Strange Marriage: Charo & Xavier Cugat

Xavier Cugat, in many ways the foil to Desi Arnaz, was the sort of cliche Don Juan to have been married five times. His fifth–and most objectively strange–marriage was to 70s icon Charo, notorious for her thick accent being un-understandable to Americans. Cugat, who “discovered” (because every famous woman needs a Svengali, right?) Charo in her youth, soon after married her at the age of 60, when she was 20. The year was 1966, a far more embracing time for scandalous nuptials.

May-December
May-December
Apart from the retch-inducing age difference, the other unusual aspect of the Cugat-Charo alliance was that they were the first to have their marriage performed at Caesars Palace in Vegas. A very prophetic location indeed. Once the betrothal was officially sanctioned, Charo was allowed to live in the United States, where she moved in with her mother in the Bronx and frequently performed with Cugat’s band on the East and West Coasts. Charo would later state that the marriage was essentially a business deal.
Looking less than into it
Looking less than into it
It was thus no coincidence that the same year she became a naturalized citizen of the U.S., in 1977, she also filed for divorce from Cugat. The petition was granted in 1978, and Charo re-married almost immediately after, proving, once again, that if you can’t marry for love, you should marry for money or power–which is exactly what her end game was with Cugat. So maybe their marriage wasn’t so strange, after all. Just another example of capitalizing on mutually beneficial opportunity in show business.

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