Archive for August, 2011

1933, August 31 – BIRTH OF SUSY LEIVA

Her life, like that of Julio Sosa, was cut short in a tragic car accident…like Julio Sosa she was at the height of her career…she was 33 years old; Julio had been 38…Susy was born in Buenos Aires and raised in Mendoza where she began singing as a teenager on Radio Nihil…her first break occurred when she was invited to sing on Radio Belgrano where she garnered great acclaim…a key event in her career occurred on May 1, 1954 where at an annual convention of unions, presided over by Juan Peron, she won “Miss Workers’ Day”… she made a splash on the populat TV show “Casino Philip” and was later invited to join the Juan Canaro orchestra with whom she  toured Japan and several south american countries.


In Mexico at the house of Libertad Lamarque,  Mariano Mores happened to be present and an impromptu performance impressed him so much that he asked her to join his orchestra…she began to sing his composition “Frente al Mar” which catapulted her to great fame and was to become her trademark tango…returning from a performance in Rosario, with her husband at the wheel, they crashed into a trailer hitch and she died instantly…she will be remembered for her special interpretation of “El Patio De La Morocha” and “Sombras Nada Mas”…she starred in three films including the celebrated “Buenas Noches Buenos Aires” directed by Hugo Del Carril which premiered in 1964



The tenderness which he poured on his grand daughter “Zoe” was part of the simplicity and generosity which helped make him a beloved singer all over the world…Nestor Fabian was a devoted family man, motivated perhaps by the longing as a child, for the family which he never had…a tragic accident had made him an orphan and he was brought up by “Dona Rosa” who, with love and devotion, helped heal his pain…however his adoptive family was poor and he had to leave to school to work in a bag factory…during rare moments of leisure he listened to his idol Carlos Gardel…he loved to sing and would imitate the singers on Radio Belgrano to which he was totally devoted…on free nights he would sing in local bars and cafes of his San Telmo neighborhood for donations….his big break came at the age of 23 when his friend Norberto Aroldi arranged an audition for him with Maestro Mariano Mores…


To his astonishment he was hired and found himself singing with an orchestra of 40 musicians; it was a dream come true…on August 30, 1961, he debuted on the popular program “Luces De Buenos Aires” on Channel 7 with “La Noche De Mi Amore”…the response was overwhelming and it launched his career….a career which included fabulously popular concerts in the Soviet Union in 1974 with the Attilo Stampone Orchestra and in 1988 a renown concert in Granada Spain…he starred in a number of films including “Buenas Noches Buenos Aires” where performed alongside Virginia Luque, Julio Sosa and Anibal Troilo….in “Los Muchachos De Antes No Usan Gomina” he first sang his hit “Tiempos Viejos”…he first met the popular singer Violeta Rivas in 1964 on the set of the TV drama “Todo Es Amor” …three years later their marriage became a major social event


2002, August 29 – PREMIERE OF “FRIDA”

“I penetrate the sex of the whole earth…its heat embraces me and in my body everything feels like the freshness of tender leaves …it’s dew is the sweat of an always new lover …it is not love, nor affection, it is the whole of life”…thus wrote Frida Kahlo in her diary during recovery from one of her numerous surgerys and three heart breaking miscarriages…at age 18 the bus she was riding collided with a trolley and a piece of metal entered her pelvis and exited at her vagina; her back was broken in three places…miraculously she survived and she poured her pain and disappointment into her paintings…in the latter part of her life the suffering increased; first her foot was amputated and then her leg and then numerous operations on her back, courageously she wrote, “feet, what do I need them for when I have wings”…but bedridden for a year she was deeply depressed and contemplated suicide but she stayed on for Diego Rivera who needed her maternal sustenance …she knew she was dying and wrote, “I hope to exit with joy and to never come back”…she was fascinating and seductive and enchanted the likes of Picasso and Andre Breton…


