Alberto Vila

Real name: Vila, Alberto
Singer and actor
(25 September 1903 - 23 February 1981)
Place of birth:
Montevideo Uruguay
Horacio Loriente

very personal singer, born in Montevideo on September 25, 1903. His career started after a private rehearsal for the high staff of the Atenienses one evening in August 1927, an event always remembered by Víctor Soliño's privileged memory, singing for the occasion the stanzas of the popular tango “Siga el corso”.

He made his debut with the Troupe Ateniense at the Solís Theater of Montevideo on October 6, 1927, imitating Carlos Gardel. He continued his appearances when the well-known outfit began to perform at the Coliseo Theater of Buenos Aires and the Victor company offered him a contract for recording discs that he began to fulfill on December 12, 1927, committing to record four numbers, which would be included in his first two records, three of them Uruguayan tangos and a waltz by Antonio Sureda and Homero Manzi, “Ensueño”. It is worth while remembering the tangos “Perdonala”, de Juan Agnese, Víctor Soliño and Roberto Fontaina, “Niño bien”, de Juan Antonio Collazo, V. Soliño and Roberto Fontaina and “Che papusa oí”, by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez with lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo.

Alberto Vila was still in Montevideo, working as an official at the Banco de Cobranzas and frequently traveled to Buenos Aires to fulfill his recording obligations. On April 12, 1928 he played as soloist in renditions for records of the Troupe Ateniense on three splendid songs: “Golondrinas [b]” (zamba), “En un pueblito español” [In A Little Spanish Town] (waltz) and “Príncipe azul” (fox-trot).

In 1929, having nearly made up his decision to make a tour of Europe, in July of that year he received a telegram from Radio Prieto of Buenos Aires with the offer of a contract for a three-month gig, that he accepted and carried out. His presence in Buenos Aires awoke the interest of the impresarios of the theaters Empire and Florida, with a splendid pay, which convinced him to definitively resign to his job to fully devote to his artistic activities.

He made tours throughout Argentina, alternated with frequent appearances in Montevideo. In January 1933 he sang on Radio El Espectador and Sport, accompanied on that occasion by a guitar trio lined-up by Baudino, Pardo and Pérez.

In the mid- 30s, he has a brilliant activity as actor in the Argentine cinema, where he is as well showcased as singer. Radio Bar (1936) included him in the cast together with Lidia and Violeta Desmond, Alicia Barrié, Gloria Guzmán and Juan Carlos Thorry and the orchestra of Elvino Vardaro. That movie is followed by Cuatro corazones (1939), Retazo (1939), La casa del recuerdo and Confesión (1940), traveling to the United States to take part in the film Se conocieron en la Argentina, with the actress Maureen O'Hara, where accompanied by Lud Gluskin's orchestra he sang in English and Spanish. It was the year 1941.

On his comeback to Buenos Aires he has outstanding works in the movies again. In 1942 in Mañana me suicido and Amor último modelo. Finally, in 1946 he appeared in Camino del infierno and Adiós pampa mía.

It is worth-noting that Alberto Vila also worked in movies in Montevideo. On August 17, 1938 Soltero soy feliz was premiered at the disappeared Ambassador theater on Julio Herrera y Obes street between 18 de Julio and San José streets, where the famous artist was showcased together with Ramón Collazo, head of the cast.

Years later (1946), in a River Plate production he played in Los tres mosqueteros, whose principal scenes were shot at the grand staircases of our beautiful Parque Capurro.

He performed at unforgettable seasons on the main radio stations in Buenos Aires. His naturalness and his authentic pleasantness to which he added his singing so personal allowed him to be a true winner.

In the plenitude of his splendid artistic capacities, when he still was in full youth, Alberto Vila put an end to his career as actor and singer. Based in Buenos Aires, he embarked on some business, quite far from places of his success.

Being in Montevideo, surrounded by his family relatives, a heart attack took him by surprise on February 23, 1981.

Originally published in the book Ochenta notas de Tango. Perfiles Biográficos, Ediciones de La Plaza, Montevideo 1998. Sponsored by the Academia de Tango del Uruguay.