06 · 28 · 21

Blanca Estela Pavón: chronicle of a tragedy

By: Rafael Aviña

“Attention. Attention. Control tower, this is Captain Alfonso Reboul of the twin-engine XA-DUH. We have an emergency. I repeat we have a serious emergency. We are flying by contact. We have just passed Puebla you can see the Popocatepetl volcano below us. I repeat … We have serious visibility problems. Severe turbulence. We fly at 1,300 feet…”

That was the last communication between the control tower and the Mexicana de Aviación aircraft. It was Monday, September 26, 1949, and the 23-year-old actress Blanca Estela Pavón had boarded that twin-engine plane hours earlier that day in Oaxaca. Weeks ago, director Agustín P. Delgado had finished filming Ladronzuela, an emotional tale of redemption, written by Yolanda Vargas Dulché and starring Blanca Estela.

Blanca Estela Pavón

Blanca Estela Pavón

Born in Minatitlán, Veracruz, in 1926, Blanca Estela became fond of dance and the arts since she was a child, and shortly after, in Mexico City, she joined the Children’s Legion of the radio station XEQ. In the early forties, as a teenager, she joined a pioneering group of voice actors, even voicing Ingrid Bergman in George Cukor’s Dying Light (1944). After that, her rise was meteoric. Following the radio program, the films arrived with titles like La liga de las canciones (1941), El niño de las monjas (1944) and, most important of all, Cuando lloran los valientes (1945), directed by Ismael Rodríguez.

The success of that one was due to Pedro Infante’s reunion with that actress of enormous natural grace: Blanca Estela Pavón, who possessed a simple beauty but was also armed with a capacity to express emotion that was rarely seen before. It also had the appearance of the young and enormously sensual Virginia Serret. Both would die very young and in dramatic circumstances. The Mexican Academy recognized the work of Blanca Estela by awarding her the Ariel for Best Female Performance. She was also nominated for Best Female Performance for Vuelven los García (1946), also by Ismael.

However, nothing compared to the impact generated by Nosotros los pobres (1947) and its sequel Ustedes los ricos (1948), with which Infante and Blanca Estela Pavón would become the sweethearts of Mexican cinema. Her, as Chorreada, girlfriend of the noble carpenter Pepe “El Toro”, in a proletarian neighborhood of Mexico City. Where melodramatic excesses were transformed into the greatest virtues of that pair of anthological stories. Cinema Reporter in its January 1949 edition said: “It signifies the consecration of Ismael Rodríguez as director and also, confirms Blanca Estela Pavón as a remarkable, excellent, sensitive, ductile and magnificent actress…”

Nosotros los pobres (1947, dir. Ismael Rodríguez)

Nosotros los pobres (1947, dir. Ismael Rodríguez)

Blanca Estela would be the protagonist of passionate dramas such as: Cortesana y La bien pagada in 1947 and En cada puerto un amor, En los Altos de Jalisco y Los tres huastecos in 1948. The latter by Ismael, with Infante in the roles of the Andrade triplets: Lorenzo the Tamaulipeco, father of La Tucita (María Eugenia Llamas) and, apparently, a bandit nicknamed El Coyote; the priest Juan de Dios, from San Luis Potosí, who plays the violin; and Víctor, the one from Veracruz, an army captain in love with the lovely Mari Toña (Blanca Estela), a young orphan with a mule he sings to: “Arre que llegando al caminito, aquimichú aquimichú… Arre que llegando al caminito aquimichu aquimichu.”

By 1949, Blanca Estela was leading the casts of two intense dramas: Las puertas del presidio, with David Silva, and La mujer que yo perdí, with Pedro Infante, in a premonitory title since it would be the last film in which they would work together. Again, she was nominated for an Ariel for her role in Ustedes los ricos. It’s known that after Blanca Estela’s accident, Ismael wouldn’t film Pepe El Toro until 1952. In Ismael’s own words: “We were going to make Ni pobres ni ricos, the third Nosotros los pobres movie, but Blanca Estela Pavón passed away. In the end, we made Pepe El Toro. Pedro wanted to make a boxing movie and we hadn’t made the third of the pobres trilogy.” In it, Infante’s character is a carpenter-gone-boxer who forever mourns his wife La Chorreada (Blanca Estela Pavón), who, along with her twins, is killed by a car – much to the sadness of Lucha, a smitten neighbor played by Irma Dorantes.

The XEW stopped the transmission of one of its music programs to break the news. “…The tragic night of Pico del Fraile began when the twin-engine XA-DUH of Mexicana de Aviación left Oaxaca this past Monday, September 26, carrying as passengers, among others, historian and founder of the Institute of Aesthetic Investigations of the UNAM, Salvador Toscano Jr., Senator Gabriel Ramos Millán, director of the National Corn Commission and our beloved collaborator and great artist of the national cinema, Blanca Estela Pavón, as well as her father, Francisco V. Pavón. It is confirmed that all the crew and passengers perished in the fatal accident. Blanca Estela has left us, but her presence will continue among us through her films, her characters, and in our hearts…”

The radio fades to give way to a beloved and well-known voice, that of the one and only Blanca Estela Pavón singing the theme of the Que Dios me perdone, directed by Tito Davison in 1947. Manuel Esperón’s theme, interpreted by Mario Ruiz Armengol’s orchestra, sounds distant and ghostly and leaves its audience in tears.

“I kept thinking about what I have experienced, about the bitter things that are suddenly forgotten. A sweet promise, the kiss that wasn’t meant, madness, anguish and agony, these things that have a taste of lies, if I could erase them, without pain from my life. Again, I feel that the moment will come to look for sweet hope, for dreaming; it makes me drunk and God forgive me if my thoughts only find another lie in dreams…”