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Cantinflas: 1911-1993: Actor, Comedian

Mexico's Answer To Charlie Chaplin

From the beginning of his film career, Cantinflas was tempted by Hollywood. As stated in the New York Times, after the release of Ni Sangre Ni Arena, his studio, Posa Films, sent him to Hollywood "to see how things are done there." Cantinflas most often found himself compared to the famous American film comedian Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin, upon seeing Ni Sangre Ni Arena, declared Cantinflas to be the greatest comedian alive. Although Cantinflas was most often compared to Chaplin, he was also compared to the comedic likes of W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton, Bob Hope, and Will Rogers.

While early American films inspired the young boy who grew to become Cantinflas, the character of Cantinflas was truly a Mexican offspring. Dressed in drooping pants, a rope belt, and rumpled cap over his always-mussed hair and sporting a tiny mustache on the corners of his lips, Cantinflas entertained and amused scores of Mexican and American moviegoers. So popular were his films in Mexico and theaters in Spanish-speaking American markets like Texas, Arizona, and California, that by the time Cantinflas appeared in his first American film, he was already a millionaire 25 times over.

Becoming a millionaire, while arguably diminishing the social commentary of his films, did not diminish the social responsibility of Cantinflas. Starting in 1952 the actor began his crusade against poverty. In this year he set up an aid fund to help, according to the New York Times, "solve the problems of the poor." He donated money, matched by the government, to help build hospitals, maternity clinics, housing and restaurants for the sole use of the poor. To promote his aid program, Cantinflas, in a partnership with the afternoon newspaper Ultimas Noticias, began printing the estimated earnings and pictures of over a dozen known Mexican millionaires in order to pressure them into giving to the fund. He gained the support of the country's president, who donated both personal and public funds to the program.

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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