There’s little consensus when it comes to the early life of Maria Rosario Pilar Lorenza Emilia Eugenia Martinez Molina Baeza De La Osa Rasten – except that she’s long been called Charo. What is agreed upon, however, is that she’s a true genius when it comes to self-promotion and that her talents as a singer/musician and comedian are undeniable. And this truly original lady is about to celebrate another year on this planet – at least, according to the celebrant herself.
Happy Birthday, Charo!
And that’s because she was (supposedly) born on January 15, 1951, in Murcia, Spain, which means that this beloved performer is turning 70 years old today! Charo landed her first big break in 1964 when she was added to the roster of Cuban bandleader Xavier Cugat.
Cugat, spitting mad over his divorce from fourth wife (and fellow performer) Abbe Lane, had decided that he would seek out a female replacement who would be the polar opposite of the outgoing “femme fatale.”
Charo fit the bill…perfectly. She and Cugat eventually emigrated to the U.S., married (their ceremony would be the first to take place inside Caesar’s Palace), and divorced.
Charo made her U.S. TV debut in an episode of The Today Show. Over the next two decades, she would become a staple of late-night talk shows – she appeared in four episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show (1965-1967) alongside Cugat – sketch comedy and variety programs (like Laugh-In and The Carol Burnett Show), the game show Hollywood Squares, and various Las Vegas casinos.
Charo’s “dumb blonde shtick,” her heavy Spanish accent, and her overt mangling of the English language endured her to millions, as did her usage of the phrase “cuchi-cuchi.” Charo would claim that Cuchi had been the name of a family dog whom her grandmother tended to after he had been involved in a serious accident.
During the 1980s, Charo guest-starred in a plethora of popular primetime series including The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Facts of Life, The Jeffersons, and Marblehead Manor. In 1988, she sang Feliz Navidad on the Pee Wee Playhouse’s Christmas Special.
Charo’s other film credits include The Big Mouth (1967), Tigers by the Tail (1970), and Moon Over Parador (1988), as well as TV episodes of Chico and the Man, and That ’70s Show, and many reality shows like The Surreal Life.
As a musician, Charo is known for dabbling in many different genres as one of the greatest flamenco guitarists ever. In the 1970s, she released several disco albums. For her 1994 flamenco album Guitar Passion, Charo received the Female Pop Album of the Year award at the Billboard International Latin Music Conference, and it was named best female Latin pop album by Billboard.
Almost two years ago, she tragically lost her husband Kjell Rasten, but she still found a way to heal others and inspire. Entertainment Hub would like to wish Charo a very happy birthday.