Carlos Gardel: Facts and Trivia
Continuously updated

Anécdotas, Gardel trivia from carlosgardel.8m.com (in Spanish)

  • Gardel was born in the house on no. 4 rue du Canon d'Arcole in Toulouse, France. The dedication plaque attached to the house in March 1997 states: "IN THIS BUILDING WAS BORN ON DEC 11 1890 CHARLES ROMUALD GARDES WHO WOULD BE CELEBRATED IN THE ENTIRE WORLD BY THE NAME OF CARLOS GARDEL".

  • BIRTHPLACE: "Since he could not return to France with the name of CHARLES ROMUALD GARDES, because he was a war deserter, he made a passport in the name of CARLOS GARDEL, born in TACUAREMBO, URUGUAY, on December 11, 1887" (LUIS FELDMAN, historian, investigator and publisher of 48 videos on Gardel).

  • Urugayans claim that Gardel was born in Uruguay. To this day, they have not been able to produce his birth certificate. In fact, in 1937 when Gardel's will was and origin being contested, Uruguayuan government acknowledged that he was born in France. It is totally absurd that he was born in Tacuarembó. No manuscripts exist of Gardel to his supposed parents in that town, there are no photos of him with those people, there is no proof that he ever visited that town. In an intricately woven web of deception and lies, they use the stories of people born three generations later as "proof". They base their claim on laymen and charlatans such as: Eduardo Paysee Gonzales (Avlis, Nelson Bayardo and Ricardo Ostuni.

  • In 1913, the celebrated musical competition took place between Gardel and Razzano on the street Guardia Vieja in Buenos Aires. That street is today called "calle Carlos Gardel".

  • In the beginning of 1913, by the way of "Casa Tagini" Gardel realized his first recordings on the acoustic system for the Columbia seal. Of the first 15 themes registered, the first two are: Sos mi tirador plateado, master no. 56748, (estilo) and Yo se hacer, master no. 56749, (cifra). 

  • In 1915, as a result of a bar room brawl, Gardel got shot by Ernesto Guevara Lynch. The shooter, would be none other than the father of the infamous Ernesto Che Guevara.

  • Traveling on the same ship, on his tour to Brazil in 1915, Gardel met his idol, the great Enrico Caruso, who gave him this advice:
    "Molto bene...Bella voce...I am going to give some advice: do not let yourself be seduced by the easy successes nor by the misunderstanding... Reject all suggestion in the desire for change to obtain one or two higher tones in your voice... If you do it, you will be ruined. Aside from the voice, you have an unmistakable color, purest diction, clear, perfect... This is most valuable, it will allow you to faithfully reproduce any lyrics in the proper tone".Gardel's first performance in Paris was on September 30, 1928 Theatre Femina on the Champs Elysees, in a benefit concert for the victims of the Guadeloupe catastrophe 

  • Until 1917, Gardel did not record a single tango, only Argentinean folklore music.

  • In 1924, in Buenos Aires (Estancia El Huetel), Gardel sang for the visiting Prince of Wales (who later became Edward VIII)

  • On his tour of Spain in 1927, a reporter asked him as to his true nationality. Gardel responded: "My country is the tango and its capital is the Corrientes street".

  • Gardel's first performance in Paris was on September 30, 1928 Theatre Femina on the Champs Elysees, in a benefit concert for the victims of the Guadeloupe catastrophe (one of the French island colonies). It is his performance at this benefit that catapulted Gardel in France and on the international stage. Among the best artists in the World at this concert was Josephine Baker (see announcement on the right).

  • Gardel on TV in 1931: believe it or not, Gardel was first seen on an experimental TV set in Curazú Cuatiá, Corrientes province on August 8, 1931. The transmission was made in co-operation of the monthly paper Radio Revista and LR4 Radio Splendid.

  • Gardel's last residence in Argentina (1927-1933) was his house at: Jean Jaurés 735 in Abasto, Buenos Aires.  On June 24, 2003, it is to be opened to public.

  • On December 9, 1931, Gardel was in London for a soccer match between England and Barcelona. England won by 7:1 making Gardel very unhappy since his friend Zamora, was the goalie for Barcelona.

  • His last recording in Argentina was on November 6, 1933 when he committed to disc Madame Ivonne, a tango by Eduardo Pereyra and Enrique Cadícamo.

  • On March 20, 1935, in New York, Gardel recorded his last song Guitarra Mía, with the guitars of Aguilar, Barbieri and Riverol, master BS 89235-2. 

  • On March 25, 1935 from the studios of RCA Victor in New York, he records an announcement about his upcoming tour to Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, etc. The recording is known as Palabras de Gardel y Le Pera (The words of Gardel & Le Pera), master BVE 89451-1. 

  • On June 23, 1935, in Bogotá, Colombia, on the radio station "La Voz de la Víctor" Gardel sings to the public and the world for the last time with the song Tomo y obligo.

  • The last tango that Gardel sang: June 23, 1935, Bogota, Colombia

  • Gardel's tango 'Por una Cabeza' was used in 1992-5 films including Schindler's List, Scent Of A Woman and True Lies.

