After fighting El Santo in El Santo vs. El Estrangulador, killing more than
200 men on the screen and appearing in more than 300 films in a 60-year
Career, Eric del Castillo returns to his homeland of Guanajuato.
José Eduardo Eric del Castillo-Negrete Galván was born in Celaya, Guanajuato, July 22 1934. His mother, Aurora, gave birth to him in Hotel Juárez, room 11, next to the well where they buried his umbilical cord in an old indigenous custom that states that the son will return to his place of birth, where his roots are buried.
In his memoir …And I Decided to be an Actor, Eric describes with great detail what his life was like before his acting career. The scenes from that remote past we can peek into and see a glimpse of where his spirit was born and the birth of his personal and professional temperament that we all recognize of him today. His mother was a teacher in rural schools; his father was a firefighter and a boxer known as Kid Negrete, el Noqueador. His parents separated when he was a little boy and he had to deal with all the expected difficulties of being raised by a single mother.
His life from the beginning was theatrical, full of images, of memories and unforgettable anecdotes, the smell of wet dirt in silence or the taste of the famous homemade Celaya Caramel, and the enormous chore of mixing it for an eternity until it is ready, so it can be poured into little shingle boxes with the sense of packing a priceless treasure.
Before the age of 20, Eric would never have dreamt that he would one day dedicate his life to acting. He spent his adolescence in government hospices and boarding schools, which, added to his over-active imagination and adventurous spirit, led to him running away from home several times. Tired of his rebellion, his mother recommended that he study to be an actor. You will live many lives, she promised. She even gave him the address for Don Andrés Soler’s academy of dramatic arts, for which he moved to Mexico City. When he peeked through the doors and saw the students practice fencing, as well as portraits of Dolores del Río, María Félix, Pedro Armendáriz and the Soler family hanging on the wall, he says he felt like he was falling. I sank into the performing table and I haven’t made my way back to the surface yet, nor do I plan to.
He started out in independent theater, making his debut in La última noche con Laura. His film debut was in the 1959 film El látigo negro. In 1962 he made his TV debut in the soap opera La Herencia, first out of more than 40 in his resume, Mundo de juguete (1974), El Maleficio (1983), María la del Barrio (1995), Soy tu dueña (2010), Abismo de Pasión (2011), y Lo que la vida me robó (2013), are among them. For his work on Mujeres engañadas (2000), Amigas y rivales (2002), Apuesta por un amor (2005), y La verdad oculta (2007), he won the Best Actor award from TVyNovelas and the special “Una vida en el escenario (one life on the stage)” prize in 2014.
Among his vast filmography, the ones Eric most fondly remembers include El Tunco Maclovio, a 1969 western where he starred alongside Julio Alemán and Mario Almada; Cruces sobre el Yermo (1967), and Todo por Nada (1968), both westerns and both directed by Alberto Mariscal; La Generala (1971), a period piece about the Revolución where he plays a colonel next to Ignacio López Tarso; and El Señor Tormenta (1963), alongside Angélica María, as well as the aforementioned Santo vs El Estrangulador (1965), where he had the privilege to fight with El Santo himself, and Pedro Páramo (1967), with John Gavin.
His passion for film has lead him to write screenplays and screen stories, among them the story for Víbora caliente (1976), the screen adaptation for El extraño hijo del sheriff (1982), and the screenplays for Muerte a la mafia (1994) and Carros robados (1998). Acting has been only one of Eric’s many professional facets. He tried his hand at directing with Las sobrinas del diablo (1983) and Golondrina Presumida (1985). He’s also chairman of the Eagle Eye Art Academy in Houston, Texas and vice-president of the Asociación Nacional de Intérpretes (National Society of Actors) since July 2014.
Eric allows us, through all of these anecdotes, to peek into 80 years of a boiling and ever-changing landscape of Mexico. In his life and career we get a sense of how the interests and concerns of Mexican film and television have evolved. We see the development of the most recurring topics in the audiovisual history of our country. From agrarian conflicts and archetypes in the 1967 film Pedro Páramo (1967), to the suburban folklore of Lucha Libre in the El Santo movies.