She seduced Leon Trotsky who had sought asylum in Mexico; shortly after he was murdered by Stalin’s agents…it was not entirely clear that she and Diego had not been involved in the assassination…Diego had told her that he was a womanizer when they married and she accepted it; she had her own affairs with both men and women…but when she discovered the affair with her own sister, it was more than she could handle….they divorced and she turned to alcohol…eventually they both realized that they irrevocably bonded and remarried…interestingly, both Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were descendants of jews; she on her father’s side from Hungarian Jews who had immigrated to Germany and then Mexico…Diego was the descendant of Spanish nobility which had been “marranos”; jews who had pretended to convert to Catholicism…Salma Hayek, who played Frida in the film, believed passionately in the project and struggles for eight years to have it produced…it also starred Mia Maestro who had starred in Carlos Sauras “Tango” in 1998, Antonio Banderas and  Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera…the film, which was nominated for six oscars, includes a very sensual scene where Frida dances a tango with another woman



Singer, Lyricist, Actor (Virgo) – frail and 84 years old, with a serene face and in his last breath, he said, “I have walked upon the roads of tango…I have lived it with body and soul…It is who I am”…his only regret was not being able to see for the last time his beloved city of Rosario, Argentina which laid 35oo miles away from Caracas where he spent his last years…he remembered his mother sewing and sighing; she had died young and he had had to quit school to help support the family…his father, a municipal laborer and part-time trainer of fighting cocks had always encouraged his musical talents…in time Agustin Irusta would come to know the delights of fame and fortune traveling the world singing tango; indeed, perhaps no other tango singer had success in as many countries as he did..acting in school plays, he had developed a passion for singing and acting; a mentor later on would advise him to devote himself to singing…his first forays among the public happened in his neighborhood bars and cafes where he sang for donations; one of his early breaks came when the fiery anarchist Lorenzo Lamarque, the father of Libertad Lamarque, asked him to join his theater company


Later on, at Radio Cultura, his singing was backed up by a temperamental young pianist, Carlos Di Sarli…at the age of 23 he made his first recording with another young singer, Roberto Fugazot…the turning point in his life, occurred when Francisco Canaro invited him to come to Paris to sing with his orchestra; Agustin never forgot the magical moment of laying eyes on a city which at the time was the center of the cultural and artistic world, “I could not belive that it was me…it was bigger than my imagination”, he was to write in his memoirs…there fate led him to inadvertently team up with Roberto Fugazot and Lucio Demare to create the legendary “Trio Argentino” which was to have great success for many years…besides having lived in Paris and Barcelona, he lived in Mexico for four years where he was beloved by the Mexican people…his talent eventually took him to New York for long remembered appearances at the Latin Theater…he starred in a number of movies including the beloved “Ya Tiene Comisario El Pueblo”, “Puerta Cerrada” and “La Guitarra De Gardel”…he was the lyricist of highly popular tangos including “Dandy”, “Tenemos Que Abrirnos”, and “Mananitas de Montemartre




Young Fernando Ayala dreamed of an influential career as a lawyer and pursued his studies with determination…one day, a friend of renown writer and director Luis Cesar Amadori, invited him to the set of a new film “La Mentirosa” starring renown actress Nini Marshal; it was to change his life…he would recall years later how much he laughed at  the last scene where Nini’s character says “may the pictures fall off the walls, if I tell another lie” and how all the pictures came crashing down…it was at that moment that he decided to devote his life to film making…he began working as a runner in the studio and later became the assistant to renown director Francisco Mujica…


His 10 years with Mujica including experience in Cuba and Mexico earned him a glowing reputation…his first film, a short, “Ayer Fue Primavera” (yesterday was spring) was a critical success…in 1956 along with Hector Olivera, he created Aries Studios…their first film “El Jefe” was a resounding success…in his career, he would direct over 40 films and produce another 20…in “El Canto Cuenta Su Historia” he featured  some of tangos great legends including Alberto Castillo, Roberto Goyeneche, Hugo Del Carril, Enrique Cadicamo and Julio De Caro…it was the first film for Amelia Baltar who was discovered by Astor Piazzolla and who besides becoming his lover would premier his masterpiece “Ballada Para Un Loco”



