice.The plane crashed five minutes after taking off from Mérida, Yucatán, in southeast Mexico. An engine failed on takeoff, causing the plane to spiral to the ground, killing two on the ground as well as all three on the plane, Infante, pilot Víctor Manuel Vidal Lorca and Marcial Bautista. A 19 year old woman named Ruth Russell Chan, who was on the ground at the time of the crash, also died.
Infante's death was announced by radio personality Húmberto Sánchez-Rodríguez, of radio station XEMH of Mérida, after one of the firefighters discovered a 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". Additional identification was done during the autopsy by Benjamín Góngora, from the metal plate in Infante's forehead that he received after his injuries in the 1949 crash.
Two days later he was laid to rest at the Pateón Jardín cemetery amid 300,000 people who had come for the gathered to the closed casket funeral after tribute at the Jorge Negrete Theater. Rodolfo Echeverría, who was Secretary-General of the National Actors Association at that time, delivered Infante's eulogy.
Year after year, 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 and 87th streets in the historic center of Mérida. Infante died along with mechanic Marciano Bautista, and Captain Victor Manuel Vidal.
In 1983, the radio state KWKW, located in Los Angeles, CA, who was at the time broadcasting a Pedro Infante hour that aired songs as well as readings of fan letters, organized a campaign to change one of Boyle Heights street names to Pedro Infante Street. Later it was decided Euclid Heights would become Pedro Infante street, and the unveiling of the street sign was in August of 1983.
Infante was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 1, 1993. His star is located at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard.
On April 2, 2001, Infante was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in an awards ceremony that also included Xavier Cugat and Ruben Blades. The event was held at the Hostos Center For The Arts And Culture, located in the Bronx, New York City, NY.
There are five museums dedicated to his life and career:
- Hotel Boulevard Infante, Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico – Located at Avenida Itzáes #587 in Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico there is a small gallery dedicated to Infante's life and career called "Amorcito Corazon" in the Hotel Boulevard Infante. The building was formerly Infante's residence, acquired by him in 1954 and was where he lived with Irma Dorantes up to his death. The 80 room air-conditioned building, was turned into a hotel in 1959.
- Pedro Infante API Museo, Calkini, Campeche, Mexico – Inaugurated on February 16, 2012, the Pedro Infante API Museo is located in the Isla Arena Lighthouse and houses Infante's Silver Bear and Golden Globe awards as well as costume replicas and film contracts.
- Museo del Centro Cultural Nacional Pedro Infante (Museum of the Pedro Infante National Cultural Center), Cuajimalpa, Mexico City, Mexico – Inaugurated on March 1, 2015, this museum houses costumes worn by Infante in three of his films: Pepe el Toro, A toda carga, Tizoc and Los tres huastecos as well as music, singing and performance workshops.
- El Rincón de Pedro Infante (Pedro Infante Corner), Mazatlán, Sinaloa – Located at his birthplace, in the house he lived in as a young child, the Pedro Infante Corner houses Costumes, posters and photographs. The museum is located at 88 Constitution St in Mazatlán.
- Museo a Pedro Infante – In 2017, a museum was opened in Guamúchil to commemorate Pedro Infante's career called Museo a Pedro Infante (Pedro Infante Museum) that contains a Jeep owned by Infante as well as other personal articles that belonged to him as well as movie and music memorabilia that pertain to his career.
At least five statues have been erected in Pedro Infante's honor:
- In Mexico City, Infante is depicted on a rearing horse and is the work of Yucatecan sculptor Humberto Peraza y Ojeda, and is located where many believe he died in the plane crash, at 45th and 85th streets.This statue was made out of thousands of bronze keys donated by his fans to a Mexico City TV station after a key drive by TV host and producer Raúl Velasco.
- At the Paseo de Olas Altas at Mazatlán, Sinaloa (Infante's birthplace) there is a statue of Pedro Infante on a motorcycle, in honor of his role in the movie A Toda Máquina with Luis Aguilar and "¿Qué te ha dado esa mujer?" also with Luis Aguilar, Rosita Arenas and Carmen Montejo.
- In Mérida, there is a bust of Infante at the site of the location of his fatal airplane crash, at the intersection of 54th and 87th Streets.
- In Guamúchil, at the Museo a Pedro Infante, he is depicted as a singer, wearing his traditional charro suit, with a guitar by his side. This statue is in the town square of Guamúchil, his adopted home town.
