Carlos Sánchez, 83, Dies; Embodied Colombian Coffee as Juan Valdez

Carlos Sánchez, 83, Dies; Embodied Colombian Coffee as Juan Valdez

Carlos Sánchez, who for nearly four decades played Juan Valdez, the embodiment of Colombian coffee and one of the most recognizable pitchmen in the world, died on Dec. 29 in Medellín. He was 83.

His death was confirmed in an email from Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers, which did not specify the cause.

Mr. Sánchez first donned Valdez’s signature wide-brimmed hat in 1969. He took over for Jose F. Duval, a Cuban actor who had played the character since it was created by the New York advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1959.

Mr. Sánchez was Colombian and grew coffee as a youth before turning to painting and acting. As Valdez, an indefatigable farmer with a warm expression, a lush mustache and a mule named Conchita, he became an avatar for the farmers who harvested Colombia’s coffee beans and a positive depiction of a country that was often equated with terrorism and drug trafficking.

His survivors include a wife and two sons.

A downturn in coffee prices beginning in the late 1990s led the Colombian coffee growers’ federation to dial back its advertising, putting Valdez at risk. Mr. Sánchez said that losing the character would be like undergoing an amputation.

“Juan Valdez is an integral part of Carlos Sánchez,” he told The Times in 2001. “So if Juan Valdez ceases to exist, well, naturally it is like losing a limb.”

Valdez survived the setback, and in 2006 Mr. Sánchez retired from the role, which he said he had played with pride.

“I feel like a flag,” he said at a news conference. “I feel like I’ve represented the country.”

The new Juan Valdez is Carlos Castaneda, who grew up working in coffee plantations and owned one of his own.

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