Creator of Legendary Besame mucho Consuelo Velazquez
Creator of Legendary Besame mucho Consuelo Velazquez
Time irreparably destroyed her appearance, and she herself didn’t like her reflection in the mirror. She really lived the life of another woman, not the one who created Besame Mucho. And that Consuelita, like admirers affectionately called her at the height of glory, long ago died. Buried in the soul of this unrecognizable lady with a nervous tic and swollen eyes – a consequence of kidney disease.
Velazquez was only 20 years old when, in 1944, she first came to Los Angeles, and not just to Los Angeles – Hollywood. The timid Mexican Consuelo, accompanied by her mother, who did not take her eyes off her, then still did not believe that she was a celebrity! Of course, she dreamed of becoming famous, but not for one song! In particular, she wanted to become a great classical pianist, because she graduated from the National Conservatory in Mexico City and already performed with concerts at the Palace of Fine Arts and on the radio.
Noteworthy, Consuelita herself learned to play melodies on the piano by ear. And the piano was a gift to her older sister from her uncle. However, it was impossible to tear Consuelita off the instrument. Besides, the Velasquez family gravitated toward art and were proud of their great-grandfather – the great Spanish artist Diego Velasquez. The father of Consuelita, Isaac Velasquez del Valle, although a professional military man, wrote poetry and considered himself a poet; he died very early, leaving his wife with five daughters. Consuelita began to study in a monastic Catholic school, and Senora Velasquez even wanted the youngest daughter to eventually take monastic vows. But Consuelita from many hours of prayer began fainting and her mother had to take her home.
However, starting to seriously study music and enter the Conservatory, Consuelita realized that the strict order of monastic life is just a sinecure compared to the drill of future professional musicians. Besides, among the student pianists in those years in Mexico in general were mostly men. And a fragile girl had a hard time fulfilling the demands practicing on the piano for six to seven hours a day without days off and holidays. Over the years, Consuelita has never violated this rule. …
On that memorable May Day of 1941, which will turn her life around, 16-year-old Consuelita got up at four in the morning to have time to do homework – her seven-hour exercises. That night, on the recommendation of Serratos, she went to the theater to listen to the opera of the famous Spanish composer Enrique Granados called “Goyescas”. The music made a tremendous impression on the girl, and, having returned home almost at night, she sat down at the piano and began improvising on the theme of the heard melodies of Granados. And then, caught suddenly by a whirlwind of inspiration, for one sitting composed the melody of the famous Besame Mucho. In addition, she wrote the words: “Kiss me, kiss me harder, as if this night was the last.”
Whence to the girl who has never kissed or fallen in love, these words have come? All that she knew about love, was gleaned from sentimental Mexican films, to which Consuelita occasionally ran with a girlfriend. The next morning Velasquez missed (for the first time in life!) the conservatory classes, because she just could not lift herself from the bed before noon. She rushed to the piano and first she began to remember her song – because she woke up feeling that she had done something grandiose. And suddenly she felt ashamed: the song, which seemed beautiful and passionate at night, seemed absolutely nonsense in the daylight. And for the sake of this insignificant entertainment, she missed classes with her teacher? “Be ashamed, Consuelita!” – her mother’s voice sounded in her. And she, hiding the written song, did not allow herself to even think about it any more: her composition was in fact just some kind of frivolous obscenity!
One day, Consuelita shyly confessed to her friend Maria that she wrote the song. And Maria asked her to sing… Consulita did not expect that Maria would come to such wild rapture! Maria persuaded to send the song to the radio competition of young talents. Consuelita agreed, but took from her friend the word that she would send the song anonymously. She, a conservatory student, plays Chopin and Debussy, and then she wrote this! And if her mother heard the song? And if Don Serratos? Everyone will find that she is a dissolute person, that she has an experience that a decent girl should not have …
Who would have thought that a frivolous song would make such an indelible impression on the music editor Mariano River Conde? It did not just become the number one hit on the radio, the famous Emilio Tuero wanted to acquire the rights to perform Besame Mucho. Then Rivera also demanded that Maria Fernanda take him to the author. Consuelita blushed, turned pale and embarrassed, lowering her eyes: she did not believe that Don Rivera sincerely told her such compliments. In the end, the girl insisted that during the performance of the song her real name should not be called. Interestingly, later it will lead to the fact that people considered Besame Mucho to be folklore – whether Spanish, or Cuban.
