Xavier Cugat 1940s