surinenglish

Torremolinos: overlooking its cultural heritage?

Torremolinos' bid to promote itself as a global centre of urban art was bolstered this week when Mayor José Ortiz unveiled the latest mural inspired by the famous icons who visited the resort during the town's golden age. The lifelike image of Frank Sinatra, which has been painted on the façade of a house in La Carihuela, is in honour of his visit to the town while filming scenes for Von Ryan's Express in El Chorro in 1964. The painting is part of a project, which includes the mural of Brigitte Bardot in Plaza Costa del Sol, designed to recover the "history and heritage" of the town. Several other murals, including one of Ava Gardner, will be commissioned later in the year.

However, some locals are surprised that 'Ol' Blue Eyes', who visited the town just once, is being honoured in this way considering that he branded the Spanish as "filthy fascist bastards". The comments were made following his arrest after an incident at the Hotel Pez Espada when a young aspiring Cuban actress called Ondina Cañibano was involved in a fracas in the hotel bar. The situation elevated when a paparazzi appeared and began taking pictures.

Sinatra was outraged and one of his associates snatched the camera, removed the film, and then smashed the camera on the floor.

Cañibano is said to have slapped the face of Sinatra, who retaliated by pushing her away with considerable force. Sinatra, who protested his innocence, was arrested and taken to the cells in Malaga police station. He was eventually released after paying a fine of 250,000 pesetas. The entertainer annoyed the police further by claiming they were "exactly the same as the Gestapo". He was escorted straight to the airport, where he is recorded as saying: "I will never return to this damned country."

This was a promise that Sinatra upheld, yet Torremolinos continues to treat him like a prodigal son, as does the Hotel Pez Espada.

Some residents believe that the council is ignoring some of the town's own, more deserving, celebrities, in preference to the Hollywood stars who merely passed through the town more than 50 years ago.

Most people will agree that Torremolinos has a fabled association with the high-flying celebrities and socialites who helped the town forge its reputation, yet it also has its own history filled with characters who have been pushed aside by the likes of Frank Sinatra and his contemporaries.

The most overlooked is the town's adopted son, El Carrete. Also known as the Gypsy Fred Astaire, this flamboyant dancer has lived in Torremolinos for more than 50 years and he has done more to pin the town on the map than any Hollywood celebrity.

There are many who believe that local stars should also be recogonised as part of the town's history and heritage. Maybe a mural of El Carrete would have been more fitting.