As far as entertainment in Mexico is concerned, Mario Moreno Cantinflas would never be forgotten. Though he has long passed away, he would forever be remembered for the indelible legacy he left behind. Hollywood’s Charlie Chaplin called him the best comedian alive and even in death. Google Doodle in its typical fashion honoured him on his supposed 107th birthday in 2018. Cantinflas more than entertained his people as he was a very charitable man both during and after his illustrious career.
Who Exactly is Mario Moreno Cantinflas?
Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreno Reyes is the name the actor was given upon his birth on the 12th day of August 1911 in Santa María la Redonda, Mexico. Cantinflas was born into a very impoverished family and was raised in Tepito, a neighbourhood that was then characterized by hardship. His parents Pedro Moreno Esquivel and María de la Soledad Reyes Guízar had him alongside 7 other children.
Moreno’s father was a mail carrier that barely made enough to cater for his home, however, his son, on the other hand, seemed determined to make the best out of himself.
A natural-born funnyman, the young Cantinflas began singing and dancing on the streets for money and soon, he became part of a travelling tent show. Moreno chose the name Cantinflas as his moniker in a bid to conceal himself from his parents who didn’t buy the idea of an entertainment career for their son.
Mario Moreno Cantinflas, by the 1930s, began MCing events and in the process created his signature persona – the most outstanding feature of which was wearing big trousers held to his waist by a rope.
Though his film debut in 1936’s No te Engañes Corazón (Don’t Fool Yourself Dear) didn’t record much success, things changed quickly when he joined forces with producer Santiago Reachi and in 1940 he earned his breakthrough with the film, Ahí está el detalle (Here’s the Point).
Mario Moreno Cantinflas proved that his first success was no fluke with Ni sangre, ni Arena (Neither Blood, nor Sand) and voila! Mexico had just produced a world-renowned star.
His fame went a notch higher with his Hollywood debut in 1956’s Around the World In 80 Days. For his performance, he earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. The movie which won the Oscar for Best Picture grossed so high at the box office that it made Cantinflas the world’s highest-paid actor.
When his next Hollywood film Pepe didn’t meet expectations, Mario Moreno Cantinflas returned to making Mexican films and even producing his own under his eponymous production company. He retired in the early 1980s.
Unfortunately, Cantinflas’ bad habit of smoking heavily became the death of him when lung cancer took his life on the 20th of April 1993, aged 81. A three-day funeral which was more like a national event was held in his honour. Presidents, as well as the US Senate, paid their respects.
Wife And Family
Russian woman Valentina Ivanova Zubareff was the one and only woman that Mario Moreno Cantinflas married. They tied the knot on the 27th of October 1936 and stayed together until her passing in 1966, after which Cantinflas never remarried. Though his marriage with Zubareff produced no child, the actor fathered a son with another woman. His wife later adopted the son and named him Mario Arturo Moreno Ivanova.
He was the only child that Mario Moreno Cantinflas had and unfortunately in May 2017, aged 57, he passed away after a heart attack. His death came 16 years after his 8-year long bout with Columbia Pictures over the rights to his father’s 34 films. The court ruled in favor of Columbia who argued that they had paid for the films 40 years earlier.
Simultaneously, Mario Arturo Moreno Ivanova was fighting his father’s nephew Eduardo Moreno Laparade for the rights to the same films. Laparade argued that at his deathbed, Cantinflas gave him the rights to the film while Ivanova counter-argued that they belonged to him as he was the sole heir to his father’s estate and that there was no way his ailing father could have signed a document at his deathbed. Laparade won the case twice in court but Ivanova appealed and had the court turn in his favour ending a 20-year legal bout in 2005.
• Having grown up in penury, Cantinflas could easily relate to the poor in society and for this reason, he shared his annual earnings into half, donating one half to solving the needs of the poor masses.
• Moreno earned a lot of money from films and about two decades into his career, he boasted a net worth of $25 million, a figure he maintained until his death.
• Even in the modern era, Cantinflas’ films continue to mint money for Columbia Pictures. $4 million was reportedly made from foreign distribution in the new millennium.
• Mario Moreno Cantinflas was a member of the Freemason secret society.
• He stood tall at 5 feet 8 inches.
• A passionate Cantiflas ran away from agricultural college at the age of 15 to join a tent show, a decision his parents would later be grateful for.
• Cantinflas was a big advocate of labour unions laws.