Alfonso XIII was declared King of Spain at his birth in 1886…when he reached the age of 16 he took control of the state but during his honeymoon, he miraculously survived an assassination attempt in Paris when anarchist Mateu Morral launched a bomb at his car; Moral would later commit sucide as he was being captured…Alfonso’s rein had begun well; the French newspaper “Le Figaro” had described the young king as “the happiest and most beloved rulers on earth”…the night of August 26, 1929 was one of the happeist of his reign; a lover of tango, he sat in his Royal Palace of Madrid, the biggest in Europe, listening to the Manuel Buzon‘s Orchestra play “El Enterriano” and Manuel’s hit composition “Cancionero” in a much anticipated tango concert…but King Alfonso’s inept leadership including the appointment of the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, would lead to his exile just a few months after this concert and eventually the bloody Spanish Civil War


In 1924 at the age of 20 a young and struggling Manuel Buzon, a singer and piano player with big dreams, happened to notice from his house, the towers of a radio station which was being constructed…mustering up his courage he went to the station without an appointment and insisted on speaking to the manager; his bravado got him hired…that was the beginning of a storybook ascension culminating just five years later in a performance before the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII…early on Manuel demonstrated an unusual talent in music and started winning fans in the choir of his local church…At the age of eleven, along with a girl classmate, he debuted in a singing duet at the Excelsior Theater to his first standing ovation…some of his most beloved compositions includ “Calle Corazon”, “Melodia” and “Bigotito”…a contemorary of Buzon, Eduardo Bianco would dedicate his tango “Plegaria” to to King Alfonso XIII…”Plegaria” would be one of the tangos used to march concentration  camp inmates to their death and consequently become know as “the tango of death”



Oscar Aleman, composer of “Guitarra Que Llora”, was one of the greatest entertainers which Argentina has ever produced…his complex talents; guitarist, singer dancer, entertainer made him a bit Chuck Berry, Sammy Davis Jr. and even Eddie Cantor…although in his career he became a world renown jazz musician he made substantial contributions in tango….he was born to an African Argentine father and a Toba indian mother…the Tobas were a proud, fierce, hunter gatherer native group which inhabited  parts of what today in Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay….Oscar’s father was a musician whose group consisted of himself and part of his seven children; Oscar was six years old when he began performing in public….while working in Brasil, Oscar’s father committed suicide sending the family into deep crisis….but Oscar was a musical prodigy and self-taught in the guitar; his career would take him to Europe where he remained fot 10 years working with the legendary Josephine Baker who was a singer, dancer and World War II spy…Oscar eventually learned to sing in six languages


Although more of a folk singer, Agustin Magaldi was immensely popular especially with the more humble country audiences…brought up in an italian immigrant family with a strong tradition in opera, he started his career as an opera singer…he was born in the city of Casilda in the province of Santa Fe…in 1923 he moved to Buenos Aires to begin a career as a folk and tango singer helped along the way by Rosita Quiroga…he was the “estribillista” singer in the recording studio for the Donato-Zerillo  and Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestras…for 10 years he and Pedro Noda formed a renown and highly popular duo but in 1935 Magaldi launched a solo career…his most successful song was a Russian ballad, “Nieve” which was highly requested on Radio Belgrano



Singing before Edward of Windsor, the Prince of Wales was the first time that Carlos Gardel would sing without the presence of his partner Jose Razzano who had come down with a sore throat…the duo were on a European tour which had begun two years earlier….the bohemian Princess Edward liked tango; this was but one of the disappointments of his father King George V; a few years earlier, George’s cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II had banned tango calling it “a child of the curbstone”…. along with Edward’s failure to settle down in life and disgusted by his many affairs with married women, King George was reluctant to see Edward inherit the Crown, …it was one of those married lovers Lady Thelma Furness who would introduce him to the twice divorced  Wallis Simpson… her domineering manner and abrasive irreverence toward his position ensnared him; in the words of his official biographer, he became “slavishly dependent” on her…


