Archive for the ‘ Debuts ’ Category

1929, January 30 – PREMIERE OF “PANDORA’S BOX”

“She was the most seductive, sexual image of woman ever permitted in celluloid…she is the only pure pleasure seeker I think I ever met” these were the comments of director Richard Leacock regarding actress Louis Brooks…she created a scandal dancing a tango with lesbian “Countess Augusta Geschweitz” in G. W.Pabst’s classic “Pandora’s Box”...Louise portrays “Lulu” a seductive, erotic, thoughtless young woman whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring ruin to herself and those who love her…in this film she is the mistress of a well-respected newspaper publisher whom she marrys..she accidently kills him and is sentenced to five years in prison…she escapes with Alwa, her husband’s son but she is eventually sold to a brothel in Egypt…they eventually escape to London where they are living in squalor and where she prostitutes herself to make ends meet…she selects a client who is non other than Jack the Ripper… in the last scene, Alwa decides to leave her and is seen following a Salvation Army parade unawares of Lulu’s horrible fate up stairs…Jack the Ripper glances at him as he goes by

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In real life Louis Brooks was “Lulu”, living a libertine life of excessive drinking, opulent rich life style, reckless spending, sexual liberation and experimentation including a lesbian affair with Greta Garbo…at the age of nine she had been sexually abused by a neighbor which began her intense relationship to sexuality…in an interview she states “I was a terrible actress, in the film I was simply playing myself which is the hardest thing in the world to do”…her lovers included Charley Chaplain, CBS president William Paley and many others…by the age of 32 she was forgotten; she had had several opportunities to revive her career but she hated hollywood and told them to go to hell…alone and alcoholic, she took a job as a sales clerk in a New York department store where no one suspected she was the former beauty queen and screen myth…later she worked for a call girl agency catering to rich clientele…she never had any children describing herself, in typical  self deprecating humor as “Baren Brooks”

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1948, January 16 – PREMIERE, “THE TANGO RETURNS TO PARIS”

Director Manuel Romero was not a nice person, he had a terrible temper and was difficult to work for….he tended to work frenetically, writing as he went along and finishing a film as soon as possible; perhaps he had in mind his considerable gambling debts…he was immensely prodigious in his career; he was to make 53 films…he started as a playwrite, his first one being “Teatro Breve”; 149 others were to follow including some very successful ones..he worked as a journalist for the respected “Fray Mocho” magazine and even wrote the lyrics to numerous tangos including the two hits “Tomo Y Oblio”  (which was Carlos Gardel’s Last Tango) and “Tiempos Viejos”…his films followed the same formula, simple, heart-wrenching scripts complete with the poor boy in love with a rich girl who is being pursued by the cavalier son of the local tycoon all of it contrasted by a good dose of comedy and lots of tangos; the critics hated it, the people loved it

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“The Tango  Returns to Paris”(El Tango Vuelve a Paris) was another showcase for singer Alberto Castillo who was a board certified gynecologist by day and a crooner by night….his practise was so invaded by young girls that he reluctantly had to quit his medical practise and devote himself to singing…in the film, Alberto plays “Alberto” who is also a medical doctor whose passion is tango and who, along with a group of friends decides to try to reignite tango passions in Paris…there is, of course, a love story and humourous situations which present ample opportunity to sing several tangos including “Ninguna”, “Griseta”, and “Muñeca brava”…the film stars a boyish Anibal Troilo and his orchestra and is the only one where Anibal actually has a speaking part…the film also features legendary Mexican singer Elvira Rios who had that dark, mysterious quality in her style which one critic likened to Zara Leander…she had considerable success in the United States as well as Latin America and was one of the first Latinos to break into  Hollywood

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VwAsWC3_so to see a clip from the film “The Tango Returns to Paris” in which Alberto Castillo sings“Muneca Brava” composed in 1929 by Luis Visca with lyrics by Enrique Cadicamo

1933, December 29 – PREMIERE OF “FLYING DOWN TO RIO”

