Sunday, July 15, 2012

Our Neighborhood: Pedro Infante

One of the unique things about our neighborhood that a lot of people probably don't know about is the tributes and statue to Mexico's idol of the 40's and 50's, Pedro Infante.
 (Most of the text below was gathered from The Yucatan Times and Wikipedia)

 José Pedro Infante Cruz (November 18, 1917 - April 15, 1957), better known as Pedro Infante, is perhaps the most famous actor and singer of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and was the idol of the Mexican people, together with Jorge Negrete and Javier Solís, who were styled the Tres Gallos Mexicanos (the Three Mexican Roosters). He was born on November 18, 1917 in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico. He was raised as a child in Guamúchil.

His film career began in 1939 with him appearing in more than 60 films, and starting in 1943, he recorded about 350 songs. For his performance in the movie Tizoc, he was awarded the Silver Bear of the 1957 Berlin International Film Festival for Best Actor and also a Golden Globe in Hollywood, for 'Best Actor in a Leading Role', awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Though he made millions, he always represented the common poor carpenter he once was. Infante was a symbol of someone who had worked himself up from nothing. To many Latin Americans, he wasn't just an actor and singer, but much, much more. Fifty five years have done nothing to erase his influence and to this day, flowers are taken to his grave in Mexico City.
Since 1945, Pedro Infante chose the city of Merida as his getaway from fame, the ideal place to relax and have fun as he could not do in any other part of Mexico. He was always surrounded by fans that never let him rest.
In Merida, the citizens saw him as a Yucatecan, they would greet him but never bother him for autographs, or ask him to sing for them. He was free to go to public and popular places with no problem, whatsoever. The Yucatecan food was one of his favorites.
He had a home on Itzáez Avenue, where he used to bring his fellow actors, and even Ismael Rodriguez, his head manager used to stay there to work on new scripts for their upcoming films. He also liked to tour around town on his powerful Harley Davidson motorcycle.

The city where he chose to relax and have fun, years later would become the place where he lost his life in a plane crash on property at Calle 87 x 52 y 54.
The death of Pedro Infante on the morning of April 15, 1957, was announced by radio personality Humberto Rodríguez, of radio station XEMH of Mérida, after one of the firefighters discovered the bracelet engraved with the name "Pedro Infante", plus the winged insignia that symbolized his aviator license. This was around 8:15 am; at 11:12 am, Manuel Bernal, of Mexico City radio station XEW, gave the news saying: "this Monday, April 15, 1957, Pedro, our beloved Pedro...this has been confirmed, has died in a tragic accident in Mérida, Yucatán".
Calle 87 x 54 y 52
There is a plaque bearing his name on the exact site where his charred body was recovered from the wreckage. Also killed in the crash were Marciano Buatista, Capt. Victor M. Vidal, a young woman named Ruth Rosell Chan, and a young child named Baltazar Martin Cruz.
The corner of Calle 54 y 87

Calle 62 x 91

Every April 15th, there are festivities and celebrations at the corner of Calle 54 x 87 and also at the small plaza with his statue at Calle 62 x 91.

Below is a small part of the investigation and probable cause of the crash:

The aircraft climbed to a height of 100m and made a 65deg left turn. The aircraft continued to climb to 150-200m and made another turn. The Liberator yawed left, lost control and nose dived into the ground, killing a child on the ground. Among those killed aboard the plane was Pedro Infante, a famous Mexican singer, actor.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The accident was due to a maneuvering error which consisted in making two turns onto the Mexico City heading without conforming the distance and procedure specifications and below the prescribed altitudes and speeds. This error was aggravated by a probable shifting of the load due to improper securing."

To this day you will often hear the music of Pedro Infante playing in the neighborhoods of Mérida.