Actress, singer, consultant and life counselor, legend of Buenos Aires. That was Laura Ana Merello, who became famous as Tita Merello and whose birth turns 118 this 11th October. In addition, in December there will be another 20 since her death, which took place on Christmas Eve 2002.
His iconic interpretation of the tango They say about meundoubtedly shows Tita Merello as one ahead of her time. Today it could almost be read as a hymn of rag and feminist or at least, vindication of self-esteem and empowerment. About her Her hard childhood taught her to look for them, to invent how to survive and that pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit of her accompanied her throughout her life.
The girl born in a public house in San Telmo on October 11, 1904, unwittingly faced the first blows of life with the death of her father, when she was just six months old.
a short childhood
Hunger, indifference and lack of school marked his early years. “I don’t remember if I had an early childhood. What I do know is that it was very short. The childhood of the poor is always shorter than that of the rich”He once said.
Then he was followed for some years in an orphanage, like so many others on a ranch in the province of Buenos Aires, where he did all kinds of rural work. “Milking the cows, lighting the fire for the laborers’ breakfast, preparing the roast, in short, many things, just for the house and for food”, she recalled as an adult.
Always with him “fix them as you can“who became flesh and word later, he spent his adolescence and still could neither read nor write, because education had been postponed by the urgency of daily survival. In time, the time would come for her as a showgirl and choir girl.
In the Bajo there was the Bataclan room, where the girls showed their legs and sang with double meaning lyrics. Tita was one of them. “Bataclana,” he confirmed with his deep voice and dragged, unmistakable seal learned on the street. Always aware that, even if driven by necessity, the thing would not go beyond the picaresque tone. It was only when he was 20 that he learned to read and write.
Self-taught singer and actress
The successful singer like the immortal They say about mefurthermore Arrabalera, El choclo, Niño bien, Pipistrela Y what a cow and star of films such as ¡Tango !, This is tango, Filomena Marturano, Disgrace, Mercado de Abasto, To dress the saints, La morocha, ¡Viva la Vida! Y The fears, nor did he attend any music or acting academy. Pure instinct and vivacity.
After successfully ascending from Bajo theaters to marquee theaters, again in magazines and musicals, in 1930 Tita participates in a drama for the first time, replacing Olinda Bozán in the lead role of brother’s ranch. And it was a success. Another.
After more than a thousand shows followed with The conventillo de la Paloma, with tickets costing 80 cents and attracting waves of people. Tita was already torn between drama and her performances as a singer. Until something else unexpected came along: sound films.
In 1933 Tita was part of the cast of Tango, the first sound film of Argentine cinema directed by Luis Moglia Barth. The impact of the film continued to add popularity to the artist who was already starting to be “the” Merello.
And other films appeared in which he showed that all the character he had forged in his life up until then could also be reflected on the screen and in his characters.
A woman without ambitions
But, far from feeling like a star, against the tide, Tita assured: “I’ve never been very interested in film work; They called me to act and I went. The same thing happened with the rest, me I never thought of anything, I never had ambitions for anything; my pleasure, my need, was to work, both as a bataclana and as an actress who sings tango. As soon as I arrived, I arrived without wanting to ”.
Already in the 1940s, works appeared in Uruguay, including in the cinema and the theater, and there Tita went, crossing the Río de la Plata, with his talent and his confidence to spread out on the other side as well.
It was the moment when, during a variety show, between films and films, he sang a couple of songs. And from one cinema to another. Also in view of the frenetic tours that the cumbia bands would later doFor example, showing up at half a dozen bowling alleys per night.
Also known in Chile and Mexico, where her cinematic characters and her passionate tangos arrived, Merello was called to work in other countries. Tita left and devastated. But she was starting to feel like she was pigeonholed in the slums. And she wanted something else.
In 1948, that something else was his theatrical lead role in a classic, Filomena Marturano, which was on the bill for more than a year. “She fascinated me. To me it was like a vindication, the possibility of showing that she could be something other than the suburban singer or the comedian.” From theatrical success, the character moved on to the film version.
a forbidden love story
Aware of her popularity, Tita assured: “I have never been a mystifier of anything, neither of my social class nor of my capacity as an actress nor of my feelings as a human being. I am like everyone else, I dress like everyone else, I speak simply; maybe that’s why many people accept me, because they see me similar to them“.
But in the midst of so much work, Merello had a place for love, even if not in the way that was expected of a woman of the time. But Tita was Tita and she lived it her way, turning a deaf ear to criticism and prejudice. In 1933, on the set of TangoTita met Luis Sandrini, then married to actress Chela Cordero.
The attraction was mutual, but the romance began to be forbiddenbesides, Tita was much more famous than him. Only in 1942 Tita and Sandrini show themselves publicly and become the couple of the moment. However, Tita relegated more than one commitment to accompany him as he was building a successful career by leaps and bounds.
