When Cantinflas slept in the White House at the invitation of a president

Thanks to Mario Moreno's friendships with several politicians, he was one of the first Mexicans to be invited to sleep in the residence of the US presidents

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Mario Moreno Cantinflas was one of the most important actors of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, which not only led him to earn a great fortune but to have such recognition that he was invited to sleep in the White House.

Although Mario Moreno became famous for his comedy from his role as Cantinflas, he also drew his attention because of his ties to politics, since in addition to becoming friends with former President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, he maintained a close relationship with former US President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Cantinflas and Johnson met thanks to Diaz Ordaz, who invited them both to have dinner with him, long before the two politicians came to power in their respective countries. That meeting was successful, as Lyndon and his wife, Claudia Alta, known as Lady Bird, quickly became fans of the actor, as they had not met another artist who laughed so openly at the rulers.

“Cantinflas”, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz and Lyndon Johnson met several times in Mexico and the United States, the friendship arose from one of those occasions when the three met (Photo: INAH)

That first impression Johnson had of Moreno was so good that it ensured that if the Mime in the raincoat ran for public office in Mexico or the United States, he would be able to get him and his wife to retire from their careers, however, it was clear that the comedian preferred to “'mock presidents rather than compete against them'”, recalled Lady Bird in her diary.

It was in 1961 that the friendship between the protagonist of There is detail and Lyndon Johnson began when the latter, being vice president of the United States, sought the help of the histrion to support the campaign of Henry B. Gonzalez, a Mexican American who sought to gain a place in Congress.

Moreno actively participated in Gonzalez's campaign, so talks with the then vice president were constant and the two times the actor went to the United States for the election he stayed at the Johnsons' house; from this interaction friendship was born.

When Lyndon Johnson had already become the 36th president of the United States after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he decided to invite Cantinflas to sleep in the White House, with the Mime in the raincoat being the first Mexican to do so.

“Lady Bird” compiled in her diary the interactions she and her husband had with “Cantinflas”, as they considered him a very close friend (Photo: Twitter/ @LBJLibrary)

As Lady Bird recalled in her diary, it was in the autumn of 1967 that her husband told her that he had invited the comedian as his guest in the White House, so he had to “make room”.

That was not the only time that Johnson demonstrated how much he appreciated the protagonist of The Sweeper, because he also did so when the artist was doing his best to find an effective treatment for bone cancer that his wife, Valentina Ivanova, suffered.

In 1966 Lady Bird and her husband received the news that Cantinflas wanted to go to Texas because there she would look for one last chance to help Ivanova, however, the plane they were traveling on had problems and did not make the flight.

Johnson decided that the activities of one of his planes would be canceled to send him to pick up Moreno and his wife and take them directly to their ranch, to take them from there to Texas with the presidential plane, trying to help them in the midst of their pain. The actor and his son were very grateful for the gesture of the then president and presented him with an Aztec medal as a symbol of their gratitude for the president's kindness.


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