- In Mérida, there is another statue of Infante on a motorcycle that also displays him in his role in A Toda Máquina, which was sculpted by Ariel de la Peña. For the statue in Mérida there was another key drive by La Más Perrona radio station for bronze keys to be used in the statue. The statue was erected in 2008 after a convoy through city streets that drew attention from many onlookers.
- Also in Mérida there is a statue of Infante seated on a park bench with a guitar by his side, and his arm outsretched and was erected in 2017 for what would have been his 100th birthday. The statue is located in a park that bears his name.
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 Chávez, 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 resemblance to Infante.
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- En un burro tres baturros (Three Men of Aragon on a Donkey) (1939) – Minor Role
- El organillero (The Organ Grinder) (1939, Short)
- Puedes irte de mí (You Can Leave Me) (1940, Short) – Orchestra Director
- Jesusita en Chihuahua (Jesusita in Chihuahua) (1942) – Valentín Terrazas
- La feria de las flores (The Fair of Flowers) (1943) – Rosendo, amigo de Valentín
- La razón de la culpa (The Reason of the Blame) (1943) – Roberto
- Arriba las mujeres (Hooray for Women) (1943) – Chuy
- El Ametralladora (The Machine Gun) (1943) – Salvador Pérez Gómez 'El Ametralladora'
- Mexicanos al grito de guerra (Mexicans at the Cry of War) (1943) – Lt. Luis Sandoval
- Cuando habla el corazón (When The Heart Speaks) (1943) – Miguel del Campo
- ¡Viva mi desgracia! (Long Live My Bad Luck!) (1944) – Ramón Pineda
- Escándalo de estrellas (The Stars' Scandal) (1944) – Ricardo del Valle y Rosales
- Cuando lloran los valientes (When The Brave Cry) (1947) – Agapito Treviño 'Caballo Blanco'
- Si me han de matar mañana (Should They Kill Me Tomorrow) (1947) – Ramiro del Campo
- La barca de oro (The Golden Boat) (1947) – Lorenzo
- Los tres Garcías (The Three Garcías) (1947) – Luis Antonio García
- Soy charro de Rancho Grande (I Am a Charro Of Rancho Grande) (1947) – Antonio Aldama
- Vuelven los García (The Garcías Return) (1947) – Luis Antonio García
- Nosotros los Pobres (We The Poor) (1948) – Jose del Toro, 'Pepe el toro'
- Cartas marcadas (Marked Cards) (1948) – Manuel
- Los tres huastecos (The Three Huastecos) (1948) – Juan de Dios Andrade / Lorenzo Andrade / Víctor Andrade
- Angelitos negros (Little Black Angels) (1948) – José Carlos Ruiz
- Ustedes los ricos (You The Rich) (1948) – Pepe 'El Toro'
- Dicen que soy mujeriego (They Say I'm A Womanizer) (1949) – Pedro Dosamantes
- La mujer que yo perdí (The Woman That I Lost) (1949) – Pedro Montaño
- El seminarista (The Seminarian) (1949) – Miguel Morales
- La oveja negra (The Black Sheep) (1949) – Silvano
- No desearás la mujer de tu hijo (You Shall Not Covet Thy Son's Wife) (1950) – Silvano
- También de dolor se canta (One Also Sings From Pain) (1950) – Braulio Peláez
- Sobre las olas (Over the Waves) (1950) – Juventino Rosas
- El gavilán pollero (The Chickenhawk) (1951) – José Inocencio Meléndez 'El Gavilán'
- Las mujeres de mi general (My General's Women) (1951) – General Juan Zepeda
- Islas Marías (María Islands) (1951) – Felipe Ortiz Suárez
- Necesito dinero (I Need Money) (1951) – Manuel
- A toda máquina (Full Speed Ahead) (1951) – Pedro Chávez
- ¡¿Qué te ha dado esa mujer?! (What Has That Woman Done to You?) (1951) – Pedro Chávez Pérez
- Ahí viene Martín Corona (There Comes Martín Corona) (1952) – Martín Corona
- Los hijos de María Morales (The Sons Of María Morales) (1952) – José Morales (Pepe)
- Por ellas aunque mal paguen (For Them Although They Pay Badly) (1952) – Pedro
- Un rincón cerca del cielo (A Place Near Heaven) (1952) – Pedro González
- Ahora soy rico (Now I Am Rich) (1952) – Pedro González
- El enamorado (The Lover) (1952) – Martín Corona
- Penjamo (1953) – Cantante (uncredited)
- Había una vez un marido (There Once Was A Husband) (1953) – Pedro Infante
- Sí, mi vida (Yes, My Dear) (1952)
- Pepe el toro (Pepe The Bull) (1952) – Pepe 'El Toro'
- Ansiedad (Anxiety) (1953) – Carlos Iturbe y Valdivia / Gabriel Lara / Rafael Lara