  • Did you know that Cecilia Villa who starred with Gardel in two movies: "Cazadores de Estrellas" and "El dia que me quieras" was the daughter of the famous mexican revolucionary PANCHO VILLA.

  • In many of his photos, Gardel is wearing the fashionable "trilby" hat, better known in Spain and U.S.A. as the "fedora". This was a very popular hat of the 1930's worn by "Indiana Jones" and the gangsters of the era.  

  • Gardel's music has been interpreted by Trio los Panchos (1986), Julio Iglesias (1997), Marcelo Álvarez (2000), Roberto Carlos, Héctor Cabrera, Alberto Cortés and Plácido Domingo.

  • Antonio Sumage, alias El Aviador, was for many years and since 1915 Gardel's personal chauffer (he was at the steering wheel at the time Gardel was shot after a bar scene in 1915). He even accompanied him to France on Sept. 12, 1928 to return the 1928 Graham Paige car that the Barcelona soccer club gave him as a present.

  • Eduardo Bonessi, Gardel's song master had this to say of Gardel:
    "Before leaving for his last tour, in 1935, he was with me and told me that he did not want to sing anymore. He had had enough, the public made him nervous and he suffocated in sweat whenever he performed. It was a voice to last one hundred years, but his spirit had been exhausted ", assured the professor with sadness.

  • Bing Crosby (American singer and actor. 1933) 
    "Gardel is the owner of an unquestionable musical personality, he is in possession of  the fourth dimension of the Song, that is the one of knowing how to make his listeners feel it". "I have never heard a voice more beautiful."

  • Charles Chaplin (1889 – 1977) (Actor, scriptwriter and director Gardel in Paris - 1928 of English cinema. Los Angeles, 1935) eulogizing Gardel:
    "I knew the great singer in Nice... in March of 1931. Finding myself in Le Palais de la Méditerranée, a mutual friend put to us in contact... He had a superior presence of  voice and figure, an enormous personal sympathy that would gain him the immediate affection of everyone. So profound was the sympathy he inspired in me, that I
    remember clearly that we stayed up until the first light of dawn, in a night of joy that would never repeat itself... I told Gardel he would have triumphant future and advised  him to dedicate himself to the cinema... When Gardel arrived to the United States, he came to visit me, he was my guest which gave me the opportunity again to listen to his cherished songs... Days before initiating the tour he came to bid me goodbye and we were together awhile. He already spoke correct English and told me that he was going to make a tour of Central America, the idea that I applauded. You can tell the public that with Gardel I lose one of my best friends, and they should know that the South American countries could not have a better representative among us. As far as the cinematographic art is concerned, it has lost a paramount figure that never could be replaced."

  • As a kid, Gardel did not spend much time at home, never telling his mother where he was going. She was worried sick. Upon returning late, he would look at her concerned face and sing to her Mi madre querida after which she would calm down:
    ¡Pobre mi madre querida,
    cuantos disgustos le daba! (bis)
    ¡Cuántas veces, escondida,
    llorando lo más sentida,
    en un rincón la encontraba! (bis)

    My poor dear mother,
    how displeased I would make her! (bis)
    So many times, hidden,
    crying with much emotion,
    in a corner I would find her! (bis)
    For the complete song lyrics, click here.

  • Here are some words from Gardel' mother Berta recorded in 1936.

  • On March 23, 2000, a 2.4m statue of Gardel, the work of Mariano Pagés, was dedicated in Abasto.

  • Gardel performed in Caracas, Venezuela a few days before his death. In 1988, on the Plaza Carlos Gardel, statue was erected of Gardel and his guitarists, the work of the sculptor Marisol Escobar.

  • According to Jorge Luis Borges: "I never liked GARDEL and the tendency that he represented. Because in the end of all things, that music has contributed in saddening the Argentine people. The first tangos were happier, valiant, moving. And then comes that bedraggled tango, with a final sob" (June 1975).

  • 89 year-old Eduardo Morera directed Carlos Gardel in 1930, throughout fifteen cinematographic shorts, of which only ten survive. Precursor of the talking Argentine films, he considers that together with Gardel, they produced true video clips.

  • There is a saying in Argentina: 
    "It will snow again in Buenos Aires before a replacement for Gardel is found".
    (The last time snow fell in Bs. Aires was on June 22, 1918)

  • The fact that in some songs, Gardel did not pronounce the "N" and replace it by an "R", obeyed the mechanical rudimentary methods of recording on discs: the energy of his own voice would vibrate a membrane that would stimulate a needle on an endless spiral used for recording on the first acoustic records made of paste. The voice was conducted from a horn where the singer of those times practically introduced the whole face and a tube took it up to the needle. That made it necessary to produce strong consonants, since the weak ones did not make a clear impression on the record (Gardel would sing "Targo" instead of "Tango"). This was not attributed to his pronunciation defect as stated by some of his biographers. It is curious though that with the advent of the electrical recording system in 1925-6, Gardel continued to use the "R" consonant in his songs until his death in 1935. It is also worthy of note that, on some of his acoustic records, the "N" could still be clearly distinguished.  

