Charo was born on January 15, 1951 Maria del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza in the Murcia region of Spain. Her Father was a lawyer who fled to Casablanca during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, while her Mother stayed behind in Murcia, Spain to raise her children. She went by the stage name of Charo, and she is a Spanish-American actress, comedian, and flamenco guitarist. Her stage presence was flamboyant, and her trademark phrase was “cuchi-cuchi”. Many years ago, I had the fortune of watching her in person at the Holiday House in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. I found her a talented and funny performer when I had also seen her on television.
At age 9, Charo first learned to play the guitar at the Catholic Convent of the sacred Heart. For seven years, Charo studied classical and flamenco guitar with Andres Segovia, who was a Spanish virtuoso guitarist from Linares, Spain. On August 7, 1966, when she was 20 years old, she married the bandleader Xavier Cugat, whom she later divorced. Her first TV appearance was in the mid 1960’s on The Today Show with Johnny Carson. In 1968, she appeared on Laugh In on TV. In the 1970’s, she performed on various television shows, such as, Donny and Marie, Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Captain and Tenille, the John Davidson Show, the Mike Douglas Show, and the Brady Bunch. By 1977, she was headlining shows in Las Vegas with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or Ray Charles. Charo remarried Kjell Rasten in 1978. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, she was raising her son in Hawaii.
Recently, she has appeared on many cruise ships. In April 2011, she appeared on Dancing with the Stars on television. On May 23, 2011, she performed parts of her Las Vegas Show on Disney Magic cruise ship Eastbound, and she received many standing ovations.
- Twice voted “Best Classical Flamenco Guitarist in the World” – Guitar Player Magazine
- Vice President of Muscular Dystrophy Association
- Winner of a Billboard International Latin Music Award
- Winner of Screen Actors Guild Award
- Winner of the prestigious Golden Eagle Award for Outstanding Entertainment of the Year
- Received the Key to the City of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman (03/14/04)
- Honored with the “Charo Week Proclamation” from the City of San Francisco (08/02/05)