Carlos Gardel's legacy continues to thrive the world of tango. His career began with singing in local bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, but swelled to international celebrity with passionately devoted fans. The 1917 hit, "Mi Noche Triste," was both an instant success and a revolutionary approach to tango. Prior to Gardel's song, tango was performed without vocal accompaniment, but the beauty of "Mi Noche Triste" inspired a change that spread. In 1931, Gardel played an Argentinian cowboy, or gaucho, in a "talkie" film, and in the following four years appeared in several other films, broadening his fan base to film-lovers. Tragically, Gardel and his partner, Alfredo Le Pera, were killed in a plane crash in Colombia while on tour in 1935, at the peak of Gardel's career.
Gardel was born in the late 1800s, although there are conflicting stories about exactly when and where. The most accepted and supported theory is that he was born in 1890 in France, and that he and his single mother immigrated to Argentina in 1893. However, in 1920 he registered documents with Uruguay and Argentina that recorded his birth in 1887 in Tacuaremb??, an out of the way town in Uruguay. Some biographers have speculated that Gardel was trying to avoid military obligations, but his motives can never be determined for certain. His legacy is such that France, Uruguay, and Argentina claim him as their own. After the plane crash that killed him, his remains were returned to Argentina for burial in Buenos Aires. The journey took several months, and went by way of Panama and New York City. At every stop, Gardel's remains were received by huge crowds, and he was mourned publicly by his heartbroken admirers. At the final arrival in Buenos Aires, a crowd of tens of thousands of people greeted the ship with his remains.
Today, tango enthusiasts around the world continue to appreciate his music, and in Argentina he continues to be a household name.