And then began the most important adventure in the life of Consuelo Velasquez – an invitation to Hollywood. But even before that, the modest pianist was showered with money – her song Besame Mucho began to live its life, becoming in the few months of 1942 the most popular in Mexico. Mother Velasquez did not believe her ears when she learned that her own daughter had composed a “shameful song”. For three days she lay on the bed, turning to the wall, as if a great misfortune had happened. Relatives tried in vain to reassure her – the woman was sure that her Consuelita covered herself with eternal disgrace and now no one will marry her. Just think about it! Publicly admit that you are a slutty girl! Of course, the mother did not believe her daughter’s assurances that she was completely innocent, and this was just imagination.
Meanwhile, the world continued to become infected with Consuelita’s song like an epidemic, and soon it became a super hit not only in Mexico, but also in the US, in Latin America, and Europe. In fact, Besame Mucho became the first Mexican song in history to win the New York charts in 1943.
Also, Walt Disney liked the song so much that he wanted to use it on the soundtrack of his future film, and for that he invited Miss Velasquez to Los Angeles. Later, she often thought that it would be better if she did not go there; perhaps, then her subsequent life would have passed without painful regrets. Especially since Mariano Rivera, the music editor on the radio, fell in love with Consuelita to the point of insanity. And on the eve of her departure to the US appeared before Donna Velazquez to ask for permission to marry her daughter.
Happy mother looked at Mariano, as if he was the last hope of her unlucky girl … But Consuelite was only 20 years old, like all the girls, she dreamed of a beautiful romantic love that she had never experienced before. But for her Mariano caused only friendly feelings. In short, Consuelo was not at all ready to respond to Mariano’s offer. However, her mother replied:
“Of course, I accept your offer, dear Don Rivera.”
“Can we talk about this later?” Consuelita whispered to him. Mariano instantly understood everything and nodded. Of course, Donna Velazquez went to Los Angeles with her daughter – an unmarried 20-year-old Mexican girl from a decent family.
Well, having left the ship, they looked around in confusion – crowds of people met them! But some fat man had already rushed to them. The fat man cleared the way for the ladies, shouting: “I’ll go to the author of this masterpiece!” People gasped, turned around, began to sing along. Soon, Consuelita already felt that her song was sung by the whole crowded port, as if it was not a real life, but a musical. Donna Maria Velasquez’s chin was shaking. “Jesus Mary …” – she mumbled, marveling at what was happening and trying to keep the wide skirt from the gusts of a strong wind. A crowd of journalists clung tightly to the bewildered Mexican women.
Then journalists shocked embarrassed Consuelita:
– Tell the name of your lover, to whom you dedicated the song? How old were you then? Did you break up with him? Did you leave him or did he leave you?
Invited by Walt Disney himself, two Mexican ladies accommodated in a luxurious Grand Hotel. According to Consuelita, her life seemed to become a fairy tale – so strikingly it was different from her past life.
Everything was new: a touch of expensive silk bed linen, changed every day; the opportunity to luxuriate in a huge bath with foam, sparkling restaurant with crystal chandeliers, use a dozen different forks for countless delicacies, octopus salad, truffles and mango with whipped cream. And in the morning – ice champagne, served in a silver pail with ice – and in fact before traveling to America, Consuelita did not even try alcohol … Ah, how she liked the champagne and the slight excitement remaining after it!
Noteworthy, she didn’t have to torment herself with hours of daily practice on the piano! This is a separate happiness, which Consuelita was deprived from the age of 11 years. And although she had a beautiful instrument in her room, she sometimes patted it on the white cover, but did not open it. Every day Consuelita was walking along Sunset Boulevard, near their hotel, and her song rushed almost from every restaurant, from every snack bar.
In 1943 the famous Jimmy Dorsey orchestra with vocalist Kitty Cullen recorded the song. Life in America passed under the sign of Besame Mucho – played on all radio channels, at all parties, falling in love, parting, and kissing. By the way, here Consuelo found out that in Europe her song became a love talisman for couples separated by war.
… During lunch, arranged in a Disney country house, he did not take his eyes off Consuelita, from which she clearly embarrassed and looked away. The black-eyed Consuelita, a tall, gorgeous beauty, spoke in a low, timid voice… Looking at the Mexican, Disney was afraid of falling in love with this girl at his age of 43! And yet he got carried away and after three days caught himself thinking about her …
Every morning, Disney sent his long white limousine to her and a chauffeur in white livery drove first to the most expensive shops where the girl for the first time bought herself a variety of outfit. She was trying on dresses, spinning in front of a mirror and was hearing from sellers compliments about her shape and appearance.