For this film Vincent Youmans composed the tango “Orchids in the Moonlight” which would be a smash hit and another leap forward in the tango craze in the United States and consequently the world…it is sung by Raul Roulien and danced by Fred Astair with Dolores Del Rio who was considered the female Rodolofo Valentino…”Orchids in the Moonlight” would be subsequently recorded by many other artists including The Platters in 1960 and by the legendary mexican trio Los Panchos in English; Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Cherise were to do an unforgetable dance to it in the 1948 film “On An Island With You”…this was the first time that Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers had worked together…Interestingly, Fred had been reluctant to work with her; having danced with his sister for many years, he now dreamt of finally breaking away to a solo career…

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The film was originally conceived as a showcase for silent film beauty star Dolores Del Rio, instead the unexpected chemistry between Fred and Ginger usurped the headlines and buzz and created the greatest dancing couple in history; they were to make nine other films together…”Flying Down to Rio” , directed by Thorton Freeman,  follows the adventures of  Roger Bond a band leader and aviator who falls in love with the Brazilian beauty Belinda de Resende (Dolores Del Rio) even though she is already engaged to Julio played by Raul Roulien…Roulien was the first Brazilian actor to make it in Hollywood; in the later part of his career he successfully produced and directed a number of films…Vincent Youmans composed some successful broadway hits although his career was relatively short; like the legenday Eduardo Arolas, he finally passed away relatively young  from complications of TB and alcoholism

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1924, December 5 – STAGE PREMIERE OF “EL CIEGO”

In the early part of the century, stage plays were the preferred method of entertainment and it was also the preferred setting to debut a new tango…a successful debut of a new tango in a stage play could mean fame and fortune for its composer…this was exactly the dream of composer Antonio Scatasso when he premiered his tango “El Ciego” in the play “Chi Lo Sa” written by Cesar Bourel which premiered at the Apollo Theater in Buenos Aires…Antonio Scatasso born February 28, 1886 (Pisces) In Naples Italy had very little education and in fact he was a rough, aggressive, uncouth person but he was also a musical prodigy…

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At the age of four his poor family had emigrated to Buenos Aires in the hope of a better life…Antonio learned to play the mandolin, the guitar and the bandoneon with almost no training of any kind; later he would also become a composer of simple and melodic tangos much beloved by the public especially theater audiences…his first professional debut, around 1907, was with the mandolin alongside violinist and future legend, Francisco Canaro…later he performed at the Cafe El Parque but this time on bandoneon which he had mastered…in 1933 he met Ignacio Corsini at the Teatro Smart; a long and productive collaboration was to ensue including memorable performance at the Radio Nacion….he was always close to the theater, toward the end of his life in management…among his numerous compositions were some great hits for some of which he not only composed the music but wrote the lyrics as well

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1926, November 6 – Debut Of Tango “VIEJO CIEGO”

Composed by Sebastian Piana with lyrics by Catulo Castillo, “Viejo Ciego”  was debuted by singer Roberto Fugazot at the Nuevo Teatro, in Buenos Aires while performing in a play called ”Patadas y Serenatas En El Barrio de Las Latas”…Fugazot, born in the Reus Del Norte neighborhood of Montevideo, Uruguay, was already an excellent guitarist, singer and actor as a teenager….in his long career he would be successful as a scriptwriter and composer as well…barely in his 20s, he formed a very successful duo with singer Agustin Irusta whom he met by chance in a restaurant…later the two would form a trio with Lucio Demare, known as “Trio Argentino” which, in traditional gaucho garb, would have great success at the legendary Maipu Cabaret, in Madrid Spain…later in his life he gave up singing to devote himself to acting to the delight of his numerous fans.

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Sebastian Piana, born in the Almagro neighborhood of Buenos Aires, was in the eyes of discriminating cognoscenti, the composer of the most beautiful tangos in history…he was the son of an immigrant from Piemonte Italy who was a barber by day and musician by night….along with Adolfo Pugliese, father of future legend Osvaldo Pugliese, he would play in impromptu tango groups in the cafes around Buenos Aires to which he would take the young and impressionable Sebastian …at the age of 14 Sebastian was playing piano at silent movie houses…he composed his first tango “Sabor Popular” at the age of 17…his first major break occurred in 1922 when Carlos Gardel recorded his tango “Sobre El Pucho”…many more were to follow…he was a childhood friend of the legendary lyricist  Homero Manzi with who he would later create some of the most beautiful tangos in history

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1889, October 5 – “LE MOULIN ROUGE” OPENS IN PARIS

