On this day in comedy on January 6, 1926 Comedian, Actor, Singer, Producer, Writer, “Capulina” (Gaspar Henaine Pérez) was born in Chignahuapan, Puebla.
Known affectionately by the nickname, “El Rey del Humorismo Blanco” (The King of White Humor), due to his clean, innocent style of comedy, Capulina got his start in show business when he was still innocent. He was 10 years old and had a small part in the 1936 Fernando de Fuentes film, Alla en el rancho grande. He won youth acting honors and by 1946 his musical studies began to pay off when Capulina toured Mexico and the USA as a vocalist with the trio Los Trincas.
Capulina’s catapult to fame came as a duo. He partnered with Marco Antonio Campos as the team of Viruta and Capulina. They made 26 films together starting in 1951. Initially the pair were compared to American counterparts, Laurel and Hardy, but it wasn’t long before they carved out their own distinctive on screen personas. Viruta, the thin one was smart. Capulina the fat one was the fool.
The duo gained fame throughout Latin America. They had their own TV show, Cómicos y canciones; a sketch comedy show that included as one of its writers, comedian Chespirito. However, as time moved on Viruta and Capulina made less films together and on their last six they were constantly feuding; feuding about not making enough films. The fighting stopped when Viruta died after his fourth heart attack.
Capulina mourned the untimely death of his partner, but believed in the old adage that the show must go on. In his long career, Capulina made 84 moves; 58 of them as a solo act. His formula was simple – his dimwitted character would get into a pickle trying to carrying out an easy task and be aided by a celebrity (like a pro wrestler’s El Santo or Tinieblas, an adventurer or he’d gain some special power). In any case the results were often hilarious.
Capulina was a national treasure. He released 12 albums, had another television series in 1989 and a telenovela in 1996. As a comedian he toured until 1997 when he claimed he was too old to keep doing it. That premature prediction became a reality on September 30, 2011 when Capulina died from complications of pneumonia and a gastric ulcer.
His voiceover role in the 2015 film, Seleccion Canina was released 4 years after his death.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
Watch the clip: