“Around the world I am known as a great musician. But, in America I am known as the cuchi-cuchi girl. That’s okay because cuchi-cuchi has taken me all the way to the bank.” Charo
Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza, better known in the Latin and Hollywood show business as Charo, is celebrated to millions as a multi-talented singer, dancer, gifted comedienne, actress and award-winning classical guitarist. Since hitting the showbiz in early 1970s, she has contributed her times bringing joy to everyone who sees her or listens to her music. Her trademark phrase, “Cuchi-Cuchi,” comes from her nickname for her dog from childhood. She recalls, “I was 3 years old and I had a dog called Cuchillo, and when Cuchillo was happy he wiggled. When I was very young I copied him and I used to say ‘como Cuchi, como Cuchi’ - like Cuchi, like Cuchi. Everybody thought that it was very cute when I wiggled and say cuchi-cuchi, and they give me cookies and candy. Now, every time I say cuchi-cuchi, people give me money.”
The multi-language performer (she speaks fluent Spanish (native language), English, French, Italian and Japanese) has been named Guitar magazine’s “Best Flamenco Guitarist” twice for wonderful skills. She was once honored with a Distinguished Career Award from Hispanic Exhibitor and Distributor. One of her regrets is that because of her flamboyant stage presence, she has been disregarded as a guitar player.
As for her personal life, Charo is the wife of Kjell Rasten and has one son with him. Formerly, she was married to Spanish musician Xavier Cugat (1966 - 1978).
Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza
Childhood and Family:
Charo was born Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza in Murcia, Spain, on March 13, 1941 (or January 15, 1951). She is the daughter of an attorney who was deported to Casablanca during the Franco tyranny and did not return to Spain until the death of Franco. Her mother was a homemaker.
Charo enrolled at the Catholic convent of the Sacred Heart, where she found a knack on playing the guitar at age 9. Five years later, she won a scholarship to study classical guitar with one of the fathers of modern classical guitar music, Andrés Segovia. When Charo was quite young, she was spotted by renowned Spanish band leader Xavier Cugat, whom she later married on August 7, 1966.
A naturalized citizen of the United States in 1977, Charo now resides in Beverly Hills with her current husband, Kjell Rasten (her manager), whom she wed on August 11, 1978 in Lake Tahoe after her first marriage ended in separation that same year, and their son, Shel, who is currently studying philosophy at the University of Southern California.
Born and raised in Spain, Charo was interested on playing the guitar as a young girl and studied classical guitar under Andres Segovia. Her musical talents soon caught the attention of Spanish band leader Xavier Cugat who brought Charo to the Unites States in early ‘70s.
Charo was then invited to perform in numerous talk shows and frequently appeared in nightclubs. Breaking into acting in 1968 when she landed a supporting role in a drama/thriller film by R.G. Springsteen, Tiger by the Tail, which starred Christopher George, Tippi Hedren and Dean Jagger, she occasionally appeared as a television actress in series such as “Ironside” (1972) and “Fantasy Island” (1981, 1984). She was a regular on “Chico and the Man” from 1977 until 1978, and played the recurring role of April Lopez in the TV sitcom “The Love Boat” from 1977 to 1984. Charo had her next film experience with the adventure The Concorde: Airport ’79 (1979). During that same period, the singer released albums Cuchi-Cuchi (1977), Olé Olé (1978) and Dancing With Charo (1981), as well as a single, “Mommy, Where’s Santa Claus?” in 1978.
Having achieved most of her fame on the nightclub circuit touring such hotspots as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, Charo moved to Hawaii with her new husband after the birth of her son in the early ‘80s and concentrated more on raising her child. She maintained her presence as an actress by appearing in an episode of TV series “Marblehead Manor” (1988) and on the comedy film Moon Over Parador (also 1988), starring Richard Dreyfuss and Raul Julia.
After many years away from her recording studio, Charo made her return by launching her first Latino album Guitar Passion in 1994. In the album, she sings and plays flamenco-style pop songs on her guitar. Although it was not well-received on radio airplay, the album stayed on the Billboard Top 50 album charts for four months. The same year, her voice could also be heard as Mrs. Toad in the animated film Thumbelina.
Charo followed Guitar Passion with Blame It On The Macarena in 1996 and Pleasure in 1997. Her most recent album, Charo and Guitar, was released in 2005.
Currently a resident of Beverly Hills, Charo performs all over the world on tours, community theaters, symphony concerts, Vegas-style extravaganzas, and private corporate functions on a regular basis. She also can be seen every year donating her talents to Jerry Lewis’ MDA Telathon. In 2006, Charo appeared on the VH1 miniseries “I Love the 70s Volume 2”and, together with Little Richard, Burt Bacharach, Don LaFontaine and Peter Graves, appeared in a string of commercials for Geico. Also, she appeared in ads for Sprint and K-Y Jelly.