Rolando Chaves

Real name: Cochia, Dagoberto
Singer, scriptwriter and actor
(18 April 1919 - 11 April 1995)
Place of birth:
Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña (Chaco) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

e was born in the city of Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, province of Chaco. He used to display a tough guy style. He spoke with a haughty voice tinged with a coarse tone —even tough he was talking about love— but with a good diction though somewhat nasal. Possibly that was due to his rather wide nose which was also slightly flat.

His looks were classic, he might as well would have been either a man of the suburbs or a tough guy with police record but always from those old times gone by. He fit for those roles.

His arrival in tango was like many others at that time: by winning a talent contest for singers when he was eighteen. In this case, on Radio La Voz del Aire, run by Emilio Karstulovic, also owner of the Revista Sintonía (a magazine about show business). He was also a race car driver and had had a great number of love affairs –so they used to say- with young female radio and movie stars, some of them widely well-known later.

But soon his career changed its direction. He continued singing but as a secondary activity. He devoted himself to popular soap operas on radio. A genre that followed the recent success of Chispazos de tradición. It was based on gaucho or suburban stories with naive dramas with grandiloquent phrases that for many years amazed the listeners of Radio Porteña (today Continental) and, especially, of Radio del Pueblo, a classic radio station for this kind of things.

When two days after his death a morning paper published his obituary, it said: «A key figure of soap operas on radio. Responsible for important radio programs like La zapatera y el millonario (The female cobbler and the millionaire), he was as well actor, author and singer. He had been member of the Argentores board for many years. His death was the day before yesterday at the Hospital Italiano where he was hospitalized because of a cancer».

And it went on: «At age 19 he began to work on Radio Belgrano and, soon later, he became a leading actor and singer in those plays which, in general, were daily aired for a month».

In 1949 he began to co-write with his brother Orlando and so they formed one of most prolific teams of the 50s. He later went on alone. Some of his titles were: Yo soy un fugitivo, El tango soy yo, Barrio de tango, Yo soy Rosendo Vidal, El romance de un salvaje, Nazareno Luna, el último pampa. It was so outstanding the success of these plays that he adapted many of them for neighborhood theaters and movie theaters of the city and suburban areas.

In 1968 he reached his last hit (in collaboration with Juan Carlos Chiappe) Santos Cruz, el último payador argentino. For television he collaborated with Abel Santa Cruz in the scripts of the TV soap operas Carmiña and Señorita maestra. He appeared on TV as actor, among others, in Malevo along with Rodolfo Bebán, in which he plays the role of a bad guy.

He reached tango, firstly, through the radio and later through the movies. We must highlight his appearance in the movie El Morocho del Abasto (The Life of Carlos Gardel), premiered on March 22, 1950 at the Normandie movie theater, directed by the almost unknown Julio Rossi, with script by the soap opera writer Roberto Valenti and the poet Nicolás Olivari. Also in the cast are Tito Lusiardo —the one who was starred along with Gardel in the movies— Laura Hidalgo, Diana Maggi, Analía Gadé and others.

That was an unsuccessful movie —however lasted six months in theatres—, with Chaves in the main role and singin twelve songs of the Gardel’s songbook: “Cantar eterno” (also “Amame mucho”, a song composed by Ángel Villoldo); “De vuelta al bulín”, “El pangaré”, “El tirador plateado”, estilo written by Carlos Gardel; “Hay una virgen”, song by Mario Pardo and Manuel Flores based on a poem by Lord Byron; “La criolla”, song of Gardel and Razzano, “La mariposa (Gorjeos)”; “La yegüecita”, “Mano a mano”, “Mirala como se va”, a tonada by Saúl Salinas; “Rosa de otoño (Rosas de otoño)” and “Tu vieja ventana”. In some numbers he is accompanied by a guitar group and, in others, by the Domingo Federico orchestra.

On one occasion he said he had the same baritone voice range like Gardel. And when the movie was aired on television there were a large number of telephone calls asking if the one that sang was El Zorzal.

On March 18, 1955 Vida nocturna was premiered. The attraction was the number “Palomita blanca” that showcased Aníbal Troilo playing his bandoneon with Edmundo Zaldívar on guitar. Later he appeared again in another scene with the orchestra and with Jorge Casal singing “La cantina”. Chaves appeared in one of the various episodes that take place in the movie. On May 26 that same year there was another premiere, Embrujo en Cerros Blancos, this time with a more outstanding appearance. The music was composed by Domingo Federico and the film was directed by Julio Rossi. It was a strange motion picture —Argentina's first colored—, with no acclaim, in which he acts and sings two numbers. Copies of this film were destroyed in a fire.

On January30, 1958 La morocha was premiered. Directed by Ralph Pappier, appearing with Tita Merello and Alfredo Alcón.

In the mid- 60s, on his own, he recorded some numbers, accompanied by the orchestra of Domingo Marafiotti, among them, “En la vía” and “El morocho Barrientos”.

Furthermore, we single out his appearance in Sangre y acero directed by Lucas Demare, along with Carlos Cores and Virginia Luque. The music was written by Lucio Demare. The latter accompanied him in: “Malena” and “Solamente ella”. And in the movie La potranca (1960) he is starred alongside the brunette vedette Maruja Montes.

His other stints in the movies are rather mediocre, but for him the important thing was to be there. So were his appearances alongside José Marrone and also some other movie with Sandro. Forty years after his early debut had passed, enough time for a change in people’s likings, but the man willingly and with effort still tried in order not be excluded from the milieu.

It seemed interesting to us to remember his career and his continuous effort to spread our culture in a way that today would turn out naïve, but which, undoubtedly, was a national and popular way.