08 February, 2011

Franco's 80s actors: EDUARDO FAJARDO

On returning to Spain in the late 70s, Jess Franco came more and more to rely on either his stock players or assorted obscurities to people his casts, obviously in accordance with his ever-dwindling budgets. Now and then, however, some old-timer of Spanish cinema might turn up in a film of his. The reasons for them appearing in such down-market productions were presumably various. One assumes that Fernando Rey was available to fill in time between assignments when appearing in La bahía Esmeralda (1989), and that it was personal friendship with Franco that brought Manuel Alexandre into the cast of Las tribulaciones de un buda bizco (1989). As for the case of Lola Gaos and Barta Barri, their appearances in, respectively, La isla de las virgenes (1987) and the aforementioned Las tribulaciones obviously bore on the declining careers of these aging, once-prominent character actors.

Of all these actors, Eduardo Martínez Fajardo, with three Franco films to his credit, worked most prolifically in the director’s later output. The squarely-built, distinguished-looking Galician was born in either 1918 or 1924 (sources disagree on this point) and his collaboration with Franco coincided with a period of career decline in the early eighties, which paradoxically preceded what may have been his greatest popular success. Soon he was to appear in a major role in the TV series Tristeza de amor (1986), taking over from the recently deceased Alfredo Mayo, which brought Fajardo more familiarity than he had ever enjoyed before, although now, of course, he is chiefly remembered for his numerous villainous roles in Spaghetti Westerns.

Having started his acting career in 1942 as a dubber, providing the Spanish voice of Charles Boyer in Franz Borzage’s History Is Made at Night (1937), he was later to supply the voice of Orson Welles’s Othello. Concurrently, he was appearing onscreen as a contract player for the powerful CIFESA. Following a long fifties period working in Mexico, he settled in Spain once again and it is then that he embarked on his long series of international coproductions. During this period, most controversially, he was also active in the National Show Business Syndicate of the (Francisco) Franco regime. At the time he was making films for Jess Franco, he was appearing in much TV and had resumed his old trade as a dubber, his velvety bass voice being heard in anything from episodes of Starsky and Hutch to films such as Absence of Malice (1981).

As for his roles in Jess Franco films, he was given a very good starring role as the drunken fisherman in El lago de las virgenes (1981, released 1987). As he gives his teenaged grandson a crude but sound sex-education monologue, one cannot help remembering the very different, less welcome instructions he had earlier given as the onscreen lecturer in Manuel Esteba’s El despertar de los sentidos (1974), an outrageously repressive sex-instruction docudrama in the manner of Erich F. Bender’s Helga (1967).

Franco gave Fajardo another role in the replacement Spanish scenes of Oasis of the Zombies (1983) in which he and Lina Romay took over from the two French actors used in the initial Eurociné version. Finally, he appeared in the supporting role of a millionaire in the adventure film Bangkok, cita con la muerte (1985).

In the nineties, Fajardo went to live in Mojacar, Almería, where he has a street named after him, and since 2001 has been mainly involved in giving acting lessons to disabled people. He now lives in Huércal, Almería. He is also occasionally active on the stage, having performed a monologue written by himself in 2009. All in all, he has appeared in some 2,000 television programs, 180 films and 75 plays.

An extract of Fajardo’s voice in Tulio Demicheli’s Tequila (1973):


An extract of Fajardo’s voice in the Spanish-language soundtrack of Norman Jewison’s And Justice for All (1979), dubbing a supporting character:


An extract of Fajardo’s voice in El lago de las virgenes:


Imdb entry:


Spanish Wikipedia entry:


A list of some of his dubbing jobs:


An early image of Fajardo, during his CIFESA period, in a brief role in Rafael Gil’s Don Quijote de la Mancha (1948)

Text by Nzoog Wahrlfhehen

1 comment:

Tom B. said...

Eduardo Fajardo was head of the Actors Union during the 1960s and '70s. All the films made in Spain and co-productions basically had to go through him for the hiring of actors to meet acrediting for production money. Fernando Sancho was a close friend of Eduardo and they both grabbed many of the leading villain roles in those days. Franco probably made friends with him early on and Eduardo was probably able to get him almost any actor he wanted. Many of the Italian actors resented Fajardo and Sancho for this reason but they sure couldn't complain about their acting skills as both were top notch.