Jorge Alberto Negrete Moreno (November 30, 1911 – December 5, 1953) is considered one of the most popular Mexican singers and actors of all time.
Negrete was born in Guanajuato where he was raised together with his brother and three sisters: David, Consuelo, Emilia and Teresa, and also lived in San Luis Potosí. He graduated with the rank of sub-lieutenant from El Colegio Militar, Mexico’s military academy.
Handsome, with a very strong will and a trained, fascinating voice, he is still a top idol in Mexico, Spain and Latin America, more than 50 years after his death. His recording of “México Lindo y Querido” (“Beautiful and Beloved México”), his country’s unofficial anthem, is the best known recording of the song.
His career is often compared to that of Pedro Infante, the best known and most popular Mexican actor of the time. The public rivalry didn’t carry over to their private lives, as they were close friends until Negrete’s death.
He married twice, to famous actresses with whom he shared credits: Elisa Christy (with whom he had a daughter, Diana Negrete) and María Félix. He also lived with his frequent co-star, for more than ten years. Gloria Marín co-starred in 10 out of his 44 films.
He started his career singing on the radio in 1931 in Mexico City singing operatic parts. In 1936 he signed with NBC for a television program with Cuban and Mexican musicians. He returned to Mexico in 1937 to act in the film “La Madrina Del Diablo” (“The Devil’s Godmother”) and because of the success of the film he was able to sign for several more the next three years.
In 1938 he starred in “La Valentina” with Elisa Christy and then in “Juntos Pero No Revueltos” (“Together But Not Mixed”).
After working in Havana and Hollywood he was called to act in “¡Ay Jalisco, No Te Rajes!” (“Hey Jalisco, Don’t Back Down!”) which made him an international Latin star and helped formulate the charro film genre. Filming this movie he met Gloria Marín, starting their romance and the string of movies they filmed together. He complemented his film career by singing rancheras with the trio Los Tres Calaveras and touring Latin America, singing concerts and making personal appearances.
He was offered the main role in “El Peñon de las Animas” (“The Rock of Souls”) and wanted Marín to be his co-star. In spite of his protests, newcomer María Félix became his star and eventually his wife, although they at first despised each other while filming the movie.
He was one of the founders, and the most important leader, of the Mexican Actors Association (ANDA), succeeding Mario Moreno “Cantinflas” as its chairman. He was a fierce advocate for the rights of film professionals in Mexico.
He was the first to die of the Tres Gallos Mexicanos, or ‘Three Mexican Roosters’ (as he, Infante and Javier Solís, a younger star, were called; the three died within a span of 13 years).
Negrete died in Los Angeles during a professional visit, of hepatitis, an illness with which he had been infected while working as a musician in New York. According to his wishes, his body was flown back to, and buried in, Mexico City.
He had only one daughter and five grandchildren, one of them is also a singer Rafael Negrete. Thousands of fans attended his funeral and followed the hearse to the cemetery, El Panteón Jardín, where he was buried in the actors corner.
On December 5, fans still pay tribute to the El Charro Cantor (Singing Mexican Horseman) at his tomb, and television and radio stations stage marathons of his films and songs.