updated 11/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
Rumba king Xavier Cugat, the flamboyant bandleader who popularized Latin rhythms in America and taught a generation to tango, mambo and cha-cha, died of heart failure on Oct. 27 in Barcelona. He was 90. The Spanish-born, Cuban-reared Cugat—"Cugie" to friends—came to fame in the '30s as a bandleader at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and the Cocoanut Grove in L.A. He made a string of movies, many with Esther Williams, such as Neptune's Daughter. In his personal life, Cugat did little to undermine the Latin-lover image he cultivated onstage. His five wives included Dolores Del Rio"s stand-in, Carmen Castillo; Abbe Lane, who sang with his band in the '50s; and the singer Charo (his last), who remembers him fondly. "Every day he'd create something," she says. "People that know him and love him are extremely sad. His soul will live forever."
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