Guadalupe Aballe

The true face of Paul Lasserre

here was always a solid belief in the Gardelian environment about the identity of Carlos Gardel’s father. The latter would be a native of Toulouse named Paul Lasserre. But where does this tradition come from?

The first serious piece of evidence is in Armando Defino’s book “Carlos Gardel, la verdad de una vida”. On page 208 it says: «His father came to Buenos Aires to offer them his name». This visit might have taken place when World War I was over.

Out of this information we can guess that the man was capable of “offering them his name”, to marry Doña Berta because he was a widower or a bachelor.

In the newspaper La Razón dated Monday, December 17, 1970 Luis Ángel Formento published a long note about the subject at issue and produced Lasserre’s name, stating that Defino and his wife had given it to him. This source is credible taking into account the close relationship between the Definos and Doña Berta.

Formento produces a story similar to the one told by Defino in his memoirs but with further details. He says that Lasserre was a traveling salesman, married and with children at the time of meeting Berta; he was already a widower when he decided to travel to Buenos Aires to try to “offer his name”. And he ends it saying that after Berta said no he returned to France «where he died a few years later».

By gathering these pieces of information we have the following profile:
- a man called Paul Lasserre;
- a traveling salesman;
- married, with children;
- widowed in 1918;
- he died soon after 1918.

Now, did a man named Paul Lasserre exist in Toulouse?
Do his historical data coincide with the data gathered by oral transmission?

The answer is yes. Yes, he existed but with some differences with regard to what was said up to then.

His full name was Paul Jean Lasserre and he was born in Toulouse on August 1, 1866 on the Rue Des Sept Troubadours 13. He was son of Joseph Lasserre, whose trade was «menuisier en voitures» (that is to say, he worked in the process of manufacturing carts and carriages) and of Jeanne Marie Blanc, whose trade was «lisseuse» (ironer, presser, the same occupation Berta Gardés had).

Paul’s birth certificate bears the number 1655 and has a marginal note: «He married Marie Anne Broyer on September 29, 1898 in Toulouse». The outstanding importance of this information is that we now know that at the time of Charles Romuald’s (Carlos Gardel) birth Paul was neither married nor had children. He was a single boy, 24 years old, one year less than Berta.

In his death certificate he find more information: «he died on November 20, 1921 on Arnaud Vidal 15, real estate owner, widower of Marie Anne Broyer».

We see that the only difference between the historical data and those coming by oral tradition is Lasserre’s status at the time of Carlitos’s birth. But we verified important coincidences that make the Definos’ statement credible:

1) One called Paul Lasserre existed in Toulouse at the time we are interested in.
2) Because of his age, a love affair between Berta Gardés and him was possible.
3) His mother and Berta had the same profession.
4) He was a widower at the time of his death.
5) He died in 1921. If Lasserre traveled to Buenos Aires after the end of the war, this voyage had had to take place after 1918 to return to France «where he died a few years later»: 1921.

Jack Lupic, responsible for the Gardel Web site sent us a photograph of Paul Lasserre’s true face that he got from François Lasserre, a direct descendant of the former. The photo that for many years was attributed toLasserre, in fact, belongs to Julien Amiel, an uncle of François’s great grandparents. For that reason we attach it to the note thereof.