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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Peggy DeCastro born 24 January 1921

Peggy DeCastro (b.24, Jan 1921 - 6, March 2004) was the lead singer of the female-sister group DeCastro Sisters. Originally they consisted of Peggy DeCastro (1921–2004), Cherie DeCastro (1922–2010) and Babette DeCastro (1925–1992). When Babette retired in 1958, a cousin, Olgita DeCastro Marino (1931–2000) replaced her and when Peggy later left the group to go solo, Babette re-joined Cherie and Olgita. Peggy eventually returned and Babette once more retired.

The three original DeCastro Sisters—Peggy, Cherie and
were raised in Havana in a family mansion that was seized by Fidel Castro during the Cuban revolution and is now used as the Chinese Embassy. Their mother, Babette Buchanan, was an Chicago-born Ziegfeld Follies showgirl who married the wealthy Cuban aristocrat Juan Fernandez de Castro, owner of a large sugar plantation in the Dominican Republic, where first daughter Peggy was born. De Castro later developed radio and television in Cuba with David Sarnoff, who was often a guest at their home and was also in charge of a planned project under the Batista regime to build a canal through Cuba, which never materialized.

The family moved to New York, where Cherie was born, then to Havana, Cuba, where Babette was born and all three girls were raised. In one of their first public performances as children, they wore white dresses, carried U.S. flags and sang the U.S. National Anthem. They also performed at parties and church socials, singing American ballads.

As teenagers, they imitated the Andrews Sisters and eventually became known as the Andrews Sisters of Cuba. Soon they were playing in Cuban nightclubs billed as the Fernandez-DeCastro Sisters. They came to the United States in 1945 for a tour that began in Miami, went through New York's Radio City Music Hall and finished in California, where they were discovered in a small nightclub called the Club Brazil by famed actress and singer Carmen Miranda. Miranda gave the sisters small roles in her films "Dynamite Wrapped in Glamour" and "Copacabana." The trio's hit recording got them gigs in Las Vegas showrooms.

As their careers took off, their act became more flamboyant and they worked across the country including the Palladium in Hollywood, where they sang with Tito Puente’s band and made their first recordings. In 1946, they provided several of the bird and animal voices for Walt Disney’s animated "Song of the South", including the Oscar-winning "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah".

They appeared on screen with Carmen Miranda and Groucho Marx in the 1947 film Copacabana, the same year that they joined Bob Hope and Cecil B. DeMille on the live premiere broadcast special launching KTLA in Los Angeles, the very first telecast west of the Mississippi. The sisters were introduced by Hope and sang “Babalu,” which was filmed by a Paramount newsreel cameraman and is the only surviving footage of the original three-hour show.

The DeCastro Sisters had just one hit song, the 1955 Sammy Kahn-penned standard "Teach Me Tonight," (#2 in 1955) which has been covered by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr. and Al Jarreau, among others. They also had minor hits with "Boom Boom Boomerang" and "It's Yours". Their recording career actually spanned about 10 years, from the early 50's to about 1962.

Over the years they performed with many industry giants, including Bob Hope and George Burns. In recent years the DeCastro Sisters featured Peggy, Cherie and Lois Denny, who is not related to the sisters but has been a longtime replacement member.

The DeCastro Sisters appeared on most major TV shows including The Ed Sullivan Show and The Perry Como Show. They also made numerous film shorts including Universal's "Swingin’ and Singin’" with Maynard Ferguson and Riot in Rhythm with Harry James. At various times Peggy and Babette took leave from the act and were replaced by a cousin Olgita, so Cherie was the only sister who was part of every appearance and recording that the group ever made. 

In 1997, they were part of KTLA's 50th anniversary broadcast in Los Angeles and headlined at the Hollywood Roosevelt's Cinegrill. Three years later, they were inducted in the Casino Legends Hall of Fame as “Las Vegas Living Legends.“ Cherie continued to perform until shortly before her illness and sang "Teach Me Tonight" on the 2006 PBS special, "Moments To Remember: My Music", which is still periodically shown and is out on DVD.
The original trio included Peggy, Cherie and sister Babette. When Babette left the group to raise a family, she was replaced by cousin Olgita DeCastro. Babette died of cancer in 1992. Olgita died of asthma on February 14, 2000. Peggy retired once from the trio in 1996 when her second husband, California veterinarian John Carricaburu, became ill. He died two years ago. Her first husband, longtime group manager Bob Lilley, also preceded her in death. After Carricaburu died, Cherie traveled to Peggy's then-home in Northern California and successfully got her back into show business. Peggy died at her home in Las Vegas from lung cancer on March 6, 2004 in Las Vegas. Cherie, the only sister to appear on every recording, film, TV and stage appearance, died of pneumonia on March 14, 2010. (Info edited from various sources, mainly Wikipedia)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For The De Castro Sisters – Teach Me Tonight go here:
1 It's Love
2 Boom Boom Boomerang
3 To Say You're Mine
4 The Wedding Song
5 If I Ever Fall In Love
6 I'm Bewildered
7 Teach Me Tonight
8 Give Me Time
9 Too Late Now
10 Cry Baby Blues
11 Let Your Love Walk In
12 Cuckoo In the Clock
13 Cuban Love Song
14 I Can't Escape From You
15 Rockin' and Rollin' in Hawaii
16 No One to Blame But You
17 Cowboys Don't Cry
18 It's Yours
19 I Never Meant to Hurt You
20 I Hear a Melody
21 Don't Call Me Sweetie
22 Flowers on the Hillside
23 I Know Plenty
24 Blue and Broken-Hearted
25 Where Have You Been My Love
26 That Little Word Called Love
27 Old Timer's Tune
28 Biddle-Dee Bop
29 What a Relief (Hoop Ah Hoop Ah, Bah Dah Dah)
30 You Take Care of Me (I'll Take Care of You)
31 My Sweetheart Left Me Behind