Charo, The Eternal 'Cuchi-Cuchi' Girl, Then And Now

Spanish-born bandleader Xavier Cugat (1900 - 1990) looks at his wife and compatriot, the musician and comedian Charo, as they appear on the CBS variety program 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' New York, February 26, 1967. (Getty Images)

Charo became a familiar face and figure to American TV viewers in the '70s, making comedic appearances on Chico & The Man, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, and just about every talk show. But audiences were often unaware what they were seeing -- Charo's broken English and hammy acting overshadowed the fact that she was one of the world's greatest flamenco guitarists. 

Charo was born Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza in Murcia, Spain. She reportedly began playing guitar at the age of nine, and took instruction from the Spanish master Andres Segovia. She grew up to be a performer who was not only a virtuoso, but possessed of an exotic beauty and charisma. It was clear she would be a star, of some sort.