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Remembering Mexico’s Greatest Actor: El Santo

Who is the greatest actor ever to come out of Mexico? No, it isn’t Salma Hayek, Gael Garcia Bernal, or Vincente Fernandez. The greatest of all time (of all time!) is Rudolfo Guzman Huerta. Don’t know who that is? Perhaps you know him better as El Santo.

El Santo, to this day, is arguably the most popular luchador in the history of the sport. He started his career in 1934, wrestling under several different names including El Murcielago. In 1942 he donned the iconic silver mask and became El Santo. He would go on to popularize Mexican style wrestling throughout Latin America and the United States. His technical skill and undeniable charisma made him a hit with the fans (not to mention the ladies).

Although he was well known in the ring, El Santo’s greatest success came later with his film career. In 1958 he starred in his first feature, El Cerebro Del Mal, which wrapped shooting in Cuba one day before Fidel Castro took over. We’re pretty confident that if El Santo had still been in the country stuff wouldn’t have gone down the way it did.

El Santo went on to star in 52 films, including El Santo Contra Los Zombies, Las Mujeres Vampiro, and Las Momias De Guanajuato. The movies usually involved El Santo and his buddy Blue Demon (another lucha libre great) taking on the forces of darkness. Vampires, aliens, werewolves, mummies, and witches all got choke slammed by El Santo’s grip of justice. Our favorite parts were the scenes in which he would go about his everyday life wearing the mask. You might find him at a nice restaurant or out on a date, and he’d still be wearing his mask.

Thousands of people attended his funeral in 1984. As per his request, he was buried in his mask. In the years since, El Santo has become a world-class icon. Recently, Cartoon Network Latin America created an El Santo animated series. His films are considered cult movie classics and are shown all over the world. His name is so well known abroad, someone decided to use him for a Turkish film. This author was once in Greece wearing an El Santo t-shirt, when 5 excited young Greeks came up to tell me that El Santo was their hero. They explained that El Santo’s films were very popular in Greece. It’s a testament to El Santo’s legacy that he could be so popular in the birthplace of wrestling.

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