The evidence is in Eric’s more than 300 appearances in various films, television shows and telenovelas, not to mention his theater work in over 40 plays. His undoubted humility and simplicity are the mark of an austere childhood living among the dirt, relating daily to nature, the towns and the cities in Guanajuato he grew up in: Celaya, Roque, San Juan de la Vega. It’s been a long, arduous journey. Eric is certain that his wifeKate Trillo, his daughters Verónica —TV announcer—, and actress Kate —he calls her Keitita—, and his son Ponciano from a previous marriage, a lawyer, have given the strength to overcome any crisis and obstacle in his career.
Despite his current fame and comfort, Eric never forgets the road he has travelled to get there. His character Callao from the 1967 film El Crisol (1967), seconds before he dies coins the phrase crucecita más, crucecita menos (one more little crossing, one less little crossing), lamenting the indifference left by his passing. We are not indifferent. We will not allow him to repeat that phrase of his and instead we give our honorable guest and primer actor a standing ovation.
KEEPER OF THE FILM MEMORY
How does one begin to write a profile for Gudalupe Ferrer? A simple question that finds a slew of answers, thanks to her long trajectory. You might think that, being her daughter, I would have all the details on her curricula, but I don’t. I knew some things- the ones that stand out. But I felt I was missing out on the rest, so I asked my mother for her extended CV, and boy, was it a surprising read!
It wasn’t easy to summarize the 16 pages that enlist her long trajectory and her commitment to her work, both professionally and academically, which is the way I remember her from my childhood: A working independent woman, committed above all to her work, whichever it may have been. It also isn’t easy to preserve the audiovisual memories of an entire country, an extraordinary and never-ending task of cataloguing our cinematic information and preserving it as a legacy, and our heritage.
She is Guadalupe Ferrer, the great promoter of our country’s Film library and Industry, a woman committed to preserving our cinematographic heritage. She was born in Mexico City to a Mexican mother and Catalan father. Her infancy was spent in the port city of Veracruz, her teens in the town of Orizaba. She returned to Mexico City to study Journalism and Mass Communications at the Political and Social Sciences Faculty at the National University (UNAM), from which she graduated with full honors.
Her widely successful career began as a Research Assistant, and later Academic Technician, at the Documentary Research Center at her Faculty in UNAM. She was the head librarian at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (Center for Film Training, CCC); the Coordinator at the Center for Documentary Research at UNAM; the Under-director of Training for the Mining Promotion Commission at the Energy and Mining Minisstry; Director of the Cineteca Nacional; General Director of TV UNAM, Director for Cultural Film Promotion at the Mexican Institute of Cinematography (IMCINE); design and organization consultant for the UNAM’s Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos (University Center for Film Studies, CUEC)>
She was a professor at the Political and Social Sciences Faculty at UNAM for over 33 years, with her lectures always being some of the most popular among students, and a fundamental part of her personal and professional growth. Teaching has been one of the most cherished responsibilities to her. She feels reinvigorated by her contact with students and by the opportunity to help build new realities.
In 1994 she was awarded the Knight of Arts and Letters distinction by the Government of France. She has been a jury and examiner in close to 26 commissions of all types, including her time as a Member for the Deciding Commission at the Political and Social Sciences Faculty and at CUEC; a jury at the National Award for Youth and Journalism; Nominating agent for the McArthur Foundation and for Rockefeller Foundation’s film, video and multimedia scholarships. She was president of the Mexico chapter of the Ibero American Educational Television Association, and a Member of the Awards Commission at the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences.
Now, starting in 2008, she is the General Director for Film Activities at the UNAM’s film archive, where she has a chance to demonstrate her passion for preserving and disseminating the cinematographic history of our country. She is also a Deputy at the International Federation of Film Archives, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Ingmar Bergman Chair at UNAM, as well as being part of the Directors Council Board at the Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG).
The magnitude of this task, of recovering and restoring a country’s film heritage, presents an enormous challenge. It will take many people to follow Guadalupe Ferrer’s example in her commitment to her labor. What can I possibly feel for my mom, other than pride and admiration? Other than to point out that, beyond her impressive professional career, her most important achievement has always been to be a wonderful companion, friend, teacher and mother.