Toni Leblanc, from the Prado elevator to the top of the show business

Toni Leblanc playing a guide from the Prado Museum in the cinema. / CR

The museum where he worked as a beadle, the Film Library and the profession pay tribute to the multifaceted comedian on the first centenary of his birth. From 'Los cheats' to 'Torrente', the actor embodied the contemporary rogue like nobody else

Michael Lorenci

Throughout his life, the actor Tony Leblanc (1922-2012) repeated that he was born on the morning of May 7, 1922 in the Prado rooms dedicated to Goya. It wasn't true, but it could have been. And it is that the father of Ignacio Fernández Sánchez, real name of the actor, lived in the art gallery. Ignacio Fernández Blan, his father, was the museum's caretaker between 1943 and 1953, and lived in a house for the staff of special responsibility of the institution attached to the Villanueva building.

Being well-born is being grateful, and Leblanc always fondly remembered the Prado Museum, to which he would return as a concierge and from where he began his rise to the top of show business. He had a funny story about how his mother decided to visit his father at the museum and bring him dinner at work. It was then that "Ignacio decided that he wanted to reach the world and see the national art gallery as soon as possible."

On the first centenary of the actor's birth, and as a prelude to the cycle dedicated to the multifaceted comedian by the Spanish Film Library and to the profession's tribute, the Prado publishes 'Did Tony Leblanc live in the Prado Museum?', a video that recalls the intimate link between Leblanc and the house of Velázquez, Goya, Zurbarán, Bosch and many other geniuses of universal painting.

Following in his father's footsteps, the actor worked at the museum, as reflected in 'El Pobre García', a 1961 film for which Leblanc was the director and screenwriter and in which he plays a young man who makes a living with the most varied works, among them, as a guide to the Prado.

Thanks to the collaboration of the Spanish Film Library in the 'Audiovisual Memory' project, this film is the starting point for the video tribute that the Prado dedicates "to the most popular of its inhabitants", and whose memory stars in some of the stories "in first person» of workers and collaborators in another video 'Voces del Prado'.

Castizo

It is one more tribute to the most traditional actor of our cinema, a comedy genius who knew how to embody the Spanish rogue like no other and his different formulations over several decades and changing social 'habitats', of the tocomocho swindler in 'Los cheats ' (1959) by Pedro Lazaga to the false handicapped, swindler and trafficker who embodied as the father of the dandy protagonist of 'Torrente, the foolish arm of the law (1998) and the other installments of the saga created, directed and starring Santiago Segura.

His first job was as a beadle and elevator operator at the Prado. But his hobbies were different and he became an accomplished tap dancer, a style in which he was proclaimed champion of Spain in 1942 and which would be his passport to the world of entertainment. He also tried his luck in boxing and had a brilliant career in the ring as 'El Tigre de Chamberí', winning the Castilla lightweight championship in 1943. He did not disdain football -he played with Carabanchel CF, in the third division- and knowing music composed almost 300 songs and wrote stories and poems.

He debuted at the end of the 50s as an extra in the shows of Pastora Imperio and Celia Gámez. In the theater she worked in the companies of Ana Mariscal, Manuel Paso and Luis Escobar. But he soon jumped into the movies and made himself known looking self-confident, cheeky and comical in 'The Red Cross Girls' (1958), 'Love Below Zero' (1960) and 'Lovers' Day' (1959), all Along with Concha Velasco, his great partner on and off screen.

Essential

He would soon be an essential figure in Spanish comedy and he achieved it by playing all the sticks of the profession, as an actor, stage director and producer at the end of the 1950s. They are ordered by Pedro Lazaga, who would direct him eight times, including 'Three Suecas for Three Rodríguez', Leblanc's last film before he decided to retire in 1975.

In 1983 a serious traffic accident disabled him for years, until with 'Torrente' he returned to the big screen. When ill health had kept him away from the sets, the rescue of Santiago Segura would give him the Goya Award for best supporting actor in 1997, which he received after winning the honorary Goya in 1993. His career revived and he repeated with Segura in 'Torrente 2 : Misión en Marbella' (2001), and 'Torrente 3: El protector' (2005), two of the highest-grossing films in Spanish cinema.

Before, Luis García Berlanga and Antonio Mercero had to reject the offers. But he did recover to participate in the TVE series 'Cuéntame how it happened', where the younger generations would discover him as the endearing Cervan, the kiosk vendor from the San Genaro neighborhood that he played between 2001 and 2008.

A heart failure ended the life of Tony Leblanc on November 24, 2012. He was 90 years old. His remains rest in the Almudena cemetery in Madrid.

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