Volver Tango
Justo Piernes

Gardel’s last tuxedo

arlos Gardel always was very careful with this garment, so suitable for his looks. He always wanted that it were the best.

In Spain he went to the most famous tailors of Barcelona so that they would make the tuxedo he would later wear in his movies.

When he was based in New York, because of the shooting of Cuesta abajo, El tango en Broadway, El día que me quieras, Tango Bar and his appearance in Cazadores de estrellas, the singer was not at ease with the tuxedos that he had bought in that city.

Then a casual event took place during the shooting of the film El día que me quieras: He came to know Francisco Flores del Campo, a Chilean young actor and vocalist of a jazz orchestra that played at the cabaret of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

«One evening —says Flores del Campo himself— the Mexican actress Rosita Moreno invited me to her table. She told me she wanted to introduce me to Gardel and, in fact, there he was with his wide welcoming smile. He shook my hand and introduced me to Alfredo Le Pera. I was greatly surprised when Rosita told me that she had suggested Gardel to audition me for the role of young leading actor. It came true and I was Gardel’s son-in-law in fiction.

«Gardel made no differences when dealing with people, he regarded everybody in the same way. He made us feel like an old friend of his. The first day of the shooting he approached me and said: “Kid, so you are Chilean, don’t you? Then you surely know this song from your land. He sat at the piano and after a few chords he sang Osmán Pérez Freire’s “Ay ay ay” .

«On one of those days, during the shooting of the movie, I saw him looking at me in a special way. He came close to me and asked me later: “Tell me, kid. Where have you had that tuxedo made? I’m not satisfied with the ones I’m wearing here”. And he added: “I had no other like the one they made me in Barcelona”.

«I told him it had been made for me in New York. Since then he never left me alone. The following day, in the morning, he was looking for me at the hotel. As soon as he saw me he told me as a plea: “I must apologize for coming at this hour but it’s necessary that you take me to the tailor’s”.

«So we went on the car that always drove him. We crossed half of the city. It was nice to see his amazed face when he knew that the tailor was a Catalonian. He was finally very happy with his look. On coming back he commented to me: “You see, dear Chilean, I had to cross the Atlantic ocean to find here in New York the tailor that made me the tuxedo I like”.

«On the following days, during the breaks in the shooting, Gardel stood before me and, with that way he had to express certain things, he told me with an understanding look and tone: “See, boy, with these tuxedos we’re winners. You’re grand, kid!”

«When the movie was over, Gardel personally said goodbye to every fellow worker. He did not even omit the stagehands.

«The last thing I remember of him was his smile. I never saw him again because he embarked on a trip of no return. I keep in my mind the time of our farewell and, also when at the end of the movie he sings “Volver” while he was holding Rosita Moreno and me in a hug. He was singing on the spot and we were all touched by a spell».

Excerpted from the Tiempo Argentino newspaper, June 1985.