Uruguayan writer Antonio "Taco" Larreta dies

Montevideo, Aug 20 (EFE).- Uruguayan actor and writer Antonio "Taco" Larreta, whose output ranged from plays to an award-winning novel, has died in Montevideo after a long illness, sources close to the family told EFE. He was 92.

Larreta died at the home in the capital he shared with his sisters.

During a sojourn in Spain to escape Uruguay's 1973-1985 military dictatorship, Larreta wrote screenplays for films such as Mario Camus' "Los santos inocentes" and "La casa de Bernarda Alba," and Jaime Chavarri's "Las cosas del querer."

Uruguay's Comedia Nacional, an institution once led by Larreta, is currently preparing to stage one of his plays.

"He was a generous and much loved person," the Comedia Nacional's current director, Margarita Musto, said of Larreta. "Besides his enormous artistic talent, he was an exceptional human being, committed with everything that happened in this country."

"Larreta transcended the theatre to become a personification of the country's culture," she said.

The Montevideo native began his career as an amateur actor and theatre critic and was a founder of the Club de Teatro, which staged classic plays.

While still a young man, Larreta spent time traveling and working in Spain, France, and Italy, where in 1955 he obtained an internship as assistant to opera and theater director Giorgio Strehler.

During his exile in Spain, he renewed his childhood friendship with Uruguayan actor Sancho Gracia, who offered Larreta the chance to write the script for the 1976-1977 television series "Curro Jimenez."

Larreta's novel "Volaverunt," based on the life of painter Francisco de Goya, received the 1980 Planeta Award for outstanding novel.

In 1992, Larreta, Francisco Prada and Pedro Olea shared the Goya - Spain's equivalent of the Oscar - for best adapted screenplay in recognition of their work on the film "El maestro de esgrima," based on the novel by Arturo Perez-Reverte.