- Dos tipos de cuidado (Two Guys To Be Afraid Of) (1953) – Pedro Malo
- Reportaje (News Article) (1953) – Edmundo Bernal
- Gitana tenías que ser (You Had To Be a Gypsy) (1953) – Pablo Mendoza
- El mil amores (The Thousand Lover) (1954) – Bibiano Villarreal
- Cuidado con el amor (Beware With Love) (1954) – Salvador Allende
- Escuela de vagabundos (School of Vagabonds) (1954) – José Alberto Medina
- La vida no vale nada (Life's Worth Nothing) (1954) – Pablo Galván
- Escuela de música (School Of Music) (1955) – Javier Prado
- Los gavilanes (The Sparrowhawks) (1956) – Juan Menchaca
- Pueblo, canto y esperanza (People, Song And Hope) (1956) – Lencho Jiménez (mexican episode)
- La tercera palabra (The Third Word) (1956) – Pablo Saldaña
- El inocente (The Innocent) (1956) – Cutberto Gaudázar 'Cruci'
- Pablo and Carolina (1957) – Pablo Garza
- Tizoc (1957) – Tizoc
- Escuela de rateros (School of Thieves) (1958) – Víctor Valdés / Raúl Cuesta Hernández (final film role)
In popular culture
In 2017, for what would have been Infante's 100th birthday, his life and career was celebrated with a Google Doodle that featured a slideshow with six graphics depicting Infante wearing traditional Mariachi garb, as a singer, a boxer as well as others.
- Ariel Award – for his role in La Vida No Vale Nada (Life is Worthless) in 1956.
- Silver Bear for Best Actor – for the Tizoc at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival, (posthumously) in 1957.
- Golden Globe Award – for the Best Foreign Film (Mexico) in 1958 for the movie Tizoc
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- "Recuerdan sus hijos y cientos de yucatecos a Pedro Infante (His children and hundreds of Yucatecans remember Pedro Infante)". La Cronica de Hoy. Mexico City, Mexico. 15 April 2008.
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- Arias, Sheila (15 September 2017). "Quieren cambiar monumento a Pedro Infante en Mazatlán; que no se parece, dicen (They want to change Pedro Infante's monument in Mazatlán; that does not look like, it does not look like him)". Noreste. Sinaloa, México. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
- "Con sólo un busto recuerdan sitio donde murió Pedro Infante (With only a bust they remember the plate Pedro Infante died)". El Universal. Mexico City, Mexico. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
- Cruz Barcenas, Arturo (27 January 2007). "La Hora de Pedro Infante; el más largo homenaje: 55 años al aire (The Pedro Infante Hour; the longest tribute; 55 years on the air". La Jornada. Mexico City, Mexico. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
- "Pedro Infante "desfila" en moto (Pedro Infante "parades" on a motorcycle)". Vanguardia. Saltillo, Coahuila. 6 April 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
- Rodríguez, Yazmín. "Inauguran parque en honor a Pedro Infante en Mérida (Park inaugurated in honor of Pedro Infante in Mérida)". El Universal. Mexico City, Mexico. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Univision.com". Retrieved 3 February 2018.
- Chavez, Denise, "Loving Pedro Infante", Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, (2001), pg. 5.
- (Spanish) Jose Ernesto Infante Quintanilla, "Pedro Infante – El Idolo Imortal", Editorial Oceano de Mexico, S.A. De C.V.(2006) pg. 162.
- "Mitos de la muerte de Pedro Infante". Azteca Noticias (in Spanish). TV Azteca. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
- Moreno, Denisse (18 November 2017). "Who Is Pedro Infante? Google Doodle Celebrates Legend's 100th Birthday". International Business Times. New York, NY, USA. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- Cobo, Leila (18 November 2017). "5 Things to Know About Pedro Infante, Today's Google Doodle". Billboard Magazine. New York, NY, USA. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- Beauregard, Luis Pablo (20 November 2017). "Mexico wowed by Pixar's Day of the Dead tribute 'Coco'". El Pais. Madrid, Spain. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
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