10 Songs, 27 Minutes


About Luis Aguilar

Admired for his singing as well as his acting, Luis Aguilar, aka el Gallo Giro, went down in history as one of the great stars of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. Aguilar wasn't as prolific a recording artist as some of his fans would have liked; most of his singing was done in movies or nightclubs instead of in recording studios. Nonetheless, he was blessed with a deep, full, rich baritone and brought a great deal of heart and passion to his mariachi and ranchera performances. The singer/actor was, according to most sources, born in 1917 in Hermosillo in the Mexican state of Sonora; some sources insist that he was born in 1918, but 1917 has been listed more often than not as the year of his birth. Aguilar was 21 when he decided to move to Mazatlán on Mexico's Pacific Coast; he enjoyed being near the ocean and might have had a career as a pescador (fisherman) if he hadn't gone into the arts. But during a visit to Mexico City, Aguilar was discovered by film producer Raúl de Anda; after bringing Aguilar to his office and asking him to sing, de Anda hired him. Aguilar's first role was in the 1943 movie Sota, Caballo y Rey; he went on to appear in more than 200 Mexican films. One of his most famous roles was in 1948's El Gallo Giro, which is how he acquired that nickname. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, Aguilar was closely identified with the ranchera genre of Mexican cinema -- the term ranchera can refer to both a musical style and a type of movie, and the two overlapped for Aguilar when he performed ranchera music in ranchera movies. El Gallo Giro is closely identified with western movies as well, and while rancheras and westerns are the film genres that he is best remembered for, Aguilar also had some roles in comedies and crime dramas. After the 1974 film Las Tres Compadres, Aguilar took a hiatus from films but returned to acting in the mid-‘80s. By that time, ranchera movies and westerns were almost extinct -- and Aguilar changed with the times by becoming more of a character actor and dividing his time between telenovelas (Latin TV soap operas) and movies. Aguilar's most famous television role was in the novela Muchachita, and he won an Ariel Award (Mexico's equivalent of an Oscar) for his performance in the 1991 movie Los Años de Greta. Aguilar was married twice -- first to Ana María Almada, then to actress Rosario Gálvez in the ‘50s. Between those two marriages, he had three kids. El Gallo Giro was living with Gálvez in Mexico City when he died of heart failure in his sleep on October 24, 1997. Aguilar was around 79 or 80 when he died, and his widow was quoted as saying, "Luis had always said to me jokingly that he was going to die while he was asleep, without pain, and his wish came true, since death surprised him while he was sleeping." ~ Alex Henderson

    Hermosillo Sonora, Mexico
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