Homero Cárpena

Real name: Cárpena, Homero Arnaldo
Actor, director of theatre and lyricist
(14 February 1910 - 17 January 2001)
Place of birth:
Mar del Plata (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

e described himself as a movie worker, a good definition if we take into account that he appeared in around 150 motion pictures throughout sixty years.

In the history of the Argentine cinema, save for a few exceptions, he was the «bad guy» par excellence. Furthermore, a complete pervert. His merit was in achieving it only with a sidelong glance, a special rictus of his lips and the precise tone of his voice, something that was not within reach of any actor but which for him was spontaneous.

He impersonated a whole gallery of sinister characters, he even was the first «gay guy» when he was starred as Pocholo in the movie “Los tres berretines” (1933). A very delicate and well- dressed boy that uses words in French when talking with the lady householder and her daughter whom he accompanies in different sorties.

Also as a transvestite, in one of the last films featuring Luís Sandrini, “El Profesor Tirabombas”, he impersonated the sister of the rector of a school. And he was a thug, bodyguard, informer, always threatening, even as servant or butler. He was never lead actor, his parts were always secondary.

Even though he appeared in some important movies of the national filmography, most of them were comedies of scarce quality.

In an interview he said: «I liked cheerful things and I was a happy fellow, but quite soon I was requested for playing parts as a bad guy in the movies. Probably they liked my work but they stuck to that to such an extent that I accepted it with humor and several times I answered the phone asking: «What murderer do I have to impersonate?»

«My father was a baker, anarchist and actor in the circus when it consisted of two sections, the first one with acrobats and things of the like and the second with a theatrical show at the manege».

Homero, naturally, found himself following his father’s steps in his hometown. When he settled in the Federal Capital he worked in the movies and the theater, but the latter was his greater vocation. Very early he succeeded in having his own theatrical company, his first play was “Juancito de la Ribera”, a sainete by Alberto Vaccarezza (1928).

He joined many other theatrical companies. He used to recall with pleasure the one fronted by Arturo García Buhr and Gloria Guzmán and, in the same way, the so called Teatro Universal, with a large number of actors that later had a renowned career. Among others: Francisco Petrone and Mario Soffici.

Homero said: «This group worked as a cooperative and each play of the repertoire was directed by a different actor each time. The most successful one was “El diablo mete la cola”, by Carl Erik Soya, which had several reprises. The cooperative benefited me because it allowed me, in some cases, free time to get other jobs, especially, in the movies. It was a time when I got a lot of money but I spent it all».

His endorsement to Peronism led him to an exile in Spain when Perón’s government was overthrown in 1955. He had to flee with his family: his wife Haydée Larroca, movie, theater and television actress (1920-2003) and his daughters Nora and Claudia, also devoted to show business.

For several years, in the 90s, he was director of La Casa del Teatro. Between 1953 and 1955 he tried his luck as movie director. Five movies were shot but two of them were never premiered.

As for his concern for tango; he made the adaptation of the screenplay of the movie “El cielo en las manos” (1950). Because of him the music of it was in charge of Astor Piazzolla whom he had met as a kid in Mar del Plata. In it the tango with the same title, by Piazzolla and Cárpena himself, was included. It was sung by Edmundo Rivero who also committed to record. Thereafter, he directed the motion picture “Stella Maris” in which he again summoned Piazzolla for its soundtrack.

Osvaldo Fresedo recorded four of his numbers, all them with music by Roberto Pansera: “Del tiempo de Gardel” (1950) and “Sombra de humo”, both recorded by Armando Garrido (1951), “Trenza de ocho”, sung by Carlos Barrios (1955); “Qué lejos mi Buenos Aires”, with Hugo Marcel (1959).

With Alberto Cima he wrote “Camino gris”. There are also two songs that stand out with music by Peteco Carabajal, at that time his son-in-law, “Cinema Paradiso” and “Sofía”.

He was never a leading figure either in the movies or in the theater. As author he was proud of having been by Fresedo’s side and that Piazzolla was his collaborator, but those who have followed the history of our cinema will never forget his presence.

«My passion was always theater, but I admit that when I learnt most was in the movies. My greatest satisfaction was, after a premiere, getting to know that the public hated me. I had complied with the type of performance they had asked me».