Friday, January 20, 2017

A Coffee With Fajardo

Lifestyle Almeria
By Ignacio Mañas
January 9, 2017

We started the week with our usual section on Culture and Cinema: "Indalies for the World", where our partner and collaborator Ignacio Mañas surprises us with this magnificent interview with Eduardo Fajardo, a legend of the Spanish cinema, who has become an adoptive son of the city of Almería by his own merits ...

A Coffee with Fajardo

I had the immense pleasure of sharing a coffee with Eduardo Fajardo. A living legend of the cinema, where he participated in more than 180 film, theater, radio and television shows. In fact, as he very well says, he is the only Spanish actor, who has triumphed in the all 5 pillars of interpretation and in that order: dubbing, radio, theater, film and television.

                   When you are with him, you can feel that aura, of which only great people possess. That captivating look, with which he expresses everything without speaking, that deep voice, and that takes you back to the movies, just by listening to him. In short, when you are with him, you have the feeling of being with a legend, because without a doubt, Fajardo is.

                   We started our talk, on a terrace in the center of Almeria, not without innumerable interruptions, of the people who come to greet him and he justifies me the same saying: "You see Ignacio, this is one of the reasons, the kindness and kindness of Its (Almeria) people, for whom I decided, that this was the place, where I had to spend my last years."

A Life Of Cinema

I was born on August 14, 1924, in O Mosteiro, a small village, belonging to the municipality of Meis (Pontevedra), but in that same year, my family and I moved to the locality of La Rioja in Haro, where I spent 7 years of happy childhood, until a family tragedy happened (of which I do not want to speak). There I stayed until I was 14 years old, to move later with my mother, to Solares (Santander), where she set up a business related to dairy products, to get her family along. All these lived events, as well as my mother's permanent intention to make me a strong and independent person, made me leave my childhood behind very quickly, to mature very fast.

The Poison Of Cinema

You ask me how a provincial boy comes to show business, and I'm going to tell you. It turns out that very close to my house, in La Cavada (Lierganes) there was a famous seaside resort, where I met some gentlemen, with whom I intimated and who claimed to dedicate themselves to the world of cinema, as directors and producers. These supposed filmmakers did not stop praising me, arguing that I, with my bearing, would have a future on the big screen. The truth is that with their arguments and my fantasies, they put the "poison of the cinema" in my blood. So much so, that after a short time, at the age of 18, I convinced my mother and left my town to go to Madrid, with a backpack full of illusions, but nothing more, since my financial resources were very limited .

From Fantasy to Raw Reality

As soon as I got to Madrid, I went to the Teatro Reina Victoria and asked for D. Jesús the director, which nobody knows how to give me guidance, since there do not know any director with that name. It's after describing to the people who I was looking for, when someone tells me, boy I think you mean "Los Chucho", the carpenters. Indeed, these gentlemen, who had cajoled me and filled my head with fantasies, telling me that they were film directors and producers, were really only simple carpenters (without belittling the profession), who helped build the stage.

My Home In Dubbing

Desolate, depressed and disillusioned, I wandered for several days in Madrid, until fate led me by chance, to a cafeteria. It turns out that this was Café Lepanto, a place frequented by artists from all walks of life. Sitting down to a coffee, an old man noticed my sadness and approached me to ask me, how a boy so young, could be in that state. After hearing my story, this "Guardian Angel" told me that I had a very peculiar voice and that I could try my luck as a movie maker and that I could try my luck in Fono España studios.

Neither short nor lazy, I turned to Fono Spain, in the street Claudio Coello, and asked for its director, Hugo Donarelli, to give me a test. The director was not on the premises, but at my insistence, the staff agreed to take the test. The result could not be worse, a real disaster. A few days later, I got an interview with the director who liked my voice, I did another test, but this time in his presence. That test he liked, so much so that the following week, he hired me to double Charles Boyer, in the movie "Midnight Dinner." In that company (Fono Spain), I spent 8 years as a dubber, until I got to be the director of the company, combining it alternately with the radionovelas, which at that time were very popular and had a huge audience.

It was during my period as a dubbing actor, when I met one of the best Spanish actors, Fernando Rey. It was this actor, the first who demanded, that his name appear in credit titles, as a doubling actor of Lawrence Olivier, in the movie "Hamlet", as it happened. That event left me impressed, since for the first time, the recognition, which was due, was given to the actors of dubbing. Then there was a second time, and that was, during my dubbing of Orson Welles, in his role of Othello, in which I also got my name in the cast. It seems to be, that Orson Welles envisioned the film doubled by me, and he liked it so much, that he wanted to meet me personally.

My Step Through The Theater

During my time in radio, I met a theatrical representative, who proposed to me to work in a play, which he represented. I accepted the proposal and remember that we started the tour, in a small town called Fromistan (Palencia), where the performances were made in hay fields and warehouses, and where the stage was limited only with ropes, to separate it from the audience. The entrance was always charged in species, oil, bread, potatoes, was a time of much misery and they only asked, what each could bring. Every night, upon returning from the function to the village, we exchanged in the store, the species for money. We always slept in crowded and shabby conditions, but very happy about what we were doing.

So I threw myself into it for a year and a half, doing my daily functions, totaling a total of 49, throughout the region. Later, I got to enter the company Maria Fernanda Ladron de Guevara and made my debut at the Poliorama Theater in Madrid.

