Alfredo Le Pera

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About Alfredo Le Pera

Alfredo LePera was the lyricist and close associate of the legendary tango singer Carlos Gardel, and perished in the same freak plane crash that also claimed Gardel's life at the height of his international popularity. LePera was born in São Paulo, Brazil, on June 7, 1900; his parents were Italian immigrants who relocated to Buenos Aires in 1902. LePera initially made his living as a journalist and theater critic, and got involved in the movie business in 1928 after traveling across the United States and Europe. He worked for Paramount for several years while living in Paris, and in 1932 the studio assigned him to work with Argentinian tango star Carlos Gardel in hopes of breaking Gardel to a more international audience. LePera wrote the scripts for a series of Gardel films, and also penned the lyrics to the tango songs Gardel composed and performed in those films, which constituted the vast majority of his repertoire during the '30s. Together they turned out classic after classic which succeeded mightily in broadening Gardel's audience across the Spanish-speaking world; LePera's lyrics were intelligent yet simple, with universal references and metaphors that could be understood no matter what Spanish variant or dialect might be spoken in a particular country. Unfortunately, as it turned out, their international success would cost them dearly. Gardel and LePera were wrapping up a promotional tour for the film El Dia Que Me Quieras when, on June 24, 1935, they boarded a plane in Medellín, Colombia. Something went wrong during takeoff, and the plane crashed into another plane on the runway, killing nearly everyone onboard and robbing Argentina of its greatest songwriting team. ~ Steve Huey

São Paulo
June 8, 1902
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