Since Carlos Gardel’s death in a plane crash 80 years ago, his legend has only grown. The king of tango, beloved in Argentina–where he was raised–and throughout Latin America and other parts of the globe, was a famed singer and songwriter and international movie star when his life ended at age 45.

At the time, televisions were rare and radio ruled the airwaves, and the record and film industries were becoming huge. Gardel’s signature songs, such as El Día Que Me Quieras (The Day That You Love Me) and Mi Buenos Aires Querido (My Beloved Buenos Aires), and nuanced phrasings were heard all over the world; movie-goers saw his suave good looks onscreen from New York to Paris.

Carlos Gardel’s Influence

Gardel died on June 24, 1935, in Medellin, Colombia, while on a concert tour of Latin America, According to reports, millions went into mourning upon hearing of his death, with masses of people coming out to pay respects as his body was flown from Colombia through New York City and Rio de Janeiro; for two days he lay in state in Montevideo, Uruguay, drawing thousands.

His influence today can be found in both contemporary folk and rock music, and in enduring style and savoir faire. Carlos Gardel is still a draw for visitors to Buenos Aires, where he is buried and which boasts the Carlos Gardel Museum among many other Gardel-themed streets, bars and restaurants, and entertainment options. Meeting groups in Argentina will enjoy getting to know more about him.

Anniversary Events

For example, last week in honor of the anniversary of his death, there was a conference at the Carlos Gardel Museum, a grave site commemoration and an ongoing special exhibit, all in Buenos Aires. The exhibit at the National History Museum features murals, never-before-released letters and other personal items as well as photos from the National Archives.

Argentinean public television showed a series of his movies, and the regional parliament is organizing a series of special events.

Other countries took note of the anniversary: In Montevideo, Uruguay, a statue of Gardel sitting on a bench, by sculptor Alberto Morales Saravia, was unveiled on main thoroughfare 18 de Julio. In Maracaibo, Venezuela, opera tenor Jorge Quintero dedicated a concert to Gardel.

In Bogota, Colombia, the celebrations included the premiere of the musical La novia de Gardel (Gardel’s Girlfriend), and Gardel was also the focus of the International Tango Festival in Medellin.