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 Xavier Cugat  (1900 - 1990)

About: Xavier Cugat


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Lived/Active: California / Spain/Cuba      Known for: genre, newspaper caricaturist

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BIOGRAPHY for Xavier Cugat
1900 (Barcelona, Spain)
1990 (Barcelona, Spain)

California / Spain/Cuba

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genre, newspaper caricaturist

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Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:
A caricaturist and painter, Xavier Cugat was born near Barcelona, Spain on Jan. 1, 1900.  At age four, Cugat was taken to Cuba where his parents had decamped to escape political persecution.  A musical prodigy, at age 12 he was a violinist with the Havana Symphony.

As an assistant concert artist, he started drawing at age 16 as a hobby while on tour with the great Enrico Caruso.  Caruso amused himself while touring by making caricatures, and Cugat soon followed suit.

Cugat arrived in Los Angeles in the 1920s.  Unable to find work as a classical musician, he drew caricatures of movie stars for the Los Angeles Times.  The actor Valentino had to dance a tango in his next film and asked Cugat to put together a band to accompany him.  Originally called "The Gigolos," after their initial booking at the Coconut Grove, the band went on to become one of the most famous Latin dance bands in the world.

His 16 year reign over the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NYC was unprecedented.  Called the "King of the Rumbas, Cugat died in his native city on Oct. 28, 1990.  He authored two books, I, Cugat and My Wives.

llsley Gallery (LA), 1932;
De Young Museum, 1943 (self-portrait);
San Diego Art Guild, 1945.
San Francisco Examiner, 10-28-1990 (obit).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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