90 years of Las Ventas

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Just 90 years ago, La Monumental de Sales welcomed 23,000 fans, including Alcala Zamora, the Republican president who from the Royal Box witnessed the first poster of the charity run formed by Nicanor Villalta, Fortuna, Luis Fuentes Bejarano, Armillita Chico, Vicente Barrera, Marcial Lalanda, Fausto Barajas and Manuel Mejías Welcome. That June 17, Diego Mazquirán ‘Fortuna’ made the first sword against the ‘Hortelano’, from Juan Pedro Domecq’s livestock.

At that time, the largest bullfighting arena in the world in neo-Mudejar style with Talavera pottery and exposed brick was predestined to make history. Throughout these nine decades, the most important characters of the twentieth century have enjoyed their lines that gave different tonalities to the social chronicles and the press of the heart.

The Nobel Prize Ernest Hemingway, who also idolized the Sanfermines, often went to see his great friend Antonio Ordonez -father of the queen of hearts, Carmina Ordonez, and grandfather of Francisco (47 years old) and Cayetano Rivera (44) -, whose adventures and rivalries with his then brother-in-law, Luis Miguel Dominguín, reflected in three consecutive issues of the magazine Life on The dangerous summer (1959), which would later become a book. The two stars did not get along, they were both teachers of teachers, but Dominguín beat him in terms of dating.

Antonio Ordoñez, in a bullfight in Las Ventas.

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The father of Miguel Bosé (65) was a male made in Spain that she had untold innumerable hotel beds in the arms of Lana Turner, Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner, Miroslava Stern, María Félix or Rita Hayworth. Some of those lovers saw him at work – the professional one. Above all, Ava Gardner, who did not hesitate to pose with him and his sister Bappie on May 1, 1954 while the protagonist of Pandora and the flying dutchman -During filming he got involved with the extorero turned actor Mario Cabré– She was still married to Frank Sinatra. Later in the Castellana Hilton they fought their own battle of horns because the right-hander was already purring to Lucia Bosé, muse of Italian neorealism. At the 1959 San Isidro Fair, the Bacall also attended a novillada.

But Ordóñez also had influential friends, like Orson Welles, who felt admiration for his art, so he did not hesitate to attend the first bullfight of the San Isidro Fair in 1961. Their friendship reached such an extent that the ashes of the prestigious director and ex-husband of Rita Hayworth rest since 1987 in a blind well covered with flowers on the Ronda farm of El Recreo de San Cayetano, which is currently rented by his grandsons Francisco and Cayetano.

King Juan Carlos, in an image captured in Las Ventas in 2002.

King Juan Carlos, in an image captured in Las Ventas in 2002.

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This square has lived truly historical moments. In 1947, Franco invited Argentine President Juan Domingo Perón with a strategic-commercial purpose since our country had been left out of the Marshall Plan. The boss didn’t come, but he sent his cunning wife Avoid, that on June 12 of that year a tribute was paid to him in Las Ventas together with the dictator while vital agreements were signed by which Argentina would provide wheat to Spain and this would send lead, engines and machinery for the industrialization of the Andean country. A decade later, Fernando Botán was the only photographer to record the visit of Che Guevara dressed in his black beret and olive green military uniform watching from the sidelines the spectacle of September 3, 1959.

At a time when Madrid had become an appendage of classic Hollywood, Grace Kelly, Gina Lollobrigida passed through Las Ventas (93), Sophia Loren (86), Anita Ekberg, Audrey Hepburn and her husband Mel Ferrer, Charlton Heston – who they photographed fighting in the hall in a practical class of maestro Domingo Ortega in 1961 – and Marlene Dietrich, who came to offer her only concert in our country at the Pavillion hall. Among the homelands stood out Lola Flores, Marisol (73), Joaquin Sabina (72), Carmen Posadas (67), Paz Vega (45), Sergio Ramos (35), Maria Jose Campanario (42) and Pedro Piqueras (66), among others.

Cayetano Rivera, during the bullfight at the San Isidro Fair 2018.

Cayetano Rivera, during the bullfight at the San Isidro Fair 2018.

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One of the (last) most tender public moments between Juan Carlos I (83) and Adolfo Suarez took place on June 3, 1998 in the heart of San Isidro, where these two great friends shared confidences with the camaraderie that characterized them. The emeritus has always been a fan of the party, a passion inherited for the Infanta Elena (57), who was seen with her daughter Victoria Federica (20) in early May after a year and a half without runs due to the pandemic. In Zarzuela there is also the anti-bullfighting side, led by the Queen Sofia (82), whose last images in the arena date from the 60s, and the queen Letizia (48). Among other exceptional spectators at the festival organized by the Center for Bullfighting Affairs (CAT) attended Jaime Ostos (90) -one of the last living classical figures, Ortega Cano (67) and his daughter Gloria Camila (25), and Cayetana Rivera (21), great-granddaughter of the great Ordóñez and granddaughter of the Duchess of Alba. In the sand, The Juli (38), Jose Mari Manzanares Y Enrique Ponce (49), which drove the paparazzi to ask him why he does not sign the divorce of Paloma Cuevas (48).

Among painters, Picasso and Dalí they always showed their support for the Fiesta. In fact, the poster for the Culture bullfight on July 4 features a portrait of the Catalan artist by Tomás Pérez Indiano with watercolor, graphite, acrylic, coffee and bleach. Maestro Picasso also starred in the posters with his series Bullfighting and considered his intimate Luis Miguel Dominguín as art in itself. As a result of the crisis caused by Covid-19, the future of Las Ventas is somewhat uncertain.

[Más información: Luis Miguel Dominguín y sus amores: el suicidio de Miroslava Stern, las noches locas con Ava Gardner…]

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