Before Shakira shimmied, there was Charo.
Charo celebrates her birthday on March 13th. The year of her birth is unknown but she attested in a court hearing that it’s 1951. Some say her birth year may be as much as nine years earlier.
She was born María del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza (say it fast) in Spain.
In 1966, she married the MUCH older “Rhumba King,” Xavier Cugat who brought her to the United States.
Internationally, Charo is considered to be one of the world’s greatest flamenco guitarists, having studied with virtuoso Andrés Segovia.
But Americans know her best as the voluptuous, hip-shaking, big-blonde-wig-wearing “cuchi-cuchi girl.” That’s fine with Charo who says, “That’s okay because cuchi-cuchi has taken me all the way to the bank.”
Proving she’s not just a pretty face, here’s Charo performing Malagueña in 1977…