Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Today's Video: Feliz cumple, Cantinflas!

Thursday is the birthday of a Mexican actor whose birth name was Mario Moreno, but was better known as "Cantinflas."

Cantinflas may be famous to some for his supporting role in the 1956 film "Around the World in 80 Days," a movie regularly listed as one of the worst winners of the Best Picture Oscar. Yet he was one of the Americas' most famous comedic actors whose star shined bright during the "golden age" of Mexican cinema. His impact on Mexican popular culture cannot be understated and his way with words led to the word "cantinflear" to be recognized by the Real Academia Espanola. His portrayal in some films and plays as a defender of the poor against authority was not always an act, as a 1940 Time article observed:
A few weeks ago in the course of rehearsing a revue he introduced an acid skit on Mexican election scandals. Although his show had not yet opened, the Government promptly closed the Folies Bergere Theatre where Cantinflas holds forth. Protesting the ban as a violation of his civil liberties, Cantinflas spoke softly but sternly to a couple of officials, soon persuaded them that his followers would not permit the Government to gag him. The Folies Bergere reopened, with Cantinflas joyously needling the Government more sharply than ever.
In the following video clip, Cantinflas appeared as a mystery guest on a 1960 episode of "Where's My Line?" Did the celebrity panel identify him? Watch and see:

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