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Malaga loses a comedy genius

Crowds turned up for the funeral in the church in La Trinidad on Sunday.
Crowds turned up for the funeral in the church in La Trinidad on Sunday. / Álvaro Cabrera
  • Comedian and flamenco artist Chiquito de la Calzada, died last weekend, aged 85

Spain's most famous comedians and Andalucía's highest authorities joined hundreds of members of the general public who crowded into and around San Pablo church in the city's Trinidad district on Sunday to bid farewell to Chiquito de la Calzada, who died on Saturday morning.

Born in Malaga in 1932, Chiquito - whose real name was Gregorio Sánchez - was a much-loved comedian who became a household name in Spain in the nineties after appearing on numerous TV shows.

His unique form of storytelling, complete with a trademark silly walk and a whole new surreal vocabulary, won the hearts of viewers, and he made regular appearances on TV and in films until the early years of the new century.

Chiquito was no stranger to the stage, however, starting his performing career in the world of flamenco. As a youth he had climbed onto tables to sing to diners in roadside 'ventas' in the Montes de Málaga and later he could be found on stage in the legendary flamenco 'tablao' El Jaleo in Torremolinos, hand-clapping, stamping and singing in the background, behind the dancers.

He was one of the first Spanish flamenco artists to take his art to Japan, spending two years in the country where his stage name was altered to 'Chiquitosan', and he went on tour in Germany with Camarón de la Isla and Tomatito.

However it was his charisma and humour that opened doors to television and wider fame.

He had lived alone in Malaga since his wife, Josefa García (Pepita), died in 2012, and more than 50 years of marriage.

Institutional recognition came last year in the form of the title of 'Hijo Predilecto' of Malaga given by the provincial government.

Posthumous honours are likely to follow. Spain's minister for Culture, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, proposed this week that Chiquito be granted the Medalla de Oro de las Bellas Artes (Gold Medal of Fine Arts).

Malaga's mayor has promised a sculpture of the artist in the city's park and numerous proposals to give his name to streets and squares have been made this week.