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Statue of Mexican singer, actor Antonio Aguilar unveiled at Olvera Street

By Hayley Fox
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012, at 04:18PM

Although the fountain was already at Olvera Street, the statue and its base were built specifically for the Antonio Aguilar statue.

A statue of Mexican musician and actor Antonio Aguilar was unveiled on Sunday at Olvera Street as part of the weekend's celebrations in honor of Mexican Independence Day. The 18-foot, bronze statue of Aguilar features him sitting on a horse -- a fitting depiction of the performer who died in 2007, and was known as "El Charro de Mexico" (the Mexican Cowboy).

The ceremony and concert included Councilman José Huizar, some of Aguilar's family members and the sculpture's designer, L.A. artist Dan Medina. The Los Angeles Times reports that the performer's son, Antonio Aguilar Jr., said at Sunday's event: "I think that he did something very important for our community, to make Mexican Americans and Salvadoran Americans and Guatemalan Americans and everybody proud of their heritage and not to be embarrassed to speak their language."

The statue was erected in the middle of an already existing fountain off of Alameda Street at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. The figure was built on top of a base crafted in Zacatecas, Mexico -- Aguilar's hometown.

According to Huizar's office, when Aguilar first came to Los Angeles in 1940 he slept on benches at Olvera Street for a few nights, before making a name for himself with his corridos and musical rodeos, and eventually climbing his way to fame and working with everyone from John Wayne to Rock Hudson.

"Antonio opened the doors of the United States and Latin America for us," famous Mexican performer Vicente Fernandez told music magazine, Billboard.

Aguilar recorded more than 150 albums, acted in even more films and married film star and singer Flor Silvestre, who he met on set in the late 1950s.

“He personifies the immigrant experience here in Los Angeles and reminds us all that if we work hard, we can achieve anything," said Huizar in a statement. "His statue is a tribute to the American Dream and I'm proud to have helped make this lasting tribute a reality.”

Huizar's office told the L.A. Times that the statue cost about $200,000 to create; the city contributed $50,000 and the rest came from private donors including the Guadalajara Foundation and Sigue Corp.

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