Argentine actor Alberto de Mendoza, one of the heartthrobs of Spanish movies and the leading man in close to 200 films co-starring such actresses as Carmen Sevilla and Sara Montiel, died Monday in Madrid, the AISGE performing artists association said. He was 88.

The actor, to be cremated Tuesday at Almudena Cemetery in Madrid, was admitted several days ago to La Luz Clinic with breathing failure.

The star of films like "Tapas," "Una Abuelita de antes de la Guerra" (Pre-war Grandma), "Filomena Marturano" and "Zorrita Martinez", Alberto Manuel Rodriguez Gallego Gonzalez de Mendoza, a Buenos Aires native from the Belgrano neighborhood and a pioneer among Argentine actors who made it on the Spanish stage, he was born on Jan. 21, 1923.

Member No. 136 of AISGE - an organization that in 2009 awarded him its Actua Prize for his lifetime career - De Mendoza made his name in the 1970s as one of the outstanding heroes of Spanish movies, with Carmen Sevilla and Sarita Montiel as his leading ladies.

Last Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires he made another big hit in his final role as the macho grandpa in "La Mala Verdad" (The Evil Truth), a Miguel Angel Roca film that at the last Malaga Festival in southern Spain won him the prize as Best Ibero-American Actor.

In leading roles and as a supporting actor in more than 190 movies, he has been rediscovered by younger generations for his winning performance as the little old grandpa in "Tapas," a role he described as "likeable and short."

His children, psychologist Belen and adman Fabian, remembered him Monday morning as "a passionate man, temperamental, in love with his work," according to the AISGE note.

Alberto de Mendoza, who shared top billing with Alberto Closas, Jack Palance, Irene Papas and Peter Cushing, was set to make a 13-episode series for Argentine television and in the summer expected to premiere "Las Brujas de Salem" (The Witches of Salem) in Buenos Aires movie theaters.

When his Spanish parents left him an orphan at age 5, little Alberto de Mendoza "was sent to live" in Madrid, where he fell in love with acting at the Arguelles Cinema and in the theater, particularly when sneaking in to see the operettas known as "zarzuelas" at the Teatro Lara, AISGE recalls.