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Jorge Negrete

As a pivotal figure in the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, Jorge Negrete participated in the entertainment industries of both the United States and his native Mexico. Negrete was born in 1911 in Guanajuato, Mexico. His father was a general and, after retirement, became a schoolteacher. Negrete showed academic aptitude at a young age but left the traditional school system to enroll in a military academy, from which he graduated with various honors at age eighteen, studied medicine, and became a hospital administrator. While in the military he developed a fascination with music, which he pursued in 1930 by taking voice lessons with opera director José Pierson. The following year, he began singing professionally on the radio station XEF and retired from the military. While working for the radio, he found it hard to transition from his formal operatic training to the popular musical form of ranchera, but gradually gained acclaim. He made his stage debut in Mexico in 1935 but traveled to New York in 1936 and found work as a singer and actor. His first film, produced by Warner Bros.—the short Cuban Nights—premiered in 1937 and Negrete would act regularly in films until his death in 1953. In 1941 his role in ¡Ay Jalisco, no te rajes! established the charro film genre and Negrete became “El Charro Cantor,” the singing cowboy. He toured Latin America to sold-out theaters. Negrete helped found and was the third leader of the Mexican Actors’ Association, which came into conflict with the government. At the time of his death from complications related to hepatitis C in late 1953, he had acted in thirty-eight films and had had a series of hit songs within the ranchera and charro genres.