Francesc d’Asís Xavier Cugat Mingall de Bru i Deulofeu was born in Spain and emigrated to Cuba when when he was five. He was trained as a classical violinist and played with the Orchestra of the Teatro Nacional in Havana before coming to the United States in 1915, where he rode the tango craze to stardom in movies and night clubs. Eventually Cugat and his orchestra became the resident musicians at New York’s Waldorf Astoria.
On August 7, 1966, Cugat took his fifth stab at marriage with Charo, a Spanish guitarist and comic actress. One can only wonder why the 60-year-old Cugat would marry a 20-year-old who could barely speak English. It must have been her flamenco ability. Cugat’s previous wife, the sultry Abbe Lane, couldn’t play a lick.
As a recording artist, Cugat followed dance trends carefully; his tango years were succeeded by takes on the conga, the mambo, the cha-cha-cha, and the twist when each was in fashion. He had major hits with his recordings of “Pefidia” and “Brazil.”
Cugat is the only band leader in the Conductors Who Hold Chihuahuas While Performing Hall of Fame.
“I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve.” ―Xavier Cugat