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Latino Celebrity Deaths in 2009

No one wants to die. However, it is one of the certainties in life and no one, no matter how rich, famous and healthy they are, will escape death. Last year, fans mourned the passing of over fifteen Latino celebrities.

Of course Micheal Jackson, Fawah Fawett and other world famous luminaries got all the press, while Hispanic deaths went virtually unreported and in some cases without even an obituary or a mere mention.

The most blatant offensive recent obvious oversight of Hispanics was the total omission of not even one Latino character in the movie, 2012. Does that mean Americans of Mexican, Cuban or Puerto Rican descent won’t be around in two years? It made this writer with a vociferous cry of protest clamoring to know why?

Not much has changed since the 1940s and 50s, discrimination still exists, but it is now subtle. Sadder yet, even Latino publications are guilty of this inadvertent error, so here for our reader is a selected list of Hispanics celebrities who passed on in 2009, plus Sandro, who died hours before this edition of Street Talk Magazine went to press.

JANUARY 6: Musician and publisher of El Placazo, Manuel “Manny” Castillo Jr., also barrio activist and founder of the San Anto Cultural Art center and the man mainly responsible for the “Gateway to the Westside” W. Commerce Street mural lost his fight with cancer. The mural pays tribute to deceased vocalists such as Lydia Mendoza, Eva Garza, Valerio Longoria, Randy Gariby plus many other musicians. He was 40.

JANUARY 14: Internationally known actor/singer/dancer and founder of the Nosotros Foundation Ricardo Montalban died of complications from congestive heart failure. This writer last saw Montalban at St. Victor Catholic Church in Los Angeles two weeks prior to his death. He was 88.

APRIL 1: Mexican singer/actor Pedro Infante (Torrentera) Jr., son of Pedro Infante (Cruz), died in Los Angeles due to pneumonia. He was 59.

JULY 15: Conjunto singer/songwriter Lucha Nieto died in San Antonio. She was 79.

AUGUST 16: Carlos Ocaranza a.k.a. “El Loco Elizalde,” as his cousin Valentín Elizalde, was assassinated after finishing a concert in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was 32.

OCTOBER 11: Panamanian singer/songwriter/Christian evangelist Basilio Antonio Fergus Alexander, who was simply known as Basilio and was very popular during the 1970s and ‘80s, died at his home in Miami due to bronchopneumonia. He was 62.

OCTOBER 13: Al Martino, best known for his version of “Spanish Eyes,” died a sudden death at his childhood home in Springfield, PA. He was 82.

OCTOBER 17: Pastor Freddie García, author of the best-selling book, “Outcry in the Barrio,” and national renowned minister, who received a national Achievement Against the Odds award at the White House, died due to kidney problems. He was 71.

OCTOBER 20: Brazilian/Italian songwriter Alberto Testa, best known for “Quando, Quando, Quando,” died in Rome, Italy. He was 82.

NOVEMBER 4: Mexican singer/actor Jorge Vargas died after being operated for colon cancer that was detected one month prior. He was 68. His ex-wife, Lupita D”Alessio said his death was actually due to bacteria contacted following the operation which prevented him from responding to treatment.

NOVEMBER 14: Guillermo “Memo” Lozano, a pioneer Spanish-language announcer and voice-over talent in television and radio, who was rather to as a rarity and “secret weapon” in voice ads by the Wall Street Journal, died of complications after open heart surgery. He was 78.

NOVEMBER 20: Bajo sexto player Louis Ayala Gonzales a.k.a. “El Carabinero” died of congestive heart failure in San Antonio. He was 73.

DECEMBER 7: Carlos Lico died of cancer in Mexico City. He was 76.

DECEMBER 10: Argentine protest singer Mercedes Sosa died of kidney disease. She was 74.

DECEMBER 15: Legendary bajo sexto maker Alberto V. Macias died in San Antonio. He was 72.

DECEMBER 27: Emilio Aguilar of Los Aguilares died due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 70. Los Aguilares 50th Anniversary Dance scheduled for Saturday, January 16 at Randy’s Ballroom will go on as scheduled. “That’s what dad would have wanted,” said Miguel Ángel Aguilar, Emilio’s son.

JANUARY 4, 2010: Singer/actor Roberto Sánchez, known artistically as Sandro “El Gitano,” and considered to be the Argentine Elvis. In need of both a lung and heart transplant, he ran out of time and died of pulmonary emphysema. He was 64.