Brazilian actor born in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, who has acted in more than a hundred films including chanchadas, musicals and dramas, and who played one of the most important roles of his career as the protagonist of Macunaíma (1969) by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade. He recounted that he decided to become an actor at the age of eight, after watching Charles Chaplin's The Boy (1921). When his widowed mother remarried, he ran away with a shabby theater company that passed through Uberlândia. The group's director, Abigail Parecis, adopted him from a past role and took him to São Paulo (1924). In São Paulo he ran away again and, after several entries and exits in the Juvenile Court, he was adopted, once again, by the family of Antônio de Queiroz, an influential politician at the time.
The Queiroz placed him at the Sagrado Coração de Jesus School of Salesian Fathers, where he studied until the third grade. His adoptive family dreamed of turning him into a lawyer, but he just wanted to be an artist. He joined the theater company of Jardel Jércolis (1932), father of actor Jardel Filho and one of the pioneers of magazine theater, and when he performed in the musical Goal (1935), he received the artistic name that would enshrine him: Grande Othello. He made his film debut with the film Noites Cariocas (1935), alongside Oscarito. With Oscarito, he formed the most famous and beloved comic duo in Brazilian cinema, starring in a total of 13 films. He started performing at the Cassino da Urca and joined the theater of a magazine. He acted (1942) in the unfinished production of American filmmaker Orson Welles, It's All True, made Moleque Tião (1943) by José Carlos Burle, with a plot inspired by his own life, entering the apex of his career.
In the Atlântida chanchadas, he acted in films of great public success such as Esse mundo é um tambourine (1947), Carnaval Atlântida (1950), Carnaval no Fogo (1950) and Matar ou run (1954). He also acted as a composer, working in partnership with other authors and especially with Herivelto Martins in songs such as Praça Onze (1940), Bom dia, avenida (1944) and Fala, Claudionor (1946). He also worked on soap operas and wrote a book of poetry, Bom dia, noite (1993). He died suddenly as he disembarked at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on his way to Nantes, where he would be honored at the local film festival. He was 1.50 m tall, with bulging eyes and the stretched lips of a crying baby. According to Isto É magazine, "there will never be a popular and fun type like him. In addition to being an incomparable comedian, who teamed up with Oscarito in dozens of films in the heyday of chanchadas and comedies from Praça Tiradentes and Cassino da Urca, in Rio de Janeiro, he was also a dramatic actor of authenticity visceral".
A family tragedy rocked the filming of Carnaval in the fire: his wife killed the couple's six-year-old son and committed suicide while he was filming the scene in which he played the role of Juliet and Oscarito, the role of Romeo without knowing of nothing. Shaken, he turned away from the tape and did not see the scene until almost 30 years later. Another curious fact happened in Fitzcarraldo (1982), by the German Werner Herzog, filmed in the jungle, in Peru, almost maddened the vain actor Klaus Kinski. The Brazilian needed to do a scene in English, but decided to speak in Spanish, a language Kinski did not know. Annoyed, Kinski withdrew from the set. When the film opened in Germany, that was the only scene applauded by the audience, director Herzog later said.
Picture copied from CINEMA BRASILEIRO/ARTISTS PHOTO website:
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Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/biografia/grande-otelo.htm