Maria del Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza is a Spanish-American actress, comedian and at the same time a flamenco guitarist. She is popularly known in her screen name “Charo” and guitar. At the age of 9, she first learned how to play the guitar with the help and training of the renowned guitarist, Andres Segovia. She got married to Xavier Cugat, a bandleader, in 1966. In the late 1960s and 1970’s her face was always seen on American television. She had numerous TV appearances as guest on various series such as “Laugh-In”, “Fantasy Island”, “The Love Boat” and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”.
Charo is known for the funny catch-phrase “cuchi-cuchi”. She is outgoing and a high-spirited individual. Though she is known to have American blood, she is not fluent in English but has a heavy Spanish accent.
She is a highly respected musician for having performed and recorded songs in various styles in the span of fifty years. In 1970s she released series of disco recordings in collaboration with Salsoul Records. Among these recordings, is the famous “Dance a Little Bit Closer” which was released in the year 1977. In 1944, her album “Guitar Passion” was released and won the Female Pop Album of the Year Award during the Billboard International Latin Music Conference. Moreover, she got the Best Female Latin Pop Album given by Billboard.
Charo’s date of birth was a controversy. She was born on January 15, 1951 in Molina de Segura, Region of Murcia, Spain. However, based on the original documents from Spain, her birth date is March 13, 1941. Her father was a lawyer and was believed that during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, he fled to Casablanca. Meanwhile, her mother is a plain housewife and chose to remain in Murcia to raise her kids. She has one sibling named Carmen.
Xavier Cugat, a bandleader, saw the potential of Charo and showed her the entertainment industry. Charo and Cugat got married last August 7, 1966 despite the huge difference on their age gap and the fact that Cugat was alleged to have already been married four times. Cugat was already 66 years old and Charo was only 20 at that time. Their grand wedding took place in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the first wedding held in that place. Later, she confessed that her marriage with her husband was for mere business purpose only and that is to gain her US Citizenship.
Charo migrated along with her mother and aunt to West 257th Street in The Bronx, New York. She performed together with Charo husband and his orchestra in New Year and Las Vegas as well as in Latin America and Europe.
In the late 1960s, she appeared for several on times on The Ed Sullivan Show together with her husband. They also performed together in their show in Las Vegas until she had her own nightclub act.
In 1968, Charo actress finished making her debut film “Tiger by the Tail” together with Tippi Hedren. She managed to have a big break on her career. She frequently appeared as guest on several shows such as Rowan & Martin’ Laugh-In, The Carol Burnett Show, The Hollywood Squares as well as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Charo is one of the versatile performers in the entertainment industry. Aside from that, she is well-known because of her bubbly personality and wit. She is famous in the America for her catchphrase “Cuchi-cuchi” which she usually utters with a wiggle hips. The phrase originally came from a childhood dog pet named Cuchillo.
She rose to fame and seemed to appear in most of American TV shows. She was a guest on the comedy show “Chico and the Man” starring Freddie Prinze. She also had several appearances on the series “The Love Boat”.
Charo released several disco recordings including La Salsa which was released in 1976. On the other hand, her disco record “Dance a Little Bit Closer” was released in 1977 in her album “Cuchi-Cuchi.”
Later Albums and TV Career
Charo is a great performer and musician. In 1944, she released her album “Guitar Passion”. The album managed to earn a spot on the Latin charts. She also appeared in the reality show “The Surreal Life” which earned her a new generation of fans. Her album Charo and Guitar which was released on 2005 earned positive reviews from fans and viewers because of her bubbly personality and strong dedication towards her career.
Charo appeared on numerous TV shows for a number of years. In 2017, she appeared on the 24th season of Dancing With the Stars, as one of the contestants. On that same year, she also got the role as the queen of England for the show Sharknado 5: Global Warming.
Charo was popular not only as an actress and a comedian, but also a great musician. She learned how to play a guitar at a very young age. At the age of 9, she was accepted to Andres Segovia School where her skills on playing guitar was honed and developed. Her dedication in music paid off when she was voted twice as “Best Classical Flamenco Guitarist in the World” by Guitar Player Magazine. In the year 2014, she won the ALMA Ricardo Montalban Lifetime Achievement Award.
She was popular for her catchphrase “Cuchi-Cuchi” which was taken from her childhood pet named Cuchillo. She appeared on various TV shows including her 45 appearance on The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
Charo has been married twice. Her first marriage with Cugat ended when they got divorced in 1978 after she gained her US citizenship. On the same year, Charo and husband Kjell Rasten tied the knot. They have a son named Shel Joseph. In 1982, they decided to move to Hawaiian island of Kauia. She took a break in her career and focused to take good care of her husband and son. She put up a restaurant business which she named Charo’s.
Last February 2019, her husband Rasten, committed suicide at their home in Beverly Hills. Her husband was suffering depression as a side effect of his medication for his acquired rare skin disease. Charo and son felt devastated because of the incident.
Charo today is remembered for being a great performer and singer. She earned a lot of fortune through her numerous TV appearances and impressive career breakthrough in her singing career. Charo’s net worth is around $12 million.