All Hollywood wished to get acquainted with the author of the most popular love song. And usually when she appeared somewhere at a party, the first thing she had to autographs. Besides, she totally did not realize who kissed her hand and clinked glasses with her champagne.. Indeed, among these people were such celebrities as Rita Hayworth, Esther Williams, Orson Welles, Errol Flynn, Gregory Peck, Clark Gable, and many more …
In old age, Consuelo Velasquez admits that this was the highest emotional upsurge in her life, the emotional Everest. However, until the end of life, Velasquez will seem to have written this song for Gregory Peck, as if anticipating in advance his appearance in her life and a flash of love for him. Probably, from here appeared a persistent legend, according to which she has created the masterpiece, looking at a photo of the American actor.
But in those early years he was not so well known, especially in Mexico. After the fifth glass of champagne so beloved by Consuelita, Gregory offered her a ride on a gig and she boldly agreed. However, Peck did not get what he wanted – to sleep with her, although he perfectly saw the love of a young Mexican girl to him. Indeed, strict Catholic education made it possible to resist. Consuelita, gazing enthusiastically at Gregory, quite seriously repeated that everything is possible only after the wedding. She really believed that he would like to marry her – he often told her about it, complaining about serious problems with his wife – a skinny little Greta Kukkonen.
There really were problems, but they mostly concerned his immoderate addiction to alcohol. Sometimes Peck disappeared for two or three days, saying to Consuelita that he was rehearsing. In fact, he arranged friendly drinking parties for a few days, in which his wife took part. And, of course, attended all the Hollywood parties, often lasted until dawn.
And what about Disney? He came up with a way to keep Consuelo in Los Angeles: he would give her a role in his film Three Caballero. On the day of the screen test, Consuelita was shaking with excitement – she really wanted to stay in this city of eternal holiday and champagne, next to Gregory. And she wanted to change her life, her profession – in fact, why not become an actress? She learned Los Angeles better than the native Mexico City for a month.
In the meantime, Gregory was hospitalized, he had an ankle operation. Velasquez decided to visit him. Having bought his favorite marzipans and ice cream, Miss Velasquez timidly knocked at the door of the chamber. No one answered, and she quietly looked inside. Back to the door at the table was Gregory, undressed, and on the table lay a woman.
Weeping, disappointed, she rushed to the hotel, where her worried mother was waiting for her. At once, Donna Velasquez told her daughter that Walt Disney talked to her in person and said that Consuelo didn’t pass the test. And she couldn’t become an actress.
– So, we’re going home? – asked Donna Velasquez hopefully, who had already been tired of cinema halls, a hotel and strangers.
… So, her adventure ended. With no one bidding farewell, Consuelo Velasquez hurriedly left the hotel. In Mexico City, she, without hesitation, accepted the proposal of Mariano Rivera, forever imprisoning herself in the jail of a measured and boring family life. The birth of two sons did not give her the opportunity to perform concerts, and Consuelo settled for a long time at home, turning into an eternally annoyed housewife.
Ten years later, Gregory Peck, who was on tour in Mexico City, told her – Why did you leave then? You’re just crazy! Such an abnormal as you, I have never seen in my life!
He found the address of Velazquez and came to visit her. Consuelo just gasped when she heard that he said: it turns out that she brilliantly passed the tests, Disney was ecstatic, repeated that the second Dolores del Rio would come out of it. Accordingly, he prepared for her an astronomical contract; today she would be a Hollywood star, Peck’s partner!
So, what’s happened? It turns out that the mother, hearing that Disney is going to offer Consuelo to act in Hollywood, said on behalf of her daughter that she categorically refused the contract and returns to Mexico to get married.
Peck left, leaving Consuelo in utter confusion, torn apart by opposing feelings. The strongest thing was to run after him: as it turned out, the first love still lived in her heart. But children, household, Mariano and his strict diet, a sense of duty and the evil tongues of relatives; her age, finally …
Consuelo has aged, and her creation has always remained in the most romantic and tender of all possible ages. Trying to somehow cope with the jealousy of the first song, Consuelo wrote many others: Yo No Fui, Anoche, Al Nacer Este Dia, Aunque Tengas Razon, Dejame Guererte, Pensara En Mi, Amar Y Vivir, Que Seas Feliz … But none of them even close did not compare in popularity with Besame Mucho.
… And now, having outlasted her husband, having grown sons, living a rather insipid and event-poor life, covered with a network of wrinkles and becoming unrecognizable, in 1977 she again found herself in Los Angeles. She was invited to a party about the awarding of the Golden Globe Award. After Gregory Peck did not recognize her, she wanted to escape from this city, the same as in her youth.
P. S. Creator of Legendary Besame mucho Consuelo Velazquez until her death lived alone in her home in the suburbs of Mexico City and died all forgotten on January 22, 2005.