Pedro Infante: Icon of Mexican Cinema

Cineteca Nacional

Cineteca Nacional remembers the actor and singer, on his 100th birthday.

A star is born
José Pedro Infante Cruz was born on November 18th, 1917, in Mazatlán, Sinaloa. His parents Delfino Infante García, a musician, and María del Refugio Cruz Aranda, a seamstress, always supported his interest in music, learning as a child to play instruments such as the guitar and violin, as well as being fond of carpentry.

At 16 years old, his love for music led him to create a small band called La Rabia (The Rage), which was very famous all around Sinaloa and played at the most popular parties.

His wife, María Luisa León, convinced him to move to Mexico City and become a singer. It was at XEB radio station in 1938 where he began to get big opportunities for his career.

The star that shines the most
Pedro Infante's filmography includes more than 60 films, and throughout the duration of his music career he recorded about 310 songs. His first steps in cinema were with the filmmaker José Benavides, in the short film "El Organillero" ("The Organ Player", 1939) and in an adventure film set in 19th century Mexico, "La Feria de las Flores" ("The Flower Fair", 1942) in which he played one of the friends of the protagonist, Antonio Badú.

Pedro Infante and film director Ismael Rodríguez worked together for the first time in 1944. That was the beginning of a collaboration that lasted 15 films, which gave Mexican cinema some of its essential classics.

Ismael Rodríguez molded his characters on Infante's personality. As the musician Juventino Rosas in Sobre Las Olas (Over The Waves, 1950), the character's depiction was far from the historical truth but much closer to the actor's personality.

His versatility made him: the noble carpenter Pepe el Toro; the passionate ranchero Luis Antonio; the indigenous Tizo; the cynical vagabond Pedro Chávez, turned by destiny into a traffic agent; and more.

In the film A.T.M. (Ismael Rodríguez, 1951), Pedro Infante performed his own stunts on board of a powerful Harley Davidson motorcycle, refusing to use stunt actors for the dangerous scenes.

With A.T.M., Pedro Infante highlighted the important work of traffic agents in Mexico City. In return, the Transit Motorcyclist Squadron appointed him honorary commander.

Tizoc (Ismael Rodríguez, 1957) imposed on Infante a double challenge: to hide his merry personality in order to achieve the dignity of the indigenous character he played, and share the screen with the diva María Félix.

Rogelio A. González was another important director in Infante's career. From the tragical to the comical, he directed Pedro in classics such as Escuela de Vagabundos (School of Vagabonds, 1954) and El Inocente (The Innocent, 1955), with Silvia Pinal.

Pedro Infante received two Ariel awards as an actor for La Vida No Vale Nada (Life is Worthless) in 1956 and Tizoc in 1958 - the same film for which he was awarded a Silver Bear as best actor in Berlín, posthumously.

His last film was the comedy Escuela de Rateros (School of Thieves, 1956), directed by Rogelio A. González and filmed in color. In 1994, Infante was awarded with his own star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Among the unfinished projects he left was La Tijera de Oro (The Golden Scissors), a comedy about a hairdresser, as well as an ambitious film in which he was due to play the characters Jesus Christ and Juárez, among others.

The star fades away
Pedro Infante died in a plane crash in Mérida, Yucatán, on April 15, 1957. This shocked the entire country and turned him into a myth of Mexican cinema.

The crowds filled the streets to bid farewell to the big screen idol, who with his voice, his presence and his figure marked an era in Mexican cinema and popular culture.

Admirers of all ages came to say goodbye to the actor and singer. They followed the convoy throughout the streets of Mexico City, until it reached the Panteón Jardín, where he remains today.

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