Biography

A veritable mainstay on mid-'70s U.S. television, Renaissance performer Charo (née María Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza) began life in Murcia, Spain, in 1951 and commenced her foray into show business by learning the guitar at the hands of the legendary Latin jazz maestro Andrés Segovia. Her success in that sphere yielded a lucrative recording contract in Europe and a movie role in the feature Don Juan Tenerio. Her career further expanded when she met, fell in love with, and married the famed bandleader Xavier Cugat -- a man over 50 years her senior. In seemingly no time, Charo joined Cugat's stage act as a dancer, and the ensemble hit nightspots across the U.S. including Caesar's Palace, The Tropicana, and The Flamingo. Charo earned the nickname "The Cuchi-Cuchi Girl" for her trademark exclamation "Cuchi! Cuchi!" By the 1970s, Charo's reputation caught fire and she turned up as a small-screen regular on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (reportedly sitting on his guest couch in excess of 45 times), and on the prime-time situation comedy The Love Boat (1977-1986). Though Boat's producers never officially tapped Charo as a regular cast member, she set a record number of guest spots on that program, and expanded her acting resumé with work on such features as Airport '79: Concorde (1979), Moon Over Parador (1988), and Thumbelina (1994); she also participated in season three of MTV's The Surreal Life (2004), alongside Flavor Flav, Dave Coulier, and others. Charo temporarily retired from touring as a musical act when her son, Shel, reached the age of five. She divorced Cugat in 1978 and married her second husband, Swedish Kjell Rasten, that same year. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi