Abel Palermo

on of the violinist Domingo Demare and Otilia Riccio, he was born in the neighborhood of El Abasto in the city of Buenos Aires.

His father played in several orchestras in the twenties and in 1926 he joined the Francisco Canaro’s aggregation with which he would take part in the well-remembered tour of France.

Don Domingo went on tour with his wife and his two sons, Lucio and Lucas, who had been studying piano with the Italian maestro Vicente Scaramuzza since they were kids.

A few months after his arrival in Paris, the young Lucas decided to return to Buenos Aires where he began to study bandoneon playing. He turned to a good friend of his father’s, maestro Pedro Maffia. Due to his music studies with Scaramuzza, some researchers say that he soon learnt how to play that difficult instrument. Others, instead, say that he could hardly play and that he was included in orchestras to increase the number of players but, in fact, he did not play. I think that neither of both opinions was exact, he was not an amazing player but he indeed played.

One year later he returned to Paris and he joined the successful orchestra led by Manuel Pizarro. Thereafter he accompanied with his bandoneon the trio that his brother Lucio had with Agustín Irusta and Roberto Fugazot. For four years they toured the old continent until they finally settled in Barcelona.

In 1933, they were summoned to appear in the first Spanish sound film entitled Boliche which was directed by Francisco Elías. In it —besides appearing with the trio— he had a bit part as actor. The following year he appeared in another production called Sin rumbo.

This experience in the movies meant, for the restless Lucas, a spark to light the flame of this new artistic activity that was developing in show business. From that moment on, even though he was fairly successful with music, he preferred to work as a stage hand in the Orphea Film studios of Barcelona and, soon later, his position improved until he became an assistant to the director in the movie Tierra baja.

When the Spanish civil war broke out he had no other choice but to return to his country. With his savings he bought a ticket in Genoa and he embarked to Buenos Aires.

Thanks to his brother Lucio, a close friend of Francisco Canaro’s who owned the Estudios Río de la Plata with his partners Jaime Yankelevich and Juan Cossio, he began to work in the motion Picture industry. Canaro immediately placed him in charge of the studios because of the experience he had achieved in Spain.

Not much later Canaro gave him the chance to direct a movie. His debut was with the film Dos amigos y un amor which was premiered at the Broadway movie theater on February 8, 1938. The main actors of the movie were Pepe Iglesias, Juan Carlos Thorry and Norma Castillo. The latter would later become Lucas’s wife. The music was written by his brother.

On June 21, 1939 his second movie was premiered at the Renacimiento movie theater. It also starred Pepe Iglesias and was entitled Veinticuatro horas en libertad. That same year he released El hijo del barrio with Ernesto Raquén, Fanny Navarro, Roberto Fugazot and, for the Pampa label: Chingolo starring Luis Sandrini, Nuri Montse, Homero Cárpena and Héctor Méndez, premiered the following year at the Monumental movie theater.

The definitive consecration arrived with the films shot between 1941 and 1942. The first one, El cura gaucho, premiered on June 25, 1941 starring Enrique Muiño, Aída Alberti and Eloy Álvarez and with musical direction by his brother Lucio.

The second one, a smash hit, El viejo Hucha, was premiered on April 29, 1942 and starred great tango stars. The writers were Homero Manzi and Ulises Petit de Murat, the music was composed by Lucio Demare and Juan Carlos Miranda was on vocals. The leading actor was Enrique Muiño and it also starred Francisco Petrone, Roberto Airaldi and Osvaldo Miranda. The latter appears singing “Malena” and was dubbed by J. C. Miranda with Lucio’s orchestra.

Thereafter his masterpiece came and it is, possibly, one of the most important films in the history of the Argentine movies: La guerra gaucha with his own script adapted by Manzi and Petit de Murat. It was premiered on November 20, 1942.

Later would follow Su mejor alumno (1944), Pampa bárbara (1945) and, in 1952 he premiered, with his collaborators José María Contursi and Francisco García Jiménez, Mi noche triste, a fictional biography of Pascual Contursi. The actors were: Jorge Salcedo, Diana Maggi, María Esther Gamas —Fugazot’s wife— and the Aníbal Troilo orchestra.

In 1954, he returned to the tango material with Mercado de Abasto that starred Tita Merello, Pepe Arias and Juan José Míguez. In that movie Tita sings “Se dice de mí”, premiered on February 3, 1955. That year he also directed Hugo Del Carril in El último perro.

On September 25, 1975 his last motion picture Solamente ella was premiered. It was based on the tango with the same title and it starred Susana Rinaldi, Luis Politti, Raúl Lavié, the Sexteto Tango, Juan Carlos Copes, María Nieves and his daughter María José Demare. The musical direction was by Julián Plaza.

We think that it was right to present this short biographical outline of such an exquisite artist, born in the ranks of our tango and that, together with our dear Hugo Del Carril, formed part of a large number of great directors of our national movie industry.