MEXICO CITY – One day Pedro Infante went to a restaurant and before ordering, went in the kitchen to wash the dishes. Only when he had finished did he tell the owner: “Tońo, I’m done, you can serve me now.” He is still remembered today for his modesty, as well as for the talent that made him the great idol of Mexico.
One hundred years ago, Infante (1917-1957) was born in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, on Nov. 18, and from early on showed a gift for music, so learning to play the guitar, piano, violin and drums came quite naturally, Sergio Solis, producer for Warner Music Mexico, told EFE.
“Obviously, people didn’t want to see him playing behind the drums, they wanted to see him up front at the microphone singing, because he had a physical presence admired by the girls and guys alike,” Solis said with a grin.
Infante’s voice, which did not reach the higher notes, sang genres like rancheras, ranchera ballads, waltz and huapangos, while “Cien Ańos,” “Paloma Querida,” “Mi Carińito” and “Cartas a Eufemia” are some of the songs for which he is remembered.
Pedro Infante expressed in a song such sentiments as festivity, fury or sorrow, according to Maria Eugenia Flores, daughter of composer “Chava” Flores (1920-1987), who composed songs for the singer like “La Tertulia.”
For her, “the idol of Guamuchil” (the village where Infante grew up) perfectly captured the Mexican spirit in his singing.
Infante was known to have an amazing talent for learning songs and recording them in the most vibrant, original way, though it wasn’t like that the first time he auditioned for a movie and had an attack of stage fright.
However, his initial fear didn’t last, and Infante acted in some 60 films, including “Los Tres Garcia,” “Nosotros los Pobres” and “Pepe el Toro.”
Euridice Cervantes, daughter of composer Alberto Cervantes – who knew Infante from the time he was a boy – said the singer and actor was not only a modest person, as shown by the restaurant anecdote, but helped anyone needing work or money without ever going around talking about it afterwards.
“It’s very hard to find an artist today with all those qualities: modesty, honesty, simplicity and caring,” she said.
Much has been said about the supposed rivalry of Infante and Jorge Negrete, another of the idols of the “Golden Age” of Mexican movies, but while Negrete’s voice “was much more impressive, the passion in Pedro Infante’s was unique,” said tenor Fernando de la Mora.
Unfortunately, there will always remain the unanswered question about what more he would have achieved if an airplane crash had not ended his life at age 39. Throughout his career he recorded 351 songs, the last of them being “La Cama de Piedra.”