Blanco, Roberto (*1937)

Contributor: Heike Raphael-Hernandez
Contributor Heike Raphael-Hernandez
(First published in Encyclopedia of Blacks in European history and culture (2008) Ed. Eric Marlone, ABC-CLIO Inc. Re-published here with permission of ABC-CLIO Inc.)

Roberto Blanco (also Roberto Zerquera) is a German pop singer and actor of Afro-Cuban descent. Although the height of his career occurred in the late 1960s and 1970s, he is still a widely known pop artist in Germany.

Blanco was born on June 7, 1937, in Tunis, Tunisia, to Roberto Zerquera and his wife Mercedes Blanco, who were both Cuban revue artists. Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to Paris, France; however, due to the looming danger of another war in Europe, they soon decided to move again, this time to Beirut, Lebanon. Soon after their arrival in Beirut, his mother died when Blanco was only two years old.

After living for thirteen years in Lebanon and receiving most of his education in boarding schools in Beirut, he moved to Madrid, Spain, to join his travelling artist father in Europe again. Blanco finished high school in Madrid where he also began his studies in medicine.

In 1957, he made his film debut with A Star of Africa in which he played the personal assistant to a German fighter pilot who was killed during World War II in a plane crash in North Africa. Even if this was just a minor role, the movie opened further doors for him, and many film offers followed after this first one. While most of the films were productions for German TV, a few of the movies became known in the English speaking world such as The Hellhounds of Alaska (1973) and Three Men in the Snow (1974).

His film debut in 1957 caused him also to reconsider his professional dreams, which lead him to abandon the medical field after only two semesters. A move to Germany followed where he began to take singing lessons. In 1958, he received an offer to perform with Josephine Baker as part of her touring company.

While he never played a leading role in any film production, he was able to rise to stardom in Germany as a singer of popular music. In 1969 he won the German Pop Festival with his song “Heute so, morgen so” (Today this way, tomorrow that way). Yet he celebrated his biggest success in 1972 with his hits “Der Puppenspieler von Mexiko” (The puppeteer of Mexico) and “Ein bißchen Spaß muss sein” (There has to be a bit of fun).  Because of this success, he was offered his own TV show on German public television in 1973.

In 1986 he visited his parents’ home country, Cuba, for the very first time, where he was honoured by the Association of Cuban Writers and Artists for his international engagement for Cuba. In addition, Cuba celebrated him by making him the first foreign artist who was allowed to perform at the Tropicana revue in Havanna, Cuba, in 1987.

In 1994 he debuted as a producer with his album “Por tu amor” with songs in Spanish and musicians from South America.

Blanco, Roberto www.roberto-blanco.de

Blanco, Roberto. Meine Vitalgeheimnisse. Wiesbaden, Germany: Modul Verlag, 1999.