Tribute to the centenary of Lola Flores, the first flamenco superstar
Celia Cruz, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Gary Cooper and Marlon Brando worked with her and even became good friends.
They say that the pharaohs disappeared 3,500 years ago, but they do not know that Spain we are celebrating the centenary of the birth of Lola Flores, La Faraona. The tribute, as in Ancient Egypt, will last for weeks and even years, since coinciding with the event, the Lola Flores Museum will finally open in Jerez de la Frontera, her homeland. As if it were a pyramid, the most precious objects of the folkloric singer will be kept: her flamenco costumes, some personal objects given by the family and, of course, the famous tailed gowns with which she herself asked to be buried.
Lola, Empire of Jerez
Unlike the pharaonic traditions, Lola Flores wasn't born a superstar. Like the flamencos, Lola was born into a humble Andalusian family in the San Miguel neighborhood of Cádiz. While her father ran taverns and her mother sought income from sewing, while the climate of the civil war was brewing, Lola Flores learned flamenco in the street. She herself said that even as a child, she started dancing in her father's tavern.
After trying out at private parties and christenings, she gave her first big performance at the Villamarta Theater, under the name "Lola, Imperio de Jerez" (Empire of Jerez). And from there, she was signed by Fernando Mignoni for the big screen. In the following years, between promises of tours and performances, the Flores family sold the tavern to move to Madrid. However, what happened to Lola happened to most artists. Difficult and precarious beginnings led her to reconsider leaving everything and returning to Jerez. What would have become of that Spain without Lola Flores?
Lola, the multimillionaire
However, as the gurus of financial freedom say today, Lola Flores hit it big when she took a risk and took charge of her own work. She set up the show Zambra (1943) and hired the highly acclaimed Manolo Caracol. She, so young, signing a singing legend!
It not only impressed, it amazed. Because the chemistry of the two artists was real, because singing about the impossible love between the two was authentic. Some of Lola and Manolo's hits that are already history come from there: Niña de fuego, Zarzamora or La Salvaora, songs of forbidden desire in the middle of the dictatorship years.
"Inside my soul I have a fountain
for your guilt to drink from".
Despite the time, the success was so resounding that Lola ended up appearing on NO-DO while signing the first multimillionaire artistic contract in Spain. In it she committed to tour America, expanding her stardom internationally.
A movie person
Perhaps, because of how her legacy is known, it may not be as well known that Lola established herself by making 38 films. She rubbed shoulders with actors such as Rita Hayworth, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando or Ava Gardner, whom she invited to the christening of her son Antonio.
But as she herself believed, more than the movies, what she transcended is the diva. She knew how to move between the press and television. Her personality was a perfect combination of power, passion, charm and simplicity. Hence those moments that remained in the collective memory, as, for example, when she loses an earring on stage and makes the whole audience look for it; when in El perro verde (a TV Show) she recommends to compensate a night of excesses with a good stew; or when she gets around the writer Paco Umbral, who adored her and who dedicates a whole book to her, because being as always so visionary, he already considered her a myth of Spain:
"Lola Flores is a gale of pure qualities in a world of quantities".
Forever, Lola de España
Lola Flores did not leave the stage until her last day. She performed alongside other great folklore artists (putting in doubt that folklore artists are like soccer matches, everyone has their favorite signings), but also with stars such as Julio Iglesias, Celia Cruz or Raphael. Although the most iconic duet would have been with Federico García Lorca, since no one recited his poems like Lola.
Between her home and Caripén, the tablao that she set up with her husband Antonio González (El Pescaílla), the movement of stars never ceased throughout her life. Even when breast cancer struck, with a trickle of duende, Lola would go on stage. In the end it was as if the stages were going to her funeral. Thousands of people passed by and knelt down in front of her. In the archives remain the statements of the people in those days of mourning. Words full of life and love for the artist.
Because "eye shine cannot be operated", and yours, Lola, are still shining.
González, Sete. Lola Flores. The art of living.
Umbral, Francisco. Lola Flores. Sociology of the Petenera.