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Cantinflas: 1911-1993: Actor, Comedian

Became The Master Of Bumbling Speech

As a dancer in the carpas, Cantinflas performed in front of audiences that included soldiers, laborers, and peasants that expected to be entertained with feats of acrobatics, scenes of drama, and skits of comedy. In this environment Cantinflas learned how to control larger crowds of people through comedy and honed the skill of dealing with heckling audience members. On one night, Cantinflas was forced to be a substitute for a sick master of ceremonies. Upon centering himself on the stage, stage fright caused the stand-in to forget what he was supposed to say. Cantinflas recounted, in Americas magazine, the launch of his trademark verbal comedy; "I just started talking nonsense. The audience began to laugh, so I continued …" When the audience returned the next night they booed the official announcer.

The reign of the nonsense speech that would become Cantinflas' signature had begun. Krebs, in the New York Times, defined Cantinflas' routine as a "combi-nation of gibberish, double-talk, mispronunciation, wild exaggeration and pantomime." However, others see the routine as a way in which Cantinflas used the language proscribed to the lower classes when addressing a member of a higher class as a way to lampoon those higher classes. In 1935 Cantinflas joined the Follies Bergere Theater and soon became a popular figure on the theater scene of Mexico. In 1936 he appeared in his first cinematic comic role in No te Enganes Corazon. However, this appearance did not cause his film career to take off. Then, in 1937, Cantinflas married Valentina Subareff, the daughter of a Russian-born carpa owner.

Under constant urging by Valentina, Cantinflas began to appear in a series of short films. These short films were basically commercials advertising everything from trucks to beer. The reaction to Cantinflas on the screen was so overwhelming that theater owners began to request more film commercials featuring him. The director of the film commercials, Santiago Reachi, was impressed by the response to his commercials and produced two full-length films featuring Cantinflas. Ahi Esta el Detalle in 1940 and Ni Sangre Ni Adrena in 1941 shattered all previously-held Mexican and Latin American film records and outgrossed Charlie Chap-lin's The Dictator in the Mexican box office, which was out at the same time. The two films also skyrocketed Cantinflas into cinematic stardom in his native Mexico. This was the first time, according to the New York Times, that Mexican "men and women stood in the rain, waiting for admission to a show."

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) BiographyCantinflas: 1911-1993: Actor, Comedian Biography - Came From Humble Beginnings, Became The Master Of Bumbling Speech, Mexico's Answer To Charlie Chaplin