Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde (4 December 1892 20 November 1975) was dictator of Spain from 1939 until his death. He came to power during the Spanish Civil War, during which time he was supported by both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. He wisely chose to keep his distance from them, however, when the dress rehearsal ended and the big show began. Not to mention that, to the day he died, there were Republican Spanish strongholds that would resist him.
While Mussolini is widely regarded as something of a joke and Hitler the touchstone for evil, Franco falls somewhere in between. Championing the Falangism, a brand of quasi-Fascismnote which had the spicy garnish of Catholicism, Franco brutally cracked down on political opponents to solidify his reign. Blueshirts, his paramilitary secret police and equivalent to the Nazi Einsatzgruppen or SS, killed scores of people in Spain both on the streets and through means such as concentration camps. However, this was kindly overlooked by the rest of the western world when the Cold War began. After that, Franco went from enemy of freedom to valiant crusader against the evils of Communism. Over roughly the next 35 years, Franco would moderate his tone somewhat, and begin to become more of a standard military dictator more tolerable to NATO and the United States. After all, it was a bit difficult to claim the moral high ground when you were allies with the last remnant of fascism in Europe, especially with the spectre of World War II still hanging about.
Unlike his counterparts, he died relatively peacefully in 1975. In 2019 his body was moved from his gargantuan Valley of the Fallen mausoleum to a private family gravesite. As of 2020, he is still dead.
Appears in the following works:
- In the Alternate History timeline Fight and Be Right, Franco becomes a famous director after a successful career in the Spanish Navy.
- Given the penchant of the Spanish film industry for making movies about the Civil War, he's appeared in several:
- Espérame en el Cielo (where the protagonist is his body double)
- Dragon Rapide
- "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead" was one of the first Catch Phrases of Saturday Night Live. On "Weekend Update", Franco's continuing death was repeatedly reported as "news" by Chevy Chase. This was a parody of earlier real news coverage, which had constantly reported on Franco's declining health during slow news days.
- They were parodying NBC's own Today Show in particular. At the time, Today was only (only!) two hours long with the entire show airing live in the Eastern and Central time zones, while the Mountain and Pacific zones aired the second hour live as their *first* hour with the original first hour aired from tape in the second hour (Confused yet?), with live news breaks throughout. On the day Franco did die, the West Coast news breaks had to explain he was "still dead" as the main program taped in New York hours earlier discussed his pending death.
- Franco was referenced twice in Fawlty Towers. In "Basil the Rat", Basil explains to the Barcelona-born waiter Manuel that a local "hamster" is in fact a rat. Under his breath, Cleese mutters: "You do have rats in Spain, or did Franco have 'em all shot?" In another episode, a hotel guest asks where the Generalissimo is (referring to Basil), to which Manuel incredulously replies, "In Madrid!"
- Monegasque singer-songwriter and anarchist Léo Ferré wrote "Franco la muerte" (1964). In this highly confrontational song, he directly shouts at the dictator and lavishes him with contempt. Ferré refused to sing in Spain until Franco was dead.
- Portrayed by Pep Miràs on the third episode of Spanish science fiction series The Ministry of Time, as the mission is related to his meeting with Hitler in Hendaye.
Tropes as portrayed in fiction:
- Asshole Victim: In The Last Circus he tries to comfort the main character Javier while he's being treated like a dog by one of his colonels, but since Javier's whole life has been plagued by the Civil War, the least he can do when he's in front of the man who's the true main culprit of his misery is savagely biting his hand.
- Body Double: In his second appearance on The Ministry of Time, the season 4 premiere, he employs at least two of them to corner a would-be murderer, and after they're done with him, he asks one of the doubles to fill in for him on a reception while he goes hunting.
- The Generalissimo: His ceremonial title, as Head of State. (Despite adopting in 1938 the five-star position of Captain-General by being the leader of all troops in Spain, his uniform always carried the four-star insignia of an Army General◊.)
- Greater-Scope Villain: In The Shadow of the Wind he is constantly mentioned and explained that the current situation is due to his government.
- The Napoleon: In his portrayal on The Ministry of Time: tiny, fat, with a high-pitched voice, but cruel.
- Not Quite Dead: In 1975 Franco fell ill and for quite some weeks there was a lot of media buzz that he was dying. Spanish officials denied the story for a long time, but eventually they had to admit the undeniable. The rumors led to a Running Gag in Saturday Night Live.
- The Remnant: Outlived Mussolini, Hitler, and fellow Iberian fascist leader António de Oliveira Salazar en route to become the last fascist leader in Europe. He eventually died of natural causes.