Actress and singer
(October 11, 1904 - December 24, 2002)
Full Name: Laura Ana Merello
ita had no need to create a character. During her over seventy years of artistic career, she simply resorted to express, the overtones of her own life, giving to the audiences the peculiarity of her personality.
She had no teachers. She was abandoned early, sadness and streets, where she forged that arrogance which identified her throughout her life, a faithful image of the roles she was assigned to interpret at theater and in the movies.
An example of this is that memorable scene, one of the best of the Argentine cinema, in the movie "Los isleros". On it she personifies "La Carancha" (a night bird that attacks and eats smaller animals), an aggressive woman that is the couple of a peaceful man, a quiet countryman. At the scene she verbally attacks her man and the latter stands her, until she calls him "toruno" (ox or castrated bull), then the man reacts and whips her until she is tamed, to finally possess her sexually.
She was not born to sing. When she was young she used to humorously say the lyrics of tangos reos. Later on, as soon as her repertory was growing, when she tried to hold notes, she was out of tune. But she had feeling and was accepted by her audience, so much so that she made unforgettable renderings of several numbers with such impact that no other female singer dared to include them in her songbook for fear of the comparison.
The tango Arrabalera -from the film with the same title, based on the theater play by Samuel Eichelbaum, "Un tal Servando Gómez", "El choclo", "Se dice de mí", "Pipistrela" and "La milonga y yo", which was especially composed for her by the author and composer Leopoldo Díaz Vélez, for a movie as well, are symbols of her repertory.
As for "La milonga y yo", let us see it as a curiosity that a part of its refrain was plagiarized by Joan Manuel Serrat, that one which says: "vamos subiendo la cuesta...", and that the judicial proceedings, after thirty years, still have not come to a conclusion.
She was of short stature, dark hair, with nice legs, big sensual lips, and a insinuating and provoking look, like that of the one who knows everything and offers it all. So was she and her character. And so she was. She was after everything with fury, exultant, she achieved many things but she lost as well.
She was recorded in the registry as Laura Ana Merello, born on 715 Defensa street, on October 11, 1904. Daughter of Santiago Merello, a cart driver. Strangely in her birth certificate her mother´s name was not written. Four years later a Uruguayan girl named Ana Gianelli or Ganelli, acknowledged being her mother on the birth certificate itself. Her father had already died when he was only thirty years old.
«I experienced hunger», «I know what fear and shame are», with these phrases she started the story of the hard times lived in the orphanage where she spent her early years.
«My childhood was short. Childhood for poor people is shorter than for rich children. It was sad, poor and ugly». When she was older, she confessed without embarrassment, «having worked as a whore».
Soon later she told us that when she was already recognized in the show business, a famous journalist, at the time of greeting her and while holding her hand, after greedily watching her with "non sancta" intentions, asked her: «In the other life you must have been a courtesan». And she answered: «And what am I now?»
She was acquainted with the stage when she came to know that chorus girls were needed at a theater near the port, it was like those seen at the movies, whose customers were sailors and underworld people. At this moment Marlene Dietrich comes to my mind, that German girl of short stature, suggestive, with beautiful legs and unashamed; the same qualities that Merello displayed at the film "The blue angel" in which she tried to sing at a sordid cheap café arousing the irrational love of a serious professor.
A newspaperman of the period described it as a second-rate theater, nearly pornographic, named "Ba ta clán", since then, the chorus girls were called "bataclanas", and this term became a synonym for "merry woman".
Some time later she turned out to be a "vedette" and she was called "La vedette rea". Under this condition she premiered the play "Leguisamo solo", created by the musical director of the company, an Italian who grew accustomed to our traditions and fan of horse races, Modesto Papávero, and it resulted in an outstanding hit.
A famous theater critic who knew her before the '30s said about her: «She is one of the most temperamental, most vehement actresses and she has the strongest temper in the national scene, and she is besides quite witty, very fast for a reply, much intelligent, and interprets tangos as an actress. Each tango is a little theater play».
She started at the movies with movies themselves. She appeared at the first Argentine talkie regarded as such, "Tango", from 1933. Other subsequent performances of her were as "supporting young actress", but with a personality completely different to the one of the first actress who played the role of "candid" and whom, lastly, the first actor chose; everything within a comedy framework.
But when in 1937 "La fuga" was shot, she evidenced her abilities as dramatic actress, a revelation that amazed producers and directors, because of her naturalness, her expression and her assurance.
Other important movies of her career in the cinema, which definitively consecrated her were: "Morir en su ley", "Filomena Marturano" (written by the Italian actor and playwright Eduardo De Filippo), "Los isleros", "Arrabalera", "Pasó en mi barrio", "Guacho", "Para vestir santos", "Amorina" and many more until reaching over forty.
Time later and when her success as actress was in full blossom she was required for theater, television and radio, and she worked for the latter until an old age. She already was "Tita de Buenos Aires".
As a singer in 1927 she succeeded in recording two numbers for the Odeon label: "Te acordás reo" (by Emilio Fresedo) and "Volvé mi negra" (by José María Rizutti and lyrics by Fernando Diez Gómez). In 1929 she switched to Victor where she recorded 20 songs, of which "Tata iévame p'al centro", "Che pepinito" and "Te has comprado un automóvil" stand out.
After a long interval she came back to the recording studios, in the year 1954, accompanied by Francisco Canaro, and this is her consecrating period. Unforgettable records such as "El choclo", "Se dice de mí", "Arrabalera", "Niño bien", "Pipistrela" and "Llamarada pasional" (the latter dedicated to Luis Sandrini and written by her) were released then. In the sixties and seventies she recorded more than forty numbers, with the orchestras of Carlos Figari and Héctor Varela.
She did everything with an overwhelming drive. She was a woman of many men, but she always had in mind only one love, the love she felt for the actor Luis Sandrini (who died in 1980); she lived with him around a decade but he later forsook her for a younger actress, Malvina Pastorino (who died in 1994).
«My best character is the interpretation of my own self. A dramatic actress cries for herself when she interprets a theater character».
She was awarded for her performance as actress, but the public recognition is the most important thing, which lasts until now and which consecrated her as a symbol of the woman of tango and the woman from Buenos Aires