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The first nationally famous ranchera singer, Jorge Negrete appeared in three dozen films and recorded almost 200 songs during the 1930s, '40s, and early '50s, before dying at the height of his career. Born into a military family (his father earned the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Mexican Army during the revolution), Negrete initially followed in his father's footsteps, enrolling in Heroico Colegio Militar (his country's West Point) in 1925 and joining the army three years later.
In addition to the military, Negrete was also interested in music; he studied voice with José Pierson and became a talented opera singer (at one time, New York's Metropolitan Opera House offered him a secondary position). When hired by radio station XEW in 1930, however, he struggled to make the transition from opera to the more commercial ranchera style. After four years of development and growing acclaim, Negrete made a trip to New York to perform and was promptly hired by NBC. His career exploded during his brief stay in America; he collaborated with Xavier Cugat, earned bookings at Latin clubs, met his first wife (dancer Elisa Christy), and connected with cinematographer Ramón Peon, who cast Negrete in his first film, 1937's La Madrina del Diablo. Four years later, Ay Jalisco, No Te Rajes! assured his fame as "El Charro Cantor," the singing cowboy. He made 38 films in all and recorded several huge hits, including "Paloma Querida," "El Hijo del Pueblo," "Tequila con Limón," and the patriotic anthems "Mexico Lindo y Querido" and "Yo Soy Mexicano."
During the early '50s, Negrete worked with Pedro Infante, one of his main ranchera rivals, in Dos Tipos de Cuidado, and wed another film star, María Felix, in a marriage that Mexicans dubbed "the wedding of the century" (Felix's first appearance was in a Negrete film). One year later, he was dead from cirrhosis, not caused by alcoholism but hepatitis.
Jorge Alberto Negrete Moreno (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈxorxe neˈɣɾete]; 30 November 1911 – 5 December 1953) is considered one of the most popular Mexican singers and actors of all time.
Life and career
Negrete was born in the City of Guanajuato where he was raised together with his brother and three sisters, and also lived in San Luis Potosí. From an early age, Negrete demonstrated a great brilliance and rapidly became a prominent student in the eyes of his teachers. He spoke five languages: Spanish, German, English, French, Italian, and even Nahuatl (a Mesoamerican dialect). Despite his brilliance, Negrete decided to abandon his studies at the age of thirteen to enroll in the military. He graduated with the rank of sub-lieutenant from El Colegio Militar, Mexico’s military academy. Place in which his fascination for music developed. Not only did he develop an interest for music but his military training forged him a gallant presence and character which would later benefit him in his acting career. Negrete met and studied under José Pierson, a prestigious singing professor, who became fascinated the moment he heard Negrete sing. Pierson helped Negrete develop his talent for Opera which led him to become well known in the United States.
Handsome, with a very strong will and a trained, fascinating voice, he is still a top icon in Mexico, Spain and Latin America, more than 50 years after his death. His recording of "México Lindo y Querido" ("Beautiful and Beloved México"), his country’s unofficial anthem, is the best known recording of the song. His career is often compared to that of Pedro Infante, the most popular Mexican actor of the time. The public rivalry didn’t carry over to their private lives, as they were close friends until Negrete’s death.
He married twice, to famous actresses with whom he shared credits: Elisa Christy and María Félix. He also lived with his frequent co-star, for more than ten years. Gloria Marín co-starred in 10 out of his 44 films.
He started his career singing on the radio in 1931 in Mexico City singing operatic parts. In 1936 he signed with NBC Television for a TV program with Cuban and Mexican musicians. He returned to Mexico in 1937 to act in the film La Madrina Del Diablo ("The Devil's Godmother") and because of the success of the film he was able to sign for several more the next three years. In 1938 he starred in La Valentina with Elisa Christy and then in Juntos Pero No Revueltos.
After working in Havana and Hollywood he was called to act in ¡Ay Jalisco, No Te Rajes! ("Hey Jalisco, Don’t Back Down!") which made him an international Latin star and helped formulate the charro film genre. Filming this film he met Gloria Marín, starting their romance and the string of films they filmed together. He complemented his film career by singing rancheras with the trio Los Tres Calaveras and touring Latin America, singing concerts and making personal appearances.
He was offered the main role in El Peñón de las Ánimas (The Rock of Souls) and wanted Marín to be his co-star. In spite of his protests, newcomer María Félix became his star and eventually his wife, although they at first despised each other while filming the film.
He was one of the founders, and the most important leader, of the Mexican Actors Association, succeeding Cantinflas as its chairman. In 1952, actress Leticia Palma became involved in the struggle between Cantinflas and Negrete over leadership of the union, with Palma campaigning actively for Cantinflas.
On January 2, 1953, Palma was "rescued" by Major Manuel González, who helped her get a taxi to safety while she was being pursued by an angry mob. The mob was led by Negrete, who was after Palma for having stolen documents regarding her contract violations. Palma filed assault charges on Negrete.
Eight days later, ANDA held a special assembly to judge Palma. Cantiflas argued on her behalf, attempting to negotiate a settlement. Negrete would allow nothing less than her expulsion from the union, and Palma likewise refused to withdraw the charge of assault. Just before the vote, a number of actresses left the room in protest. The remaining members voted in favor of expulsion, thus ending Palma's film career."Conmemorarán a El Charro Cantor con una misa". Milenio. February 9, 2010.
Death and aftermath
During a business trip to Los Angeles, Negrete died in 1953 at the age of forty-two of hepatitis, an illness with which he had contracted while working as a musician in New York. According to his wishes, his body was flown back to, and buried in, Mexico City.
He was the first to die of the "Tres Gallos Mexicanos", or "Three Mexican Roosters" (as he, Pedro Infante and Javier Solís, a younger star, were called; the three died within a span of 13 years).
Thousands of fans attended his funeral and followed the hearse to the cemetery, El Panteón Jardín, where he was buried in the actors' corner. On December 5, the anniversary of his death, fans still pay tribute to "El Charro Cantor" ("Singing Mexican Cowboy") at his tomb, and television and radio stations stage marathons of his films and songs.
The centennial of his birth was commemorated in 2011. Several tribute concerts and presentations took place throughout Mexico and some European countries with Hispanic culture and heritage.
Parents of Jorge were Emilia Moreno Anaya and David Negrete Fernández. He descended from outstanding Mexican liberal military men, including Miguel Negrete, who participated in the Battle of Puebla. His siblings were named Consuelo, Emilia, Teresa, David and Rubén.
Elisa Christy gave birth to his daughter Diana (his only child), Jorge has five grand children, Déborah, Diana, Rafael,Liliana and Lorenzo. Rafael and Lorenzo are professional singers and use the Negrete last name for their artistic name.
His stepson was actor Enrique Álvarez Félix.Parejas by Guadalupe Loaeza Naranjo, Francisco (1935), Diccionario biográfico Revolucionario (Imprenta Editorial "Cosmos" edición), Mexico.