How’s this for a couple: Francesc d’Asis Xavier Cugat Mingall de Bru i Deulofeu (1 January 1900 – 27 October 1990) and Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza (born January 15, 1945)?
Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. As you might surmise, there is a story as to how they became a couple and how they came to be featured on this blog.
Let’s start with the latter (and shorter) story first. In perusing the NFL draft’s funniest names, I noticed that not only were there two guys named Cornelius up for grabs, there were also two named Xavier. As Xavier seemed to be nearly as good a candidate for funny names fodder as Cornelius, the search was on for a funny-named Xavier in other walks of life. Seek and ye shall find. Buried deep in the archives of my decaying neurons was a blurry vision from an Ed Sullivan Show from long ago. (OK, “Ed Sullivan Show from long ago” is redundant, but you get the picture.) I got it, and the chase was on.
Francese d’ Asis….whatever….was a band leader and cartoonist. He was professionally known by only two of his names, Xavier Cugat. He also had as many wives (5) as he did middle names (not counting the “de” and the “i”). Born in Spain, Cugat moved with his family at an early age to Cuba and then as a teenager to New York City. He was classically trained as a violinist and played in recitals with renowned tenor Enrico Caruso. His career as a bandleader started as a member of a Tango group called The Gigolos***. He later created his own Tango group and eventually landed as leader of the resident orchestra at the Waldorf Astoria. He was one of the early popular performers of Latin music in the U.S and, while all of this was going on, also managed to pen a cartoon for The Los Angeles Times as well as nationally syndicated caricatures. Among his other claims to fame were the discoveries of Dinah Shore, who made her first recordings with Cugat’s band, and one Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza a classical guitarist and comic actress, better known to this day as the “cutchi cutchi” girl, Charo.
Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza, A.K.A. Charo, was born in Spain, in 1931, or 1941, or 1951, or-er-maybe the 1945 date her Wikipedia biography states. That’s another story altogether, but let’s assume that it was some time in the 1940’s. If she was born in 1931, that was some incredible CGI in the GEICO commercial she was recently in (see below). If she was born in 1951, then she would have been 15 years old when she became Cugat’s fifth and final wife in 1966. In the 1970’s she was one of the top headliners in Las Vegas and also made frequent appearances on Hollywood squares as well as TV talk and variety shows of the day. In 1978 she divorced Cugat, ending the reign of one of the greatest funny-named couples of all time.
***Aside to Dave: I’m sorry to make more work for you, buddy, but this post cries out for an article on funny-named bands, not to mention two new additions to Funny Names Theory. I suggest The Charo Corollary (the longer a performer’s real name, the shorter the stage name) and The Xavier Cugat Assumption (Xavier is almost as awesome a name as Cornelius).