María Valero. Photo: Archive.

On November 26, 1948, Havana's main newspapers reported that María Valero, the famous protagonist of the radio soap opera "The Right to Be Born," had been run over by a drunk driver.

Shortly before dawn, María was crossing Avenida del Puerto, accompanied by dancers Emilia Aragón and Avelino Rangel, when a speeding car emerged from the shadows.

Aragón and Rangel escaped unharmed, declaring that the actress had begged them to accompany her to the Malecón to observe a bright comet visible before sunrise.

Much was written about that event, speculating between a homicidal driver and a circumstantial murder. But our task is not to demarcate reality or legend, but to clarify what no author has yet specified: the name of the comet that is the protagonist of the final act in the mortal career of María Valero. This is the "Great Comet Eclipse", discovered on November 1, 1948 by a scientific expedition sent to Nairobi, Kenya, to study an eclipse of the sun.

With the data from that report, José Carlos Millás, director of the National Observatory, wrote an informative note explaining that the star could be observed from Cuba, between the constellations of Hydra and Corvus, where its core shone followed by a tail of 30º above the horizon.

Perhaps, that information led Maria to the Malecón, without suspecting the sad end that awaited her. Thus, the Great Eclipse Comet lost its name among Cubans, immortalized by the people who 75 years ago renamed it "the comet of María Valero."

(Taken from the author's Facebook profile)

See also:

Yaremis Pérez and the challenge of being María Valero

The Novel of the Air