Born Maria del Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza Rasten on March 13, 1941 in Murcia, Spain, Charo
is a well-rounded performer; she sings, dances, acts, plays the guitar, and is also known for being a flamboyant comedienne. As a child, she studied classical and flamenco guitar in Spain. After moving to the United States during the reign of dictator Francisco Franco, she first got television exposure via the NBC sketch comedy show Laugh In in 1968, where her less than fluent English became the subject of comedic sketches. By 1971, however, Charo was headlining shows in Las Vegas
and allegedly receiving the same pay as singers Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles. She had become very visible in national television since then, appearing several times in The Love Boat, Donny and Marie, and The Mike Douglas Show, among others.
Such overexposure, however, may have done her more harm done good, critics say, as her popularity dropped even though more and more people knew her. As a result, during the late 1980s, she moved to Hawaii and opted to perform in her own dinner theater while raising her sons.
In 2004, Charo was cast in VH1 show The Surreal Life
season 3. The show features celebrities who are said to be past their primes and puts them in a Hollywood Hills mansion for two weeks. As if this is not enough, unforgiving cameras also follow their every move. In this season, Charo had to face challenges, such as taking surfing lessons and recording a group single. Perhaps due to pressure, she experienced an early meltdown in the one of the first episodes. Later on, the whole cast drove to San Diego to see Charo perform in a concert. She wowed them with her performance. She also clashed with singer Jordan Knight
during the recording session.
(Photo courtesy of VH1)