Matador legend dies, aged 66

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The Independent Online
SPAIN WAS in mourning yesterday for Antonio Ordonez, one of the last great matadors of bullfighting's golden age of the 1950s and 1960s, a friend of Orson Welles and an inspiration for Ernest Hemingway.

Spanish newspapers gave front-page coverage to Ordonez's death on Saturday: one, La Razon, relegated Clinton's impeachment to the foot of the page in favour of a sepia photo of their hero in his suit of lights.

Government ministers, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa and Spain's grandest grandee, the Duchess of Alba, were among hundreds who paid their respects at Seville town hall, where his body was laid in state yesterday. The Duchess's daughter married Ordonez's grandson, the matador Francisco Rivera Ordonez, in October in a ceremony broadcast live on state television and billed as the social event of the year.

Despite countless gorings and 27 serious injuries in nearly 30 years, it was cancer that killed Ordonez at the age of 66. Born in Ronda in 1932, he was the son of a bullfighter, Nino de la Palma, who was the hero of Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises. When Ordonez jnr met the writer, he asked: "Am I as good as my father?" Hemingway replied: "You're better."

Ronda declared three days of official mourning, and black-draped flags flew at half-mast. Ordonez is to be cremated today and his ashes scattered on the sand of Ronda bullring, the cradle of Spanish bullfighting.

Obituary, Review, page 6