Emilio Disi, the Prince of the Unexpected: he adopted his name in the phone book and found his destiny in humor

Emilio Disi
Emilio Disi

Between the late 60’s and early 80’s, the corner of Florida and Paraguay did not exist. Or in any case it existed in the municipal cadastre, but not the heart of that crossroads.

The heart, soul, spirit and symphony of that point on the Buenos Aires map beat on a table in the exact center of such a royal and refined cathedral.

Sergio Renan He talked so much – enraptured – about an aria from Maria Callasas he whited with fury at a defeat of racing. And the others, their coryphaeus, rambled on about ladies, politics -half of them were Peronists-, cinema, theater… wrapped in a cloud of smoke -they all smoked like Turks- and vapors of ristretto coffee (essential: no one dared to alter this noble concoction with milk or similar poison).

From time to time, the stable cast was renewed with a newcomer. One of them – or two, better – was José Pepe Stoptheater participant The Nationalone of the two cathedrals of the Buenos Aires magazine, and later a comic actor, producer, businessman of a certain weight… and picturesque as few: not to laugh at his occurrences was to miss the place.

Pepe was born in the San Cristóbal neighborhood. José Luis Parada, a municipal employee, and Pura Yáñez, cook, laundress and dressmaker: it was not easy to fill the pot…

Pepe arrived in that neighborhood and in this world on the suffocating January 15, 1937, and six years later his brother occupied his cradle emilio robertalso in the ferocious January of 1943, with a thermal –which had not yet been measured– of 50 degrees and above.

The younger, as soon as he could, began to follow the older one step by step, also determined to duplicate him as an actor.

Emilio Disi in a scene from Bañeros 2, with Patricia Sarán and Mónica Gonzaga
Emilio Disi in a scene from Bañeros 2, with Patricia Sarán and Mónica Gonzaga

It fell from maturity. Seeing them together morning, afternoon and night were, for the not too creative of the worst of the bar, stop and stop. As is well understood without attending university, the nickname paradita was an obvious and constant trigger for dirty jokes.

But the little boy did not let himself be discouraged. He opened the phone book for the bar, poked a random finger at a page and a name, and the dice landed on the address of a notorious optician of those times: DiSi.

-Ready! From today my name is Emilio Disi –sentenced the youngest of the Paradas.

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Due to a strange epidermal trick, from now on and forever, Emilio wore the tip of his nose an equivocal red color. Perhaps not by chance: the red nose is the emblem of honor, the sacred sign of clowns…

And after much struggling behind closed doors, his baptism of fire came: the supporting role in marijuana smokethe film of Enrique Carreras. a guy named The Crazy Mane

followed We are the bestwith a soccer and racinguista atmosphere, and a key leap: entering the cast of you were mine one summerbeside Leonardo Favio… and Susana Gimenez!

An infallible duo: Susana Giménez and Emilio Disi
An infallible duo: Susana Giménez and Emilio Disi

That, until the 80s arrived. His time of epiphany. the tv series The Children of Lopez. The Telo and the TV. The World’s Craziest Bathers. The Exterminatorswith William Francella. And the signatures follow: tail brigade, stress, gatebreaker, Married with children, All against Juan, The Cage of the Crazy

But little is remembered as much as the sketch by Susana Giménez in the role of Susana Spadafucileand he like Mariano Garipetti, her husband. But no less than the son of don matthewthe one of the Hair salon

However, the abundant, almost overwhelming statistics of titles and decades under the spotlight and before the cameras is not enough to define it. In short: it was born for it.

His face, at times –especially in some dramatic roles in which he had to take off his clown clothes– could transform into a strange and painful grimace.

Small in body (could be an ideal left or right wing), each of his movements seemed impelled by a secret electric current. It is possible that he has read scripts and respected them… but whoever bets on the contrary wins: like other greats, the improvisation, the crazy start, the off script, always fit him like a tailor-made suit cut on Saville Row. If you ask me for a short and comprehensive title, I already have it: prince of the unexpected.

