Give up? (yesterday’s trivia question)
Agustín Lara’s classic, Solemente un vez, became an international hit, when debuted by Mexican tenor José Mojica, in the 1941 film “Melodías de América“. Born in 1896, Mojica emigrated to the United States in 1918 to launch a career as an opera singer. One of the major stars of the 1920s (sales of his recordings rivaled those of Enrico Caruso), he was offered Hollywood contracts (being an extremely handsome guy helped, too), appearing mostly in Spanish-language market early talkies (singies?) and one or two forgotten English-language films, playing “exotics”.
Unsatisfied with the roles he was offered by Fox, he returning to Mexico in the late 30s. A mega-star throughout Latin America, he lived well, bought properties and partied with friends like Dolores del Rio, María Felix, John Huston, and… of course… Agustín Lara.
Although known to be devout, it was a complete surprise to everyone when, in 1942, he decided to become a Franciscan friar, and gave away his material wealth … but held on to what he considered a “God-given gift”.
He continued to perform both religious music and Mexican popular ballads into the 1960s, made several tours of Latin America and even appeared in a few films, and on television specials doing duets with other stars of the time. He was the one in the brown habit.
After he lost his hearing in the late 1960s, he spent his last years back at the monastery in Cusco, where he died in 1974.
Maybe it was foreshadowing, but in the 1935 Fox Film La Cruz Y La Espada, the future singing monk plays Hermano Franciso… a singing monk.