On October 11, 1904, Laura Ana Merello was born, the beloved actress and singer Tita Merello, who left an indelible mark as an artist and as a woman. She was born in a tenement in San Telmo, located at 715 Defensa Street, where there is a memorial plaque in her name.
She was the daughter of an Argentine driver, Santiago Merello, who died early due to tuberculosis. And the Uruguayan ironer, Ana Gianelli. At five years old, after the death of her father, she was moved to an orphanage because her mother could not take care of her.
After living in various places and working as a maid, she returned to the tenement at the age of 12. She was never able to attend school, she received formal education from Simón Irigoyen Iriondo. Her loneliness, poverty and emotional abandonment marked her personality.
“I got dressed. I made a dress to fight the arrogant life. But you will realize that I am a little dog. I must have been a dog in another generation because they give me tenderness and I wag my tail. I have lived my entire life longing for tenderness, which is the best of feelings because it includes love and passion. They treat me well and get anything from me. Vanity, stupidity, arrogance are useless,” declared Tita.
At just 13 years old she made her debut as a chorus girl in a zarzuela at the Teatro Avenida, located at Av. De Mayo 1222, in the Monserrat neighborhood. It was 1922 when she performed at El Bataclán, a theater in Bajo Flores, and then arrived at the Maipo Theater, located at 443 Esmeralda Street, in the San Nicolás neighborhood, where she sang her first tango “Trago Amargo”. ”.
She was called the most real of tango, due to her preferences for humorous, ironic or sarcastic tangos. She conquered the public with her suburban status, her ease, her habit of saying what she thought and felt.
“I sing with the same tone as 40 years ago. Did I impose the voice? No. Did I learn singing? No. Did I go to study dramatic art? No. Dramatic art is on Corrientes Street, narrow, when you walk all night without having anywhere to sleep. That's where you learn drama. There you learn the pauses, the tone. In prayer, in despair, you learn,” she declared verbatim.
Tita felt that she had to transmit what was testimonial and rebellious, which is why some of her favorite tangos were: ¡Qué vachaché!, Cambalache, Yira Yira, ¿ donde hay un mango?, Tranquilo, Viejo, Tranquil, Soy un harlequín, Los amores con the crisis, What are you doing, what are you doing!, What a mask!, Che, Bartolo. Some with autobiographical overtones such as: It says about me, Arrabalera, Pipistrela, Dark Graciela, La milonga y yo, Soledad, la de Barracas, among others.
She chose her repertoire, her way of expressing it and thus created her style, between reciting and singing. She emphasized deliberate musical saying and recitation, which ended with unexpected gestures and folds in the expression of her face, without ever losing control of diction or comedy steps.
The milonga that she made emblematic of her repertoire, “Se dice de mí”, with lyrics by Ivo Pelay and music by Francisco Canaro, is representative of a brave woman, with a strong character and who is not at all interested in the conventions of social manners. and physical. The original lyrics were designed to be sung by a man, given that the protagonist was an extravagant, mischievous character who showed off his ugliness. But the female version would achieve extraordinary success when it was recorded by Tita Merello with Francisco Canaro's orchestra on July 23, 1954 and was included in the Argentine film “Mercado de Abasto”, directed by Lucas Demare.
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Tita Merello stood out as a theater and film actress. In theater, in 1949, she reached five hundred performances with the production “Filomena Marturano”. But cinema allowed her to consolidate her acting strength: she made 15 unforgettable films. The cinema imagined her as the owner of patios, corralones, a ranch in Tigre or with a position in Abasto.
Among those films are: Tango (1933): the first Argentine sound film. There she demonstrates her virtues as a suburban muse in the interpretation of the tangos “I am like this for love” and “Don't leave your neighborhood.”
“Noches de Buenos Aires” (1935): she puts herself in the shoes of a singer in love, without illusions, with a man who does not take her into account. She shines in a tango recited at the table of a nightclub.
“Ashes in the Wind” (1942): she plays a prostitute in whom Pedro López Lagar finds, briefly, his warrior rest.
“Don Juan Tenorio” (1948): she gives life to Brígida, an eternal second fiddle and draws her role with the details of a great actress. Tita offers great tenderness in her speeches.
“Filomena Marturano” (1950): The film adds some retrospective data on the life of the protagonist. She performs two tangos “Milongón porteño” and “Pipistrela”. The story revolves around a woman who pretends to be dying so that her lover will marry her.
“Arrabalera” (1950): A portrait of a single mother who, for once, manages to drive away her ghosts and consolidate happiness for her loved ones. Tita demonstrates her great sincerity for the drama.
“Los Isleros” (1951): The director embodies prototypes of old Creole settlers: astute, wise, resigned. Merello obtains an exact portrait of the islander.
“Living a Moment” (1951): She plays Julia, a former victim of white slavery, owner and lady of her business on the riverside, to whom her love comes late.
“It happened in my neighborhood” (1951): Costumbrista melodrama. Tita puts herself in the shoes of Dominga, a Creole, faithful and hardworking, who maintains her husband's inn while he is in prison for an accidental crime. In this film she establishes herself as a great Argentine tragic actress.
“Dishonor” (1952): In this film she has a different role, that of Isabel, a high society woman, paralyzed by an accident caused by her husband, with neurotic and insecure characteristics.
“Mercado de Abasto” (1955): A mixture of farce and melodrama in which she plays Paulina, a humble fairground woman who, deceived by a vile man, becomes pregnant and marries a good man whom she does not love.
“To dress saints” (1955): There she is Martina, a factory worker in love with a singer, who deceives her and loses her savings in a horse race. Tita handles sarcasm, tenderness and verbal aggression and pain.
“Love Never Dies” (1955): The story revolves around the humble mother with a university-aged son who hides her from her in-laws, only to end up recognizing her mistake.
“La Morocha” (1955, released in 1958): Mecha is a sex professional who lives a great love with a young musician whom she helps at the expense of her personal sacrifice.
“La Madre María” (1974), directed by Lucas Demare based on his own script written in collaboration with Augusto Roa Bastos on an idea by Roa Bastos, Tomás Eloy Martínez, David José Kohon and Héctor Grossi. Based on the life of María Salomé Loredo, she is famous for her healings and assistance to the poor in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century.
After the coup d'état against the Perón government, Tita had to go into exile in Mexico due to lack of work. Beginning in the 1960s, upon returning to Argentina, most of her work was directed by her friend Enrique Carreras. She was a regular participant in the television series Sábados circulares and her performance in “La Madre María” (1974), directed by Lucas Demare, was highly praised by critics and gave her renewed popularity. She retired in 1985 although she continued to make public appearances and provide advice on radio and television.
In 1990 she was distinguished as “Illustrious Citizen of the City of Buenos Aires for being a “living myth of Buenos Aires iconography” and in 1991 she received the Podesta Lifetime Achievement Award. She died at the age of 98 on Christmas Eve 2002, of natural causes, at the Favaloro Foundation. At the time of her death, she had thirty-three films, twenty plays, three radio cycles and several appearances in magazine and television shows to her credit.
She was left with the admiration that millions of Argentines gave her, listening to her sing on stage or admiring her during her time in film and television. “I ask all Argentines not to forget me. Thank you for believing that I was something more than what I am,” declared Tita in 1999. Well, without a doubt, Tita Merello is one of the undisputed icons of our Buenos Aires culture.
In 2014, in the Carlos Gardel passage, located between Jean Jaures, Anchorena, Carlos Gardel and Zelaya streets, in the emblem