- Mayo, Alfredo
- (1911-1985)One of the iconic actors of the early Franco period, Alfredo Mayo represented in the minds of audiences the bravery, self-restraint, and virility of the military hero. His most important part was in José Luis Sáenz de Heredia's Raza (Race, 1941), where he played General Francisco Franco's alter ego José Churruca. He started his film career before the Civil War in 1935, and it was interrupted when he joined the Fascist army. He became a star in the early postwar era with Harka! (Carlos Arévalo, 1942), a film on the foreign legion with strong homoerotic undertones. His military men were almost a cliché in the early 1940s, when he starred in several war films, including ¡A mí la legión! (On with the Legion! Juan de Orduña, 1942), Escuadrilla (The Squadron, Antonio Román, 1941), and El frente de los suspiros (The Front of Sighs, Juan de Orduña, 1942). In the next decade, the kind of values he had come to represent were dissolving, and his career floundered (in that decade, he made half as many films as in the previous one), but he continued to work in comedies and dramas, including Suspenso en comunismo (Failing in Communism, Eduardo Manzanos Brochero, 1956), La playa prohibida (Forbidden Beach, Julián Soler, 1956), and the box-office hit El último cuplé (The Last Torch Song, Juan de Orduña, 1957), where he played a cameo.After losing popular favor, Mayo was recovered at least twice. First, in 1965, after a few years of weak roles and co-productions, Carlos Saura used his iconic qualities effectively to represent a fascist ex-combatant in La caza (The Hunt, 1966). Then, during the Transition years, he participated in Gonzalo Herralde's reworking of Raza, Raza, El espíritu de Franco (Race, Franco's Spirit, 1977), and he was featured in a number of films. Some of these were simply popular commercial comedies, but more ironically, he was used as a patriarch in more substantial projects like Los restos del naufragio (Remains of the Shipwreck, Ricardo Franco, 1978), Patrimonio nacional (National Heritage, Luis G. Berlanga, 1981), and Hablamos esta noche (Tonight We Talk, Pilar Miró, 1982), as well as in the popular television series Cañas y barro (Mud and Reeds, 1978). He kept on working until shortly before his death.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.