  • Miguel Angel Morena, "Historia Artística de Carlos Gardel":
    Carlos Gardel, the Maestro, the greatest Tango singer in history. Many ask, what is the phenomenom of his continuing relevance?... It's easy to notice that, amongst other valid reasons, it's fundamentally rooted in the real fact - not myth - of his Voice: so warm, expressive and full of shades; a voice that conveys every emotional state, which continues, thanks to the magic of records, to attract legions of admirers. We shouldn't then find it strange that after all this time the Great Singer has not been surpassed and continues to move with his art: here and now, relevant, universal...
  • Gardel's favourite singing and eating spots were: Café O´Rondeman, (Agüero and Humahuaca) Abasto, owned by five Traverso brothers, cabaret Armenonville (where Garde's professional carrer was launched in 1914), El Guaraní (Corrientes y Esmeralda), Café Tortoni (Avenida de Mayo 825), restaurant and El Valussi, in the same area, Café de los Angelitos, (Rivadavia and Rincón). It is in Café de los Angelitos where Gardel & Razzano signed their contract for Odeon in 1917. The NEW cafe is to be built there under the same name but the original one was demolished in 2000. Gardel frequented the restaurant El Chanta Cuatro (demolished) in which exact spot is now the restaurant "Esquina Carlos Gardel". Another of Gardel's favourite spots was  Chantecler Cabaret, located on 400 Paraná Street, between Corrientes and Lavalle. It opened at the end of 1924 and was demolished in 1960, after years of inactivity. Gardel frequented this place, where his friend, Madame Ritana worked. It is rumoured that Gardel and Madame Ritana were more than just friends (as Gardel's long-time girlfriend, Isabel del Valle would insinuate). It is even rumoured that one of the reasons why Gardel got shot in 1915 was because of Madame Ritana's jealous husband. It is possible since in June 1929 Gardel sends Razzano this letter: "Another important thing: Five months ago, I have received a menacing letter from the father of a blond girl working in Chantecler. You can imagine that I have to protect myself, for this reason I bought a revolver to be sure, but you better go and see the girl as soon as possible and find out what impressions she has of her father. The threat in the letter simply says "We will meet some day". I have the letters in case there is any doubt. Well, I leave this matter in your hands and at the same time, take care of another woman, "la figurita", who slept with me.
    Carta a Razzano, junio 1928.
    Otra cosa importante: he recibido una carta hace cinco meses del padre de una muchacha rubia del cabaret Chantecler como amenazandome. Te imaginarás que tengo que ir prevenido, por esto he comprado un revólver para asegurarlo, pero por de pronto vos tenés que ir a ver a la muchacha a ver que impresiones tiene del padre. La amenaza de la carta es simplemente 'que algún día nos vamos a encontrar'. Yo tengo las cartas por las dudas. Bueno, te encargo esto y al mismo tiempo vela por la otra mujer que se encamó conmigo, 'la figurita'.

  • The famous Mercado del Abasto, a historical landmark, was there for 50 years. It opened in the year 1893, the same year that Gardel and his mother came to Argentina from France. The last time it "appeared in public", so to speak, was back in 1987 when Luciano Pavarotti recorded there a special program for the RAI, sang "Canción de Buenos Aires", and danced tango with the late Beba Bidart, a key tango dancer, singer and actress. At present, and after being recycled, it is a modern mall with hundreds of stores, a large food plaza and movie theatres. One of the most famous characters in this neighborhood was the "Morocho del Abasto". This is what Carlos Gardel, an all-time great, was called. He lived with his mother at 137 Rincon St. Carlos Gardel´s House is located at 735 Jean Jaures St. 

  • The CD "Carlos Gardel, The King of Tango", from Nimbus Records (NI 7896) is oriented to the English speaking public. The tangos do not lose anything in translation: 
    -SYNOPSIS

    -MALEVAJE: Good God! What have you done to me? The underworld gives me strange looks, it sees me losing my grip - me! And only yesterday my daring deeds were famous! Your love has trapped me. I don't know who I am any more.

    -SEGUI MI CONSEJO: Live like a swell. Avoid overwork. Get by on champagne. Always live your life at night. Ogle the girls who are already fixed up and it won't cost your money. Avoid milk, its bad for the heart. Make whisky your friend instead. Take my advice!

    -CHE PAPUSA OÍ: Great-looking cabaret girl, with your picaresque "crème de menthe" eyes, your frenchified chatter, your wicked look, your sinful mouth, the smoky cabaret may claim your attention tonight, but Ill be seeing you tomorrow!

    -TOMO Y OBLIGO: I drink, and you must drink too. Order a drink! Its no good talking about women, none of them give any reward. Don't fall in love, but if it happens, have courage! Suffer it, don't cry. A truly macho man must never cry.

    (Information provided by David Fernández Martín <davidfm_@eresmas.com> on Aug. 28, 2002)

     


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