Of all the lives the actor and comedian had Miguel Gila, his appearance on Argentine television is remembered with his Hispanic accent and a particular grace: dressed in a war uniform and with an old telephone in hand he ordered: “What to wear!”.
This Tuesday 13 twenty years have passed since his death, in Barcelona. And what better way than to remember him executing that comedy step in those Circular Saturdays from Pipo Mancera, the cycle that popularized that skinny “Galician” who lived off humor and survived the war.
The idyll of Gila -according to a commemorative report prepared by Télam for this date- with the Argentine public was established immediately and lasted several decades, because in addition to his crazy characters that added tenderness and erudition, he also wrote in graphic publications, edited books and drew very effective jokes in which he seemed to represent himself.
Miguel Gila: Let it be.
As an actor he had started with roles not very celebrated in Spanish cinema and achieved a certain poster in My uncle jacinto, a 1956 melodrama promoting the “child prodigy” Pablito Calvo (“Marcelino bread and wine”); and in Argentina he seconded Palito Ortega in Boy are you singing (1971) and also acted in Command operation (1979).
But here he is remembered for his appearances in Circular Saturdays de Mancera (1962-1964), where his one-man interventions never fell into bad taste and created expressions that ended up integrating into everyday speech.
Gila was, although he did not shout it at the top of his voice, a politician, a republican who came to these lands “due to a feeling of dictatorship” Franco, in his own words, which took Buenos Aires as headquarters, extended to the neighboring countries, he drew and edited books, made a magazine in Mexico and radio in Venezuela, until in 1985 he returned forever to Spain.
Gila presented his second book of experiences “Memories of an exile. Argentina mon amour”, in March 1998. EFE / LUIS TORRES / ARCHIVE
Many of Gila’s expressions were tainted by war: “They shot us badly” was one of them and behind the absurdity an episode appears that was real: “I was not afraid of death. I was so exhausted, so eaten by lice, by hunger, cold, tiredness and thirst, that dying could be a liberation“, He said.
The night he was shot
According to a Hispanic review, in his autobiography And then I was born. Memories for the forgetful (1995), Gila told about the night he was “shot.” In December 1938, when there were still five months to go to the end of the war, his gang had already given up wandering the fields of Córdoba: without ammunition, without trucks and without water, they were captured by the Francoists.
Gila was a volunteer soldier for the Unified Socialist Youth in the Spanish civil war.
It was raining and his regiment was waiting to pay “the price of defeat”: their coats, boots and blankets had been taken from them and they had been laid on the ground while their captors looted a farm. “The owner, a woman in her 30s, left the house screaming: ‘Long live Franco! Long live Franco! ‘. It was of no use to her: they raped her together, “Gila wrote.
The “execution” was to be carried out by a group of “Moors” – soldiers brought from Africa by Franco – absolutely drunk, “with their mouths full of screams and laughter and their hands squeezing the necks of the stolen chickens,” he said. The alcohol distracted the executioners from the formalities: they shot the 14 prisoners only once, without finishing them off with the coup de grace, and continued to drink while roasting the stolen chickens.
The future humorist, 19 years old, spent the whole night playing dead in the mud, the rain and the blood of those who had actually fallen by the bullets. At dawn he recognized a corporal, wounded but survivor, he made a tourniquet on his leg so that he would not bleed and ended up carrying him on his shoulder to a nearby town: “Corporal Villegas did not weigh much and I was a strong boy, but the terror of the shooting had loosened my legs“, he narrated.
A phone was all Gila needed to make viewers laugh at his performances.
The socialist who lived to tell the tale
Born in Madrid in 1919, He was one of the most famous Spaniards in the Argentine media. He had made the Civil War his workhorse and between his crazy telephone conversations he could ask the “enemy” what time the war was going to continue, since he was first interested in listening to football.
Gila did not need psychoanalysis to elaborate his terrible war memories; He used his art and his caustic humor – which he expressed with a smile of innocence bordering on the stupefied – to overcome a host of terrible experiences that he transformed into absurdity; Despite the time he was about to die, he could live to tell about it.
Born in Madrid in 1919, he was an actor, comedian and cartoonist.
His political orientation did not prevent him from entertaining one and the other: he was imprisoned several times – in one he shared a prison with the poet Miguel Hernández – and at the end of the war, in 1939, still behind bars, he began to practice his cartoons.
Gila claimed that He had no political identity since he broke his Socialist Youth card minutes before being captured that night of execution by the “Moors” and since 1951 – long before the “empacho dictatorship” – he wrote and drew in the famous magazine The quail and entertained popular audiences from the stages of the Fontalba theater, Madrid, and others.
Gila stood out as a comedian in Sábados circulares (1962-1964) and Al Estilo de Mancera (1978).
He said that humor is the wickedness of men said with childish naivety and his anecdotes about the day-to-day life of the war showed that that saying that ensures that “comedy is only the result of pain and the passage of time” could come true even in a country with such poorly healed scars, such as Spain. from the 1950s.
Between 1993 and 1994 he made several programs on public television in his country, under the title of From who?, with his unalterable humor despite the passing of the years and in which his companion was, logically, the telephone tube. Some of these performances are available on the networks.