Xavier Cugat

Remembered for his highly commercial approach to pop music, Xavier Cugat (born Francisco de Asis Javier Cugat Mingall de Cru y Deulofeo) made an even greater mark as one of the pioneers of Latin American dance music. During his eight-decade-long career, Cugat helped to popularize the tango, the cha-cha, the mambo, and the rhumba. His hits included "El Manicero" in the 1930s, "Perfidia" in 1940, and the original recording of "Babalu" in 1944. Members of Cugat's band included Desi Arnaz, Miguelito Valdés, Tito Rodriguez, Luis del Campo, Yma Sumac, and his third wife (of four), Abbe Lane. Cugat used the success of his musical career as a springboard for a movie career that included appearances in such films as Gay Madrid (1930), You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Bathing Beauty (1945), Weekend at the Waldorf (1945), Holiday in Mexico (1946), On an Island With You (1948), A Date With Judy (1948), Chicago Syndicate (1955), and Desire Diabolique (1959).