20 Feb 1964 Cugat Cites Valentino

Xavier Cugat says that Rudolph Valentino gave him the impetus to change from being a newspaper artist to a band leader.  Cugat started out as a concert violinist.  At 12 years of age, he was concert master in Havana, Cuba and told himself that if he wasn’t the world’s greatest violinist by the time he was 25, he would quit. He wasn’t, and so he did. Cugat  took up cartooning. He was a staff artist on a Los Angeles paper, and one of his assignments was to sketch Valentino. The actor liked Cugat’s cartoon and they became friends. “Valentino danced the tango”, Cugat says, in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. It was a silent movie, and it became popular.  “So he suggested that I start a tango orchestra”.  I  did, and our first engagement was the Coconut Grove. “Valentino came into dance, and so did Joan Crawford. We were an immediate hit. “It got so the establishment had to have mounted policemen outside to hold the crowds back”. That Cugat says, is the genuine truth about how he became a band leader.

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