With a twitch of his slender mustache and a burst of witty doublespeak, Cantinflas captured the hearts of film audiences all over 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. He eventually became beloved by filmgoers and people of all generations across Latin America not just for his work as a comedic actor/singer/writer/producer, but for his philanthropy as well.
Born Mario Moreno Reyes to humble beginnings on this day in 1911, he earned money in the streets of Mexico City singing and dancing. He also worked briefly as a prize fighter, discovering ways to make audiences laugh at his antics. After honing his comedic skills in circus tent shows - as well as adopting his now infamous stage name “Cantinflas” - he began making films at the age of age 26.
Cantinflas won over audiences by often portraying the role of a peladito, or underdog and destitute individual who overcame the challenges of life in urban slums. He was also admired for his comic use of language (a tactic officially recognized as “cantinfleando” by the Real Academia Española dictionary in 1992), which described his characters’ tendency to begin simple conversations and progressively complicate them so much to the point that no one understood what was being said - particularly when attempting to get out of sticky situations. His comedic genius was even recognized by the silent film legend Charlie Chaplin, who after watching one of his films hailed Cantinflas as the “greatest comedian alive.”
Despite his success, Cantinflas never forgot his roots. An avid charitable giver during his career, he also spent life after retirement organizing benefits for various charities, and at one point provided quality housing for more than 250 low-income families in Mexico City.
Today Google celebrates Cantinflas’ life and pays tribute to the beloved comedian by highlighting several of his iconic roles, including:
*Mario Moreno as “Cantinflas” in Ahí está el detalle (1940)
*Cantinflas as “Margarito/El Siete Machos” in El Siete Machos (1951)
*Cantinflas as “Padre Sebastián” in El padrecito (1964)
*Cantinflas as “Diógenes Bravo” in El patruello 777 (1978)
*Cantinflas as “Napoleón” in El barrendero(1981)
Finalmente, aquí está el detalle: ¡feliz cumpleaños, Cantinflas! (Lastly, here's the point: Happy birthday, Cantinflas!)