Eventually Edward ascended the throne becoming King Edward VIII for just a few months before abdicating to marry Wallis Simpson; he was to proclaim, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility, and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.”…many rumors were born about Wallis; that she understood the passions of men and what it took to seduce when seduction was was said that it was in the orient where she was alleged to have learned dark sexual arts in brothels; one of her lovers said making love to Wallis was like going to bed with a drunk sailor…both Princes Edward and Wallis Simpson were Nazi sympathizers and there was the famous high-profile meeting with Adolf Hitler…in fact the owner of the villa Chateau de Candè where they were married, Charles Bedaux, actively worked for the Nazi’s during world war II…he committed suicide in a Miami jail awaiting trial for treason…the story of Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson inspired a popular tango in Poland, “When a King Has Fallen In Love” which was recorded in 1937


1926, August 23 – VALENTINO DEAD AT 31 !!!

Valentino did not like doctors and although his dear friend June Mathis urged him to see one for the stomach pains that ocassionally gripped him, he refused; “it’s your bad American food” he like to kid….on August 15, 1926 while staying at the Embassador Hotel in New York, as part of a promotional tour for his new film “Son Of Sheik”, he was suddenly seized by a high fever, vomiting and severe abdominal pains….he was rushed to the “Polyclinic Hospital” where he was operated on for a perforated ulcer…in recovery everything seem to be going well and in fact in a press conference, doctors gave a sunny prognosis…however, on the fifth day Valentino was suddenly seized with severe stabbing pain in the chest…doctors soon realized that a severe  infection had spread to the lungs and that he would not recover….as was the custom at the time, the knowledge of his impending death was withheld from him…speaking in gasps, he even said that he could no longer feel the incision which unfortunately was a symptom of the advance state of infection…in his frequent telegrams to Paris, to Natasha Rambova whom he had divorced the year earlier, he spoke of plans for the future and their reconciliation…a few hours later he had slipped into a coma  and died…


What had been the cause of his perforated ulcer which interestingly had also taken the lives of James Joyce and Rudyard Kipling…one possible answer was the fact that he smoked two packs of cigaretts per day; another one might have been the boxing match he had engaged in a few days earlier to assert his manhood after the Chicago Tribune, in a famous article, suggested that he was gay…apparently sugery was delayed for a few hours as surgeons were paralyzed by his celebrity status…outside, the police had cirlced the hospital to contain the throngs of women who had come to be near Valentino…that delay of a few hours may have worsen the infection to the point of no hope…his death plunged America into a nation of mourners…women wept with unashamed tears; two killed themselves that day…at his funeral services in New York, an estimated crowd of 100,000 gathered outside…when his body was brought back to Hollywood, thousands of fans stood in railroad stations across the country just to see the train as it sped past…in Los Angeles, an estimated 80,000 mourners crowded in and around the cemetery grounds…five years earlier Valentino’s performance in “The Four Horsemen and the Apocalypese” had been a major reason for the world-wide tango boom



The creator of stage show “Romance De tango” Leonardo Suarez Paz, is the son of renown violinist Fernando Suarez Paz who was recruited by Astor Piazzolla and toured with him for over 10 years…Fernando began to study violin at the age of five and in time became a first violinist with the National Symphonic Orchestra of Argentina although his father originally hoped that Fernando would become a doctor…Fernando’s talent was such that although still a teenager, he was invited to play with the legends of tango including Miguel Calo, Anibal Troilo and Fulvio Salamanca…Fernando has received enthusiastic reviews from critics throughout the world including a seven star rating from the New York Times


Inspired and encouraged by his father, Leonardo earned accolades in his own right as a musican, dancer and choreographer…Fernando is an accomplished violinist, opera and tango singer and tango dancer which he refined under the tutelage of the legendary Juan Carlos Copes…with passion and devotion, he employed all of his talents to create the critically acclaimed “Romance De Tango” featuring the dancers from his Cuartetango Music and Dance Company…the show, which premiered on August 22, 2009 at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, features six dancers, a string quartet, a bandoneónist, a pianist, and two singers…with a daring repertoir, the production incorporates all expressions of the tango art: music, poetry, song, and dance…one reviewer said of the show, “amazing dancers who enliven the evening with fiery steps and the spirit of Buenos Aires”