We are at the end of Hispanic Heritage Month! And a great part of this celebration is to remember and pay homage to those who gave their cultural contribution to spread and keep the Hispanic culture alive in the United States!

Today, we remember two amazing comedians that not only made us laugh so many times, but also gave us life lessons with their wonderful characters!

Let’s start with Desi Arnaz, musician, actor and TV producer. He became famous for interpreting Ricky Ricardo in the 1950’s sitcom “I Love Lucy” (1951-1957), starring Lucille Ball, who was his wife at the time. Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III (March 2, 1917 – December 2, 1986), was also recognized internationally for leading his Latin music band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra

Arnaz was born in Santiago de Cuba and his family moved to Miami in exile to escape the Cuban Revolution. 

In the United States, he began his career in the entertainment world and in 1939, he starred in the Broadway musical “Too Many Girls”. The following year, he moved to Hollywood and during the 40’s, Arnaz appeared in many movies. He also completed his recruit training in the United States Army during the Second World War. He was assigned to direct the United Service Organizations program (USO) at a military hospital in the San Fernando Valley. 

In 1951, Arnaz co-starred in the premiere of I love Lucy, where he played a fictitious version of himself, the Cuban bandleader Enrique “Ricky” Ricardo.  When it began, the idea of marriage to an American with a Latino (situation enhanced by Desi’s accent), was not pleasing to American viewers. But they moved on, overcame the objections, and the program was a resounding success and it is still a classic today!

Desi Arnaz has two stars on the Walk of Fame. And in 1956 he won a Golden Globe in the Best TV program category for “I Love Lucy.” There is also a museum dedicated to the couple in New York.

Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreno Reyes (Mario Moreno) alias “Cantinflas“, was already a star in his native country, Mexico, before developing his career in the United States. Mario Moreno (August 12, 1911 – April 20, 1993) was a comedian film star, producer and screenwriter. His characters were focused on impoverished peasants. The character of Cantinflas, although controversial, has been associated with the national identity of Mexico, which opened the doors of Hollywood. 

Cantinflas was a lot like Moreno himself and his personality, including his street smarts to deal with difficult situations. His comic character led him to the spectacle of the circus. Then on to the theater and the movies. He was very well known for his philanthropy, especially in regards to children. His movie debut in 1936 started with “No te engañes corazón” (Don’t fool yourself dear) but the film didn’t do well. However, in 1940, he became a movie star with “Ahí está el detalle,” (There’s the rub). And during this decade and the next, he lived the best limelight of his career! This spanned the theater and the controversial play, “Yo, Colon” (I, Columbus) in 1953.

His movie debut in Hollywood came in 1956 next to David Niven in “Around the world in 80 days,” which made him the best paid actor in the world! 

He won the affection of his audience with a simple and sweet character. He also knew how to use comic speech very well! This type of speech is known as a cantinflada. The Real Academia Española has formally added the verb, Cantinflear, to their dictionary in 1992! His style and the content of his movies have led scholars to conclude that he influenced the spread of the Chicano Movement message during the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, the most important of which was El Teatro Campesino.

Although Mario Moreno never achieved the same level of success in the United States and in Mexico, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He won two nominations to the Golden Globe awards (and won one!) for best actor in the Mexican Academy of Film Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Mario Moreno “Cantinflas” award is given annually to artists who: “represent the Latino community with the same humor and distinction as the legendary Mario Moreno “Cantinflas” and who, like Cantinflas, utilizes his power to help those most in need.”

I hope you found this information interesting! Until the next time!