Libertad Lamarque

Real name: Lamarque, Libertad
Singer and actress
(24 November 1908 - 12 December 2000)
Place of birth:
Rosario (Santa Fe) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

f short stature, although with a robust body and attractive figure, delicate smile and expressive look. High-pitched voice color, even for her soprano range, maybe not suitable for tango, she overcame that apparent difficulty with the enormous strength of her voice, the strong temper she evidenced and a permanent emotion added to a perfect intonation to say the lyrics and accompany the melody.

In the early part of her life a series of significant events took place one after the other, so as to make us think that a tragic fate was haunting her.

She was born in the city of Rosario, province of Santa Fe, on November 24, 1908 and when she was eighteen she had already made her professional debut at theater, on radio, recorded her first disc, she had already married and given birth to her only daughter and was about to breaking up with her husband. But later, and up to the present, permanent work and a never-ending series of hits would mark her life.

Her father Gaudencio Lamarque, son of French parents, married a widow with six children, and out of that union Libertad was born. At home they listened to music, there was much reading, political ideas and artistic trends circulated. Still a child, together with her brothers and sisters, she participated in small theater companies, because her father, of anarchist ideas, did not refrain from expressing his thoughts through brief theater plays that enthusiast union activists represented.

The young girl Libertad started to experience the fact of being recognized and praised by people, because in subsequent years during the Carnival season dances, she was awarded for her costumes, in which her father, as tinsmith, and her mother, adorning her husband's creations took part.

She toured nearby towns and many times she sang at the plays. Due to the recognition she got she learnt fashionable songs by heart and became the female singer of those performances.

By 1926 her parents agreed upon the possibility of her chance in Buenos Aires. Not only did they accompany her but also the tinsmith's shop was moved as well. They changed their residence to Buenos Aires and settled on 258 Paraná street.

They carried a letter of introduction to the owner of the famous Teatro Nacional, Mr. Pascual Carcavallo, written by a journalist from Rosario. Already a grown-up girl, the small nice figure of Libertad was admitted for the choir and for some little role. She was hired for a year with 300 pesos a month as her wage.

The work was continuous, until 1926 when she debuted in a play of the género chico —sainete— (one-act farce) joining a vocal trio with the actresses Olinda Bozán and Antonia Volpe, with the accompaniment of Rafael Iriarte´s guitar. The play was La muchacha de Montmartre by José Saldías.

His first singing interpretation was “Tanita de la proa”, in sailor's costume, together with the comic actress Olinda Bozán (who had recorded some tunes accompanied by Francisco Canaro). The “boss” was delighted at hearing her and offered her to appear in the “end of party” singing the tango “Mocosita”, which was replaced the following week by “Tatuaje” and later by “Pato”, “La cumparsita”, “Langosta”, “El ciruja”.

Two months later she made her debut on radio Prieto and soon the Victor label hired her for 150 pesos per record, and she had to record at least one a month and after thirty days her pay was raised to 300 pesos. Her first disc, September 26, 1926: an estilo, “Gaucho sol”, by Santiago Rocca and Atilio Supparo and a tonada, “Chilenito”, by Agustín Irusta. The recordings followed one another uninterruptedly; there was only one interval between 1934 and 1936.

By that period she married a theater prompter, Emilio Romero, with whom she had a daughter that was born in 1928. Quite soon she realized this union was a mistake but it would take her twelve years to get her divorce, not legal then, forming a new and definitive union with the pianist Alfredo Malerba.

In 1929, she plays in a one-act farce by Alberto Vaccarezza, El conventillo de La Paloma, which was an outstanding hit. She had the role of a girl called Doce pesos. The already mentioned conventillo (so were called the big boarding houses with numerous rooms separated by several courtyards, where people of different origin lived, especially immigrants from different parts of Europe) really existed in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa Crespo.

When, after two years of performances, she reached her 1000 presentations, she split with the cast for not neglecting her career as singer. Then she began a long tour throughout different provinces of this country and the neighboring Republic of Paraguay. Three guitarists accompanied her: Gregorio Rivero, Angel Las Heras and Nicolás Ferrari.

Her recordings are a boom and her records are everywhere.

She participated at a contest for female singers in a festival held at the Teatro Colón singing the tangos "La cumparsita" and "Taconeando", she was awarded the first prize and was honored as the «Queen of Tango». The second award was for Rosita Montemar (the first one to record the tango "Recuerdo" and the third prize was for Fedora Cabral.

She already was the first female star of tango.

In 1933, she was included in the cast of Tango, which is considered as the first Argentine movie with soundtrack. Although her debut at the movies was in 1929 on a never premiered long-length. The title of the frustrated film was Adiós Argentina and was shot in only one day directed by the Italian Mario Parpagnoli.

The year 1935, presented difficult times for Libertad's life. Firstly a supposed attempt of committing suicide, while on tour of Chile, where she might have jumped from her hotel window and an awning might have stopped her fall. Later her husband «kidnapped» her daughter and moved to the neighboring Republic of Uruguay with the girl. Libertad, by means of a well-planned operation, helped and accompanied by several friends (her new couple Alfredo Malerba, the musician Héctor Artola and others) and an attorney, went to Montevideo with the purpose of recovering her daughter. Finally she succeeded in the girl's restitution and her life went on then without such unwanted surprises.

She continued her successful artistic activity performing at important musical works, such as “Tres valses”, an adaptation of Strauss's operetta (the female singer Choly Mur, Tania's daughter, who died very young in Chile was in the cast).

She also stood out in the movies, for each film she was paid the unusual amount, for that time, of 95,000 pesos. Over twenty pictures starred her in Argentina, some titles: El alma del bandoneón, Ayúdame a vivir, Besos brujos, La ley que olvidaron, Madreselva, Puerta cerrada, Caminito de la gloria, La casa del recuerdo, Cita en la frontera, Una vez en la vida, Yo conocí a esa mujer, En el viejo Buenos Aires, Eclipse de sol, El fin de la noche, La cabalgata del circo and many more. During the shooting of the one last mentioned, a harsh argument arose between Libertad and the actress Eva Duarte, already linked with president Juan Perón, so difficulties to go on with her career sprang up and she had to emigrate to Mexico.

A new age of hits awaited her.

Her bonds with that country are so strong that until now she is still linked and working, mainly appearing in TV novels and cinema, in spite of her old age.

Her cinema performances left her role of singer at a secondary level to finally become a dramatic actress. Her debut in Mexico took place in 1947 under the direction of Luis Buñuel, on Gran Casino. She was starred in more than 40 titles, some of the famous directors that worked there with her were: Roberto Gavaldón, Tito Davison and «Indio» Emilio Fernández.

Her comebacks to Buenos Aires took place after 1955 when general Perón was no longer in charge. To tell you of her route would be hard and tiring.

In Argentina she recorded about 241 numbers (there would be probably more). She was accompanied by guitars at the beginning, later by her husband's orchestra, Alfredo Malerba. Also by the ones led by Mario Maurano, Héctor Stamponi, Víctor Buchino, by Juan D'Arienzo on two numbers, by the orchestra of Lucio Milena and by Tito Ribero's.

In Cuba she recorded four numbers, two in Spain in duet with Joselito. In Mexico 183 recordings were identified, accompanied by the local outfits of Ruiz Armengol, Chucho Zarzosa, Raúl Lavista, Chucho Ferrer and others. She sang in duets with Pedro Vargas, Miguel Aceves Mejía and with her daughter Mirta, on an opportunity.

Her over 400 recordings represent a number never reached by any other Argentine female singer and give us an idea of the importance of her art in the world of tango and our culture.