“El Manisero” – “The Peanut Vendor”

I originally published this tribute to “The Peanut Vendor” in 2014 as part of another post celebrating the entries to the Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage Blogathon. Given the importance of the song and the fact that it played a role in many classic movies I thought it deserved its own refreshed post as a short tribute to my native Cuba. “The Peanut Vendor” is the island’s most influential song – perhaps second only to its unofficial anthem, “Guantanamera.” With this I kick off this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

 

Originally titled, “El Manicero,” “The Peanut Vendor” was written by Moïse Simons and is styled as if it were a street vendor’s cry. The song has been recorded over 150 times and by some of the greatest musicians and bands the world over for decades. “The Peanut Vendor” has also been featured in various ways in movies through the years. One of my favorites, not surprisingly, is George Cukor’s A Star is Born (1954) where “The Peanut Vendor” is incorporated into Judy’s “Born in a Trunk” medley/sequence.

A STAR IS BORN, Judy Garland 1954, ‘The Peanut Vendor’ number

Following is “El Manicero” via a few links to popular recorded versions and movie clips. You’ll no doubt be whistling the tune once you’re through visiting these classic clips.

 

  • Don Azpiazu and The Havana Casino Orchestra recorded “El Manicero” in 1930. Here it is. It was this Orchestra’s performance of “El Manicero” at New York’s Palace Theater that resulted in “The Peanut Vendor” becoming a hit across the U.S. and is credited by some as responsible for started the rumba craze.

 

  • The California Ramblers were the first U.S. group to record “The Peanut Vendor” in 1930. Here is their version.

 

  • Later that same year “The Peanut Vendor” was recorded by Louis Armstrong

 

Lawrence Tibbett learning “El Manisero” from Lupe Velez
  • A Fleischer Studios cartoon from the animated series, “Screen Songs,” THE PEANUT VENDOR from 1933.

 

 

  • At about 1:54 in this clip Jean Arthur asks, “Does anyone know ‘The Peanut Vendor’?” – “Si, como no?”  And the crowd around the piano starts the call led by Cary Grant in this scene from Only Angels Have Wings (1939).
Howard Haws’ Only Angels Have Wings

 

 

  • I’m not sure of the year of this recording, but I certainly can’t leave out a Desi Arnaz version of “The Peanut Vendor.”  Here it is performed by the Desi Arnaz Orchestra.

 

 

 

 

  • In Luxury Liner (1948) Xavier Cugat accompanies Jane Powell for this version of “El Manicero.” By the way, Cugat recorded several versions of the song through the years.

 

 

 

 

There are many, many more clips and recordings to share, including Groucho whistling “The Peanut Vendor” in Duck Soup (1933), but I’ll stop with these examples. As it is you may never have peanuts again.

Due to its “cultural importance,” “The Peanut Vendor” was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry by the National Recording Preservation Board, which noted:

“It is the first American recording of an authentic Latin dance style.  This recording launched a decade of ‘rumbamania’, introducing U.S. listeners to Cuban percussion instruments and Cuban rhythms.”
“The Peanut Vendor” was inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.

Stay tuned for many more posts honoring Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage on October 15 when I promote entries on this blog and across social media.

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