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Mexico's 'Mr. Telenovela' dies at 90, leaves behind soap opera legacy


7:42 a.m. August 7, 2007

MEXICO CITY – Ernesto Ramirez Alonso – best known as “Mr. Telenovela” for directing and producing dozens of Mexican soap operas – died early Tuesday, Mexico's Televisa network reported. He was 90.

Alonso died at his Mexico City home, Televisa said.

Born in the central state of Aguascalientes, Alonso quickly rose to the top in Mexico's film industry, starring alongside such greats as Maria Felix and Jorge Negrete.

Later he went on to work with renowned Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel, narrating his 1950 production “Los Olvidados” or “The Forgotten,” an award-winning classic about Mexico City slum children.

In 1959, Alonso left films behind to work in television.

He produced his first soap opera in 1960 called “El Otro.” He went on to produce and direct more than 20, and claimed to be the first in the world to make telenovelas based on historical events such as Mexico's War of Independence.

“You can't talk about Mexican television without mentioning the contribution and work of Ernesto Alonso,” Televisa said on its Web site.

Alonso's work helped make Mexico's Televisa – the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world – a leader in telenovelas. Televisa's telenovelas generated a total revenue of about US$3.45 billion (euro2.56 billion) in 2006. The programs shown around the globe are dubbed into more than 50 languages, including Romanian and Korean.

Alonso leaves behind a daughter, a son and eight grandchildren. He will be cremated Tuesday afternoon and Televisa plans to hold a memorial service at its studios on Wednesday.
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