Sunday, November 9, 2014
A Most Happy Fella
In yesterday's NYT obituary on Mr. de Plata, Bruce Weber renders affection and respect when he describes Mr, de Plata as having lived "a life of fulfilled appetites."
Known as a free spender, as well as a money making machine from his recordings and concerts, Mr. de Plata perhaps not surprisingly outlived what fortunes he made by wide margins. He befriended numerous famous people, generally in Europe, and especially on the French Riviera.
As the Cher song goes, he was "born in a wagon," a Romany Gypsy caravan in 1921 in Cette, France as Ricardo Baliardo. He adopted the name Manitas de Plata, which translated means "little hands of silver."
Usually, when someone who achieves notoriety in any field passes away, the names of the immediate survivors are given, along with a count of grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren. Given Mr. de Plata's joie de vivre lifestyle, only the name of one of his female partners is given, (and not the sole wife) Claudette Mariaux, and a daughter from that relationship, Francoise.
It is easy to understand why Mr. de Plata might have had financial trouble. The birthday presents and cards alone would strain any income.