Like many of you, I grew up in the late 70s and early 80s. I was an only child, so I spent a good deal of time watching television with my mother and grandparents, and their tastes weren’t quite what a 10 year old would typically enjoy. Instead of listening to The Rolling Stones or The Beatles on a Friday night, I was watching The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. One of the most memorable, recurring characters on the former was Charo, who appeared on the show eight times. She is what you might call, a “bombshell.”
She was one of the more outlandish personalities of the 1970s, known for her guitar playing, comedy, and dancing. And if you thought Sofia Vergara’s accent is thick, Charo trumps her by a continent! I can only imagine the wow factor that Charo’s performances must have generated the first time someone saw her!
If you don’t know her, take a moment to watch this video.
As a young boy, Charo was an oddity. She seemed completely ridiculous to me. I didn’t understand her fame, and I’m not quite sure I do today. An older friend of mine tells me that even back then she was a curiosity, like a “less revolting Kardashian,” he said. He pointed out that during the 60s and early 70s, a time of great social and cultural shift, television didn't always keep up. Charo probably appealed to slightly older Americans who weren't ready to settle down with Lawrence Welk but weren’t prepared for Led Zeppelin’s sound either.
In addition, my friend reminded me that anything Latin was big, beginning as early as the 1950s when Latin dance music became popular with the mambo, chachacha, and rumba. Its distinctive sounds eventually found their way into the music of José Feliciano and Santana. "Girl from Ipanema" a bossa nova song written by Antônio Carlos Jobim, won the Grammy for best record of the year in 1965. Later, in 1974, Chico and the Man hit American television and had a four-year run. Charo was appealing because she was tied to an earlier, familiar scene, and because she was sexy, playful, and funny.
What you probably don’t know is that Charo starred in an ABC sitcom that presumably never aired in the US but was broadcast on the American Armed Forces Network. She played the wife of a Marine who danced at an off-limits club. Sounds like a winner, right?
If you want to see Charo perform live, I think she has a show in Branson, Missouri as well as Las Vegas. If you go, I’d really like to hear about it!