Juan MANUEL PUIG Delledonne, commonly called Manuel Puig, was an Argentine author who died on this date (b: 1932). Among his best-known novels are La traición de Rita Hayworth (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth, 1968), Boquitas pintadas (Heartbreak Tango, 1969), and El beso de la mujer araña (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1976) which was adapted into the film released in 1985, directed by the Argentine-Brazilian director Héctor Babenco; and a Broadway musical in 1993.
Puig lived in exile throughout most of his life. In 1989, Puig moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he died in 1990. In the previous months, he had stopped smoking on his doctor’s orders and took daily walks but did not feel well at the altitude of Mexico. He also made sure to receive his care in a clinic near his house so he would not be far away from his mother, but for economic reasons and availability of contacts, he had access to higher quality medical attention. In the official biography, Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fiction, his close friend Suzanne Jill Levine writes that Puig had been in pain for a few days prior to being admitted to a hospital, where he was told what needed to be done.
On July 21, 1990, he was checked into Las Palmas Surgical Center for risk of peritonitis. An emergency procedure was performed on his inflamed gallbladder, which was removed. While Puig was recovering after the surgery, he began to have respiratory problems; his lungs had filled with fluid, and he was becoming delirious. The medical team was unable to help Puig and they had to secure him to the bed. He died from acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) on July 22, 1990.
His death leaked quickly through the media. Although he had a background of cardiac problems, the first public assumption was that he had died from AIDS. It was soon ascertained that Manuel Puig was not a carrier of HIV. Nevertheless, the public had already contested that fact several times.
Only six people attended his funeral service, including his mother, his friends Javier Labrada and Agustín Garcia Gil, and his colleague Tununa Mercado who happened to be on his way to Xalapa city in Veracruz.
When Jorge Abelardo Ramos, the Argentine ambassador of Mexico was asked to speak to the media about the death of Manuel Puig, he responded by saying that he was not aware of the death of an Argentine with that name. Regardless, they had his body sent to the Federal District of Mexico for his funeral rites with the Writer’s Society, and the ambassador arrived and gave a speech.
Puig’s remains were sent to Argentina a few days later and were placed in the Puig family tomb in the cemetery of La Plata.