Pedro Infante: Icon of Mexican Cinema

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

Pedro Infante en casa de María Félix (11-Jan-55) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Homenaje a Pedro Infante en el Cine Florida (19 de julio de 1955) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Homenaje a Pedro Infante en el Cine Florida (19 de julio de 1955) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Pedro Infante y Lilia Prado en la filmación de la película "Los gavilanes" (2 de diciembre de 1954) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Fotos de Pedro Infante y Wolf Rubinksy (1949) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Pedro Infante y Prudencia Griffel durante la filmación de la película "Sobre las olas" (1950) (1950) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Reportaje de Pedro Infante como motociclista (1951) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Reportaje de Pedro Infante como motociclista (1951) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Reportaje de Pedro Infante como motociclista (1951) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Fotos de María Félix y Pedro Infante en casa de María. Ciudad de México, enero 11, 1952. (1952) by Manuel Gutiérrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Pedro Infante y Silvia Pinal en la filmación de la película "El inocente" (30 de julio de 1930) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Homenaje a Pedro Infante en el Cine Florida. En la imagen aparecen Silvia Pinal, José Elías Moreno y Pedro Infante (19 de julio de 1955) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Estudios San Ángel Inn. Pedro Infante y Yolanda Varela en la filmación de la película "Escuela de rateros" (Aug-56) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Estudios San Ángel Inn. Pedro Infante y Luis Manuel Pelayo en la filmación de la película "Escuela de rateros" (Aug-56) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Funeral de Pedro Infante, abril (Apr-57) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Funeral de Pedro Infante, abril (Apr-57) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Funeral de Pedro Infante, abril (Apr-57) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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.

Funeral de Pedro Infante, abril (Apr-57) by Manuel Gutierrez ParedesCineteca Nacional

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