Profile | A Thousand Masks, a life of struggle and cinema – El Sol de México

When Mil Máscaras got into the ring and took off one of his two masks to throw it into the stands, the audience in any arena went crazy, fighting to take home the memory of their idol. The mere presence of a legend in the ring, who never revealed the mystery of her face, ignited the emotion of all those present.

As if that were not enough, the legacy that the fighter originally from San Luis Potosí built in the pankration had a facet beyond his sporting qualities. Mil Máscaras shone in front of the camera in an era of Mexican cinema that had flesh and blood superheroes as protagonists, men who graced billboards for more than a decade, facing fantastic beings or even threats from reality, such as bandits and criminals. .

masked actor

In 1968, Mr. Personality, as he is also known, debuted as a masked actor. For that production, he came with previous experience, acquired before becoming a wrestler, precisely during his time as a judoka aspiring to represent Mexico in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

“I was an acting student, apart from being at the university, I was also taking classes at the Actors Academy. I was preparing for that, but a movie came out, they selected us for a movie in English, which was called “The Kings of the Sun.” They chose us there at the Actors Academy and gave us a three-month contract,” says Mil Máscaras in an interview with The Sun of Mexico.

“The experience was extraordinary. Hollywood or not, it was an English film company, so it was more than perfect. It helped me a lot in cinematographic things, because the director was English (J. Lee Thompson), and since I spoke English too, he used me to arrange the actors the way they should be and I was delighted to do so. I went, you can say, as an extra, but in this case I rose to assistant director.”

A year after “The Kings of the Sun” was released, Mil Máscaras debuted as a professional wrestler at the Arena Coliseo in Guadalajara on August 21, 1964, after leaving the possibility of being an Olympic athlete closed, because he did not consider good conditions that the Committee gave to its members.

In the Jalisco capital, Mil Máscaras made a bond of friendship with Cuauhtémoc Velasco, alias “El Diablo Velasco”, whose gym was the first in which the newcomer to the Guadalajara city debuted. “He received me very politely. He also received me because they had recommended me, they had already spoken to him to tell him that I was going there,” he remembers.

Character creator

Mil Máscaras was presented in what would be a success from the first fall, a glorious premiere that he attributes to the dissemination he had through the magazine “Lucha libre”, by Valente Pérez, a journalist with whom he jointly designed his character. and with whom he collaborated in the magazine “Muscle Power”.

“He had the idea, but I gave him a Thousand Masks. He and I became a great friendship, he began to give me all the publicity he wanted. We made the character, I designed the masks, the drawings and everything. Then I went with the then mask maker Ranulfo López and he made me the first 10. My designs, all original.

“It was a tremendous blow, because it was exaggerated publicity that Valente did in the magazines. He had “Lucha libre”, “Muscle Power”, “World Ring”, which was about boxing. The debut was a success. In Guadalajara the Arena was filled and about two thousand more were left unable to enter. I go to Monterrey and the same thing happens, the same in Mexico City. It was based on the publicity that had been given to the character,” he assured.

The arrival of Mr. Personality to celluloid

At a time when wrestling movies already featured El Santo and Blue Demon, Mil Máscaras came to resize the industry with an idol image recognized in Mexico and abroad, at the invitation of producer Luis Enrique Vergara.

“He looked for me, he did maquiladora for Columbia. He made four films, but he died in New York, doing the work he did for distribution. Then I was automatically free to hire anyone later, according to his wife. He gave me complete freedom,” explains the idol.

Thus, the fighter made his first appearance in the cinema with the film “Los canallas” directed by Federico Curiel and in which he starred along with Regina Torné. Mil Máscaras brought his personality to the films “Las vampiras” (1969), “Enigma de muerte” (1969) and its homonymous “Mil Máscaras” in the same year.

The success on the big screen was magnified as was that of wrestling. At that time, Mr. Personality began producing his own films. “Cinematography is a very beautiful career, because it lends itself to being distributed throughout the world. I started producing too. You risk spending the little you have to get ahead.

“Luckily with great success, in the premieres there were 10 to 20 cinemas that gave you El Mariscala, which was one of the most important in the center, and 19 more. “We gave it adequate publicity before starting it and then in the presentations,” he mentions.

screen idol

During that time, from 1968 to the early 1980s, Mil Máscaras made more than 15 films, of the more than 20 he has made to date. At that time he came across some of the greatest talents in Mexican cinema, although he humbly assures that they were “few.”

In the long list of films that remained in his filmography are “The Righteous Champions” (1971), “The Beasts of Terror” (1972), “Mystery in the Bermudas” (1979) and one of the most popular, “The Mummies.” of Guanajuato” (1972), a film that is a fundamental part of Mexican popular culture.

“We did ‘The Mummies of Guanajuato’, then we did ‘The Mummies of San Ángel’, and then others, but luckily all of them were successful. Cinematography in Mexico, especially wrestling characters, or celebrities, boxers and all, have great appeal for the people. The town in general does not mean the big cities, but the smaller cities,” she assures.

By the 1980s, the tradition of seeing wrestling on movie posters ended. A fact that for Mil Máscaras is explained by the ups and downs of the country’s economy.

“The cinematography fell apart. The whole economy collapsed, so you automatically can’t invest in a company that doesn’t produce. When you produce a film, you invest your money, but if it is not going to produce, you are left with empty pockets,” he explains.

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Mil Máscaras returned to the screen to make four more films, from 2007 to 2010, all of them foreign productions called “Mil Máscaras vs. The Aztec Mummy”, “Academy of Doom”, “Mil Máscaras: Heroe” and “Aztec Revenge”.

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The world is your home

In its design, the mask that he continues to wear to this day has hearts on the sides, a symbol of love for wrestling; on the forehead five lines that represent the different continents of the planet; and in the eyes the shape of the eagle that would fly through them. Touring the planet was his dream from the beginning, something that he has more than achieved, both in fighting and acting.

One of his most recurring destinations has been Japan, a country he has visited 50 times. In the Asian country she also had the opportunity to record at Himeji Castle, considered a National Treasure of Japan and a World Heritage Site. “My arrival in Japan was a tremendous success, about 200 children greeted me at the airport,” she recalls with emotion.

“My home is the world. I have always thought that there is no distinction between one country and another. If you have the opportunity to work in different countries around the world, then you consider that you are at home,” concludes the multifaceted Mil Máscaras.

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