And although the relationship was short-lived and did not end in a bed of roses, he was married to an actress, formerly a stunning revue theater beauty: dorys del valle. They separated in 1991 after 18 years of marriage.

On Friday, February 7, 2003, at the age of 66, prostate cancer took Pepe, his brother. Despite the premature diagnosis, the clear chances of overcoming it, Pepe was terrified of everything that he had to do with treatments, chemotherapy, surgeries. He let himself be, resorted to absurd alternative therapies, and evil struck him down at a fixed time.

Emilio Disi (Damián Rodríguez)
Emilio Disi (Damián Rodríguez)

Symmetries of fate chance, or whatever you want to call it: in the middle of 2017, after a routine check-up, the blow. Lung cancer. Far from the classic post-diagnosis steps (from anger to acceptance, and from there to face the battle), Disi went out to fight like a warrior:

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“Cancer won’t beat me.”

Treatment started. The first signs were hopeful: apparently there were no metastases.

True to his expansive, explosive, confrontational character, in November of that year –already turned 74– he appeared on television for the first time since the grim news. Where else? In the Susana Giménez program, but no longer as the husband of the famous sketch. Like a patient in his most arduous role: telling his bad news and announcing that he would come to grips with it.

Serene, with an almost unknown half tone in him, and without breaking down, he narrated each chapter of the drama. And suddenly…, in that tense atmosphere and under the blinding lights of the studio, he was Emilio Disi again. Not to start laughing, but smiles:

—With this disease, if you get depressed… you went! When the doctor told me “lung cancer”, I said: “Excuse me, I’ll go to the bathroom and come back”. But I didn’t go to the bathroom. I went to the street and started bitching. “Son of a bitch, I’m going to beat you!” Suddenly I stopped and said: “Cancer is feminine or masculine?” I got confused between the chemo and the tumor. But the tumor is dying, and if all goes as God intended, I have one more session of chemo left. I lost like 14 kilos. Chemo steals your hunger, ruins your stomach and kidneys. It’s poison… but the screwed up, it gets it out of you.

Long pause. And then…

-I feel better. I recently went out to eat with my friends… and I almost ate the waiters! But I’m sorry for Elvira, my partner: she’s under 18 pressure… Stress and smoking played a trick on me…

Emilio Disi in The Search, a great 1985 film in which he excelled in a dramatic ro
Emilio Disi in The Search, a great 1985 film in which he excelled in a dramatic ro

Stress that reached its peak two decades after his end with Dorys del Valle.

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Genesis. She, in the living room intrudersburied him.

– He’s a grudge. When he was nobody, I opened the door for him, added him to the cast of Dario Vittori. She had a two-year-old child, and neither a car, a house, nor a suit…

Disi’s defense:

—With Dorys we work as an acting couple despite something very serious. I have visual memory. I read the script twice and bye. I know everything. We have worked with Susana for 14 years. We would read the script once and throw it away! But Dorys had to pass the lyrics 30 times. She was mechanized, and grace was lost.

And the storm grew into lightning, thunder and lightning.

She accused him: “He left our house, which I bought, and took everything.” Reply: “She was left with a house of 600 thousand dollars, two apartments, and land in Punta del Este and Mar del Plata. Almost 60% of our patrimony”.

Awful. It is hard to write about these miseries –true or false– when one of the two is no longer in the world. It is better to turn the page. The past and the present do not matter, and there is no future either, except the memory.

The only thing that matters in a man, Emilio, with the last name of an optician chosen in the guide, who was alone before the Great Gate, and crossed it despite so much struggle and so much hope.

Although not alone. From somewhere, the ghosts of that table in the Florida Garden welcomed him with the same mystique as Racing’s triumphs in its golden years.

Perhaps with them a second life awaits him. Astral, mysterious, impenetrable for those who have not yet arrived.

And not a little leaves us. A vast, infinite legacy of laughter, captured in the archives, the jaws of cinema and television.

We honor his life. Because in the best of times or in the worst of times, how it started Charles Dickens his immortal novel History of two cities, laughter will always be a privilege. And even miracle…

So be it.

*This note was originally published in 2018 by Alfredo Serra

Keep reading:

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