The Leap To The Movies

In 1947, CIFESA fixed on me, and hired me first for one year and then for three more, to work always in secondary roles, in films like "Don Quixote", my first appearance on the big screen, followed by "Heroes del 95", "Locura de Amor", "Balarrasa" ..., alternating with the theater.

It was 1953, and Orson Welles, again asked for his dubber, and invited me to dinner one night. After the course of the evening, the director proposed and finally convinced me, to travel to Mexico, to play a starring role, a film about Hernan Cortes. That filming was never carried out, due to problems of interpretation of the story, since there were different points of view, between the Spanish and Mexican views.

Despite not getting off to a good start, when I entered Mexico, that land so captivated me that I decided to settle there and bring my mother with me. My mother has always been very present in my life and I would not leave her alone in Spain. There I got married, I had my children, and I felt totally integrated with their people, just as if I had been born there.

Very soon, I began to work in the theater, in the cinema, and in a new technology that began, called television, and in which I came to do, more than 2,000 episodes, emphasizing above all, in the incipient world of telenovelas, Becoming one of the most recognized actors, awarded and appreciated by Mexicans. I even tried my luck in business, heading the management of the theater Chopin, Mexico D.F.

Spain And The Spaghetti Western

Finally and after my Mexican stage, I decide to return to Spain, and soon after, my co-workers appointed me president of the National Union of Actors, a position I held for four years.

My return to Spain coincided just as the spaghetti western fever began. That was when actor Antonio DeTeffe (Anthony Steffen) went to the Desert of Tabernas (Almeria), to shoot the film "A Coffin for the Sheriff". It was this actor who recommended me, that my image was better as a villain, than as a gallant lead, giving me as an example, Anthony Quinn, who had managed to become famous, thanks to his role as a villain. I thought about what he said and I started to put it into practice. I remember that for the first appearance, that I had in that western, and that exerted the chief villain of the band, I dressed in a black outfit and I dyed my hair a platinum blond, something that was a surprise to all, and to the director. As soon as I appeared on the scene, I entered the saloon and ran my hand over my tongue, and then combed my tupé, like glitter. That surprised and further baffled everyone, since that scene was out of the script, but once the sequence was finished, the director gave me congratulations.

Then I participated in an infinity of westerns, and always in the role of villain. Films like "The Seventh Cavalry", "The Smell of Hate", "Dollars to Kill" .........., and so I got to shoot 15 films in a year, although the one that most marked my image, and had more repercussions, was "Django" by Sergio Corbucci, in 1966, a movie that is considered today as an icon of the western, by many of the best filmmakers. Among them the directors Quentin Tarantino, and his master Enzo Castellari.

My Retirement In Almeria

It was thanks to the western that I came to knw Almeria, and the truth is that this land hooked me from the first day. I loved its favorable climate, its coast, its desert ...but what really seduced me, was its people. Those people so close, so humble, so endearing, that it makes you feel so comfortable and loved. That's why I fixed Almeria, as my permanent residence.

Fajardo & The Handicapped

All the arrogance and excess, which we do when we are young, we pay for when we become elderly. That arrogance, along with my ability as a cavalier (since I was a child, I had grown up among horses), was the one that led me to develop my roles as an actor, but also as a cavalier and actor of action. These actions resulted in a bad outcome, during a shoot in Rome. It was a fall with a horse down a slope, causing me an injury, which did not heal at the time, I did not stop working, and now I have fallen into this chair.

When it came time for me to retire, I thought I had to keep doing things, that I could not be sitting at a table, playing dominoes with a group of retirees. So one day, I met a man who was missing a hand. I asked, that if the lack of the hand, had been produced by accident, or if it was such a birth, to which the Lord told me that he was born. You call and what do you do? I asked him again, and he answered me, my name is Matías García, and I am the president of the Almeria Federation of Handicapped People. At that moment, I discovered what my next course would be.

I volunteered as a cultural collaborator to help his associates and I came to create a theatrical company of the disabled called "Theater Without Barriers", with which we were for several years on tour, over all of Andalusia. Since then, I have never stopped visiting them, like twice a week, I tell jokes, I recite poetry, and when I finish the repertoire, I improvise and continue to encourage them.

I have many awards, streets with my name, a residence with my name, the first star on the Paseo de la Fama de Almeria, etc., etc., but for me the best prize is the one I receive every time I visit those people, they wear a smile. There is no prize, that can surpass that gratification.

Future Projects

In a few days, I have to travel to Mexico and I will be there for several months, among other things, because I have to participate in several television programs. Nevertheless, I want to return as soon as possible to Almeria, and upon my return, I want to return to the building of my museum, as well as to continue making collaborations with those groups that believe that I can be useful to them. I have had much fortune in life, and now somehow, I have to return those favors. Helping my neighbor, I am helping myself, and although I am aware that at my 92 years, I do not have much time left, I want to use 100 × 100.

Almeria will always occupy a very important part of my heart and I want to show it like this, my love to its people.

This is not goodbye, I will see you soon, and I will see you soon, my dear Almeria.

I accompany him to his house, and while I watch him manage with his electric chair, with that size and handling the joystick, as if it were the reins of a horse, it comes to mind a phrase:
"Fajardo Cabalga de Nuevo"

I wish it were for many years, dear friend.

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