Xavier Cugat

Xavier Cugat

Birthday: January 1, 1900
Born Place: Girona, Girona, Catalonia, Spain
Birth Name: Francisco de Asís Javier Cugat Mingall de Bru y Deulofeu

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Born in Spain, Xavier Cugat’s family moved to Havana, Cuba, when he was three. Always musically inclined, he packed up and moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times newspaper during the day and labored to put together a band at night. After a few years of playing smaller clubs in the L.A. area, Cugat finally got his break when he and his band secured a job at the prestigious Coconut Grove nightclub in 1928. His style of music caught on, and Cugat was instrumental in bringing Latin music to the attention of the US public. In the ’30s and ’40s he was nicknamed “The Rumba King” because of his popularization of that Latin dance. In Cugat’s film appearances he usually played himself, even if the character had a name other than Xavier Cugat, and he and his band appeared in several memorable MGM musicals in the ’40s. After suffering a stroke in 1971, Xavier Cugat retired.

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