Mario Moreno “Cantinflas’” 107th Birthday – With a twitch of his slender mustache and a burst of witty doublespeak, Cantinflas captured the hearts of film audiences in Mexico, where he appeared in some four dozen films beginning in 1937. The rest of the world discovered his talents as David Niven’s bumbling valet in the 1956 film Around the World in 80 Days. In Latin America he was beloved by generations of filmgoers, not just for his work as a comedic actor/singer/writer/producer, but for his philanthropy.
Born Mario Moreno Reyes on this day in 1911, he earned money in the streets of Mexico City singing and dancing. There, he worked briefly as a prize fighter, discovering ways to make audiences laugh at his antics. After honing his comedic pratfalls in circus tent shows, he began making films at age 26.
Cantinflas often portrayed a destitute individual (el peladito) who overcame the challenges of life in urban slums. His genius was recognized by the silent film legend Charlie Chaplin, who hailed Cantinflas as the “greatest comedian alive.”
Despite his success, Cantinflas never forgot his roots, at one time providing quality housing for more than 250 low-income families in Mexico City. For this legacy, and his work on screen, he is remembered as a national hero.
Happy 107th birthday, Cantinflas!
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