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Behind the Traces of “Negro” Olmedo

 
Texts Photos Pablo Etchevers

Rosario has been and will be the cradle of remarkable men. Alberto Olmedo was one of the greatest Argentinian comedians and he was born in this city, particularly at Pichincha neighborhood, next to the river.

Behind the traces of “Negro” Olmedo
Find Him at Pichincha

“Pichincha, visit Pichincha”, is the immediate response given to visitors when they ask for information about “Negro” Olmedo, as they walk around the City of Rosario.

Pichincha is a neighborhood frozen in time with a diverse range of antique and collectible stores, which helps to preserve the myth of oldness and antiquity.
Behind the traces of “Negro” Olmedo
Every weekend visitors may find the remains of the glorious days of the past at Pichincha. Antique furniture, china, dishware, silverware, glassware, ivory objects, old watches and collectibles grasp the present in the Antique Retro Marketplace and in the amazing variety of antique stores located in the surroundings.

In Search of “Negro”

Pichincha also has its own celebrity, who, despite his long absence, can be found in a few unforgettable places within the increasingly beautiful city of Rosario.
Behind the traces of “Negro” Olmedo
It is at this small neighborhood that the great comedian called Alberto Olmedo was born. Eighteen-year-old Olmedo started to work on TV in Buenos Aires and managed to achieve a position among important comedians thanks to his incredible improvisation skills and spontaneity as the camera switched on.

El capitán Piluso (“Piluso Captain”), el Yeneral Gonzáles, Chiquito Reyes, Rucucú, el dictador de Costa Pobre (“The dictator of Poor Coast, a parody of a banana republic ruler”) and the famous Manosanta (“The miracle healer”) were only a few of the characters created by “Negro” Olmedo and engraved upon the collective memory of the Argentinian people.
Behind the traces of “Negro” Olmedo
Sitting Next to Him

A question about him is just enough to awaken the collective memory of the people from Rosario and listen: “I met him, he was the greatest of all”, “The only one, the best of all times, he never studied a script and everything was improvised by him”, “Every year he came back to Rosario to meet his people”.

Like many myths and legends, “Negro” Olmedo can also be found in pictures dressed up as Piluso Captain posing with children, who are now grown-ups. Most of them, who perhaps laughed helplessly by watching the performance of his characters, have not been able to understand his fateful death and they feel as if it were a senseless joke.
Behind the traces of “Negro” Olmedo
However, his unforgettable smile and good guy appearance remain in the memory of those who met him, in person or on TV, and were immortalized in a bronze monument of a happy man expecting someone eager to sit beside him. This well-preserved figure with his typical smiling face and bald head is seated on a park bench, where dozens of visitors take a picture with him day after day.

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Friendship Monument is the name of the statue made in his honor. It is located between Rivadavia and Aristóbulo del Valle Streets at Pichincha neighborhood. At this spot, every 24th of August many people gather to celebrate “Negro” Olmedo’s birthday, who, whether on a sunny, rainy or stormy day, is always available to talk with a friend sitting beside him.

 
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