Built the same year as the Eiffel Tower, 1889, the Moulin Rouge, known as the “Palace of Women”, would cross paths with tango on many occasions…this was the time of the  “Belle Epogue”, a period of great progress, peace and optimism…the Moulin Rouge would help turn Paris into a city of entertainment and sexual liberation…the risque “Cancan” which, like tango, was originally a courtesan dance of seduction, was created there…the Cancan’s greatest star was the fascinating “La Goulue” who went from simple laundry girl to the highest paid dancer in the world for her outrageous, daring, seductive performances…she would become Toulouse Lautrec’s favorite subject for whom she would pose nude and scandalized proper Paris…Toulouse, reported to have had an oversized penis inspite of his short stature, was a frequenter of prostitutes and a lover of tango…like “Madam Yvonne”, in the classic tango by the same name, she ended her days destitute, alcoholic, straggled selling peanuts and cigarettes outside the Moulin Rouge unrecognized….Mistinguett, the other legendary Moulin Rouge star would have a major hit with the naughty tango “Tout Ca C’est Pour Vous” which she would record in 1928…

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In 1923 porteno Eduardo Armani, composer of  “Normina”, one of Carlos Gardel’s hits, directed Mistinguett at the Moulin Rouge in one of her famous plays…the captivating and mysterious Linda Thelma was one of the first to bring tango to Paris when she sang at the Moulin Rouge in the early part of the century; here she met Francisco Canaro…the beautiful Alina De Silva, called by Parisian newspapers “the star of tango, was actually Peruvian of French descent..in 1929 she began a series of celebrated performances at the Moulin Rouge…Imitations of Moulin Rouge sprang up all over the world…the Moulin Rouge in Montevideo was established by Emilio Matos, father of Gerardo Matos Rodriguez the composer of the immortal “La Cumparista”….here Pascual Contursi debuted his great classic “Mi Noche Triste” singing it himself…”Mi Noche Triste” is considered the prototype of what tango would become; nostalgic, melancholic, speaking of life’s tragic moments…Pascual Contursi, like Toulouse Latrec would die young from complications of alcoholism and syphlis…both Roberto Firpo and Francisco de Caro would compose a tango called “Moulin Rouge”

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1910, September 24 – DOMINGO SANTA CRUZ DEBUTS AT “LA MOROCHA” CAFE

Composer, Leader, Bandonist (Libra) – He debuted at the Cafe La Morocha with a quartet which included his brother Juan on piano…Inspired by the colorful Uruguayan revolutionary activist Aparicio Saravia da Rosa, Domingo Santa Cruz wrote the tango “Union Civica”; it was an immediate hit and continues to be recorded and played in milongas one hundred years later…at the time that he wrote it, he had to hum it to a friend at the piano, as he was totally uneducated in music…he was to write other popular tangos like ”Hernani”, “El Viejo”, “Una Duda”….at age 15 he had an accident, while closing a warehouse door a thick iron bar fell on his face landing on his leg; it was to leave him with a permanent limp and for the rest of his life he would be known affectionately as el “El Rengo…he was born in the neighborhood of El Once, in Buenos Aires…his father had fought in the war in Paraguay and was later a railroad foreman; in his moments of leisure he would play a small bandoneon which he had acquired in  pawn shop for a few pesos…

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From the moment the toddler Domingo, strong-willed in character, touched that bandoneon he was entranced with its sound and he would become an accomplished bandoneonist practically self taught…as a young man he found his first work playing in the neighborhood hangouts, La Morocha Cafe, El Cafe Atenas, the Cafe Tupi Namba in Montevideo often accompanied by his brother who was an accomplished pianist…eventually he and his brother opened a dance school , The Santa Cruz Academy of Popular Dances, where they would sponsor joyous tango dance contests often announced with great fanfare; the prize was more often than not, a handsome tailor-made suit provided by a neighborhood  tailor..Domingo had only one serious vice, he was a heavy smoker and he began to have health problems associated with it..doctors eventually told him that he had an intestinal tumor and that he would have to undergo surgery…a charity event to raise money for his medical expenses was held at which the best musicians of the day performed for free…nevertheless, during recovery broncopheumonia set in and he passed away at the age of 47

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