In 1948, there was a major short-circuit in the relationship when Tita decides to act Filomena Marturano, at the theater, at the same time that Sandrini is called to film in Spain. “If you don’t come with me, our thing is over,” he told her. She obviously did not accept the imposition and chose his job.
Soon after, the actor married another actress, Malvina Pastorino, with whom he had two daughters. Wounded, but not defeated, Tita survived, once again, and from that moment on Sandrini talked little or nothing about it or it was just “what I was telling you about”.
In the apartment they had once shared, there was a chair left in the corner like a forgotten and omnipresent memory. “Nobody sits there, in that chair he sat“, he explained to those who visited it.
Doors closed by Peronism
In 1955, with the overthrow of the government of Juan Domingo Perón, many doors were closed to Tita Merello. Reluctant to go into exile, she preferred to stay in Buenos Aires to continue working sang in amusement parks and circuses.
She, who was one of the most popular figures of the moment, once again had to find the mango to support herself. She was used to it and assured: “I always helped those who asked me. I gave a lot, I never wanted to be the richest in the cemetery“.
At that moment, in the midst of rumors and prohibitions, they came to investigate her for an alleged trade in an import of tea until it was determined that Tita had nothing to do with it. A vile excuse to dirty your image. Mistake: what dent could someone who had learned to bank cause what has ever come up with his head held high?
In 1957, after a job in Mexico and with calmer waters, he returned to the theater with love, a work of moderate repercussion. And with other films. But Merello was no longer so comfortable with the cards they offered her and I have refused more than I have accepted.
It was around this time that the old wound left by her relationship with Luis Sandrini turned into a song. Twelve years after the separation, in 1960, Tita recorded the tango passionate glow with the typical orchestra of Héctor Stamponi, who set to music the verses of Laura Ana Merello, recorded for the Odeón label.
“Flame is hearing from the shadows that voice that names me, that I am looking for and that is not there. Flame is to feel on my mouth all the fire of your mouth that burns me and goes away. Flare hears what he names me and runs after an impossible-to-reach shadow”, Wrote and sang Tita. “Thank you for helping me cry to the rhythm of the music,” she told Stamponi.
On the few occasions in which he referred to his romantic relationship with Sandrini, he said: “I have lived for a long time in a corner. When a woman falls in love, if that woman is called Tita Merello, she needs love to give, not to ask. My way of loving is maternal, protective, it forces me to withdraw, to stay at home. And I don’t regret it. “
On circular Saturdays, with Pipo Mancera
In the 60s and 70s he settled in studying the program Circular Saturday led by Pipo Mancera, and by now, between tango and tango, between jokes and opinions that confused more than one, Tita was weaving his own urban myth. Her presence generated, as always, a unique attraction that prevailed over any subject. “I introduce myself and I can be myself,” she said.
What was already installed in popular culture was his interpretative style, between sung and spoken, as one of his identifying marks. The expressiveness of her gestures, which leverages the great resources of the actress, did the rest of her.
“Dramatic art is in the narrow Corrientes street, when you walk all night without having a place to sleep. There you learn the drama. There you learn the pauses, the tone. In prayer, in desperation, you learn”, he counted, always remembering from where it came from.
That’s why he was able to make his own milonga They say about me (by Francisco Canaro and Ivo Pelay), designed to be sung by a man. But the version of Tita in 1954, included in the film Supply marketdirected by Luca Demareit was not only a success but it became a classic to the point that it could be considered as a feminist preview synthesized in the emphatic ending “I’m this way“.
many women in one
Tita was many women in one: the daughter of the ironer and the driver of mateos, the one who stopped being illiterate and almost adult, the one who wrote news and advice for the magazine Voices in the 1930s, before turning to music and acting.
Alone and passionate, Tita has had several love affairs and one love, Luis Sandrini, who marked it with fire. After a few years of low profile, in 1974, with the appearance of her in the film mother Mariahis figure returned to the foreground.
In 1985, already retired, she appeared very often on several radio and television programs giving health advice to women (“girl, get a pap smear“, he repeated almost like a mantra); to the little ones, like a guru who, in the last part of his life, chose to share his experience, especially with the most needy, almost as a tribute to his origins.
With the company of her inseparable dog Corbata (who died in 1981), Tita took refuge more and more in her solitude. Y died at the age of 98 on Christmas Eve 2002, at the Favaloro Foundation, already converted into Tita de Buenos Airesin reference and legend.
As if it were necessary, he explained: “I got dressed. I made myself a dress to fight the life of arrogance. I have lived my whole life longing for tenderness, which is the best of feelings because it includes love and passion. They treat me well and get everything from me ”.