She acted with Errol Flynn and knew Cantinflas. She has worked with internationally-celebrated Cuban artists like Rita Montaner, Rosita Fornés and Bola de Nieve. Over more than seventy years, Aurorita Pita has starred in dozens of radio and television soap operas, plays and films. She has won the most important acting awards in Cuba and receives displays of affection from her public every day. But this whole story began in Spain….
She was just a two-month-old baby in her mother’s arms when she left the Spanish city of La Coruña on an English ship, the youngest Galician immigrant to arrive in Havana in 1936.
“Love for Spain and especially for Galicia was passed on to me by my whole family. I remember when I was young, I would attend a lot of romerías (traditional parties) at the Galician clubs, where people danced and played the bagpipes…. Maybe that was the origin of my vocation for the stage. I always wanted to be an actress,” she said.
In the summer of 1951, Aurorita’s life took a definitive turn.
“I was going to school and one day I found out that acting tests were being held. I went, and to my surprise, they hired me to be the young first lady in the Crusellas company. It was the early days of radio and television in Cuba. When I began working I had to change the way I talked, because despite the fact that I had always lived in Cuba, I still had the Galician accent I had learned from my parents!
“From then on, my life changed completely. Because I was so pretty and tall, I always played the daughter of high-society ladies in the soap operas. Just imagine, I practically never saw daylight, because I would leave home at dawn and come back at night — I would spend fourteen hours in a television studio, and sometimes I played up to three characters simultaneously. At that time, television was live. Just imagine memorizing so many scripts! I had so much work that it took me a long time to finish high school.”
Since then, Aurora has brought to life hundreds of characters from the great classics to the most contemporary works.
“There have been so many! I remember that I once played a country girl on the television program ‘Horizontes’ and people didn’t recognize me! That is the wonderful thing about TV and being an actress,” Aurora says.
“I also remember the soap opera ‘Sol de Batey,’ one of the biggest successes of Cuban television ever. I played the character of a great lady of the native-born aristocracy, Doña Gertrudis de Sandoval y Santa Cruz.
“In theater, there was a very special play that had a long run. I was the star and on the next-to-last day, I had to jump out of a wagon, enter from one side of the stage and exit the other, with some costume changes. Somebody put an amplifier there, and because the whole stage was dark, I tripped on it. I felt a terrible pain and that’s how I exited, because it was the final scene. I couldn’t stand up because of the pain; I had dislocated one of my legs. “Then the audience went wild with applause, thinking that it was part of the act. They applauded and applauded for me to come out on stage, but there was no way, I couldn’t, and from there I went straight to the hospital in an ambulance. And the next day, in terrible pain, I went to do the last show. That is respect for your profession.”
She has received numerous acting awards, but none has moved her more than the one she was granted in 1995 for her role as “the Galician Catalina” in the soap opera El año que viene (Next Year).
“When they proposed the character to me, the director did not know that I was born in Galicia,” she says. “In any case, I had to learn more, study new words and ask my mother a lot of questions. I used her memories to make it into a tribute to Galician immigrants. Now everybody calls me ‘La Gallega’ (the Galician woman). It was no coincidence that the character was a hit, because one of her main traits was her warm and friendly personality. It is a tradition that comes from Cuban bufo theater, where there is almost always a Galician woman together with a negrito (black man) and a mulata (mixed-ancestry woman). Those are some of the elements that contribute to the Cuban identity.”
With 60 years of artistic life behind her, Aurorita is still active. Recently, she has done several radio soap operas and a series of monologues for television. Fortunately for her millions of admirers, this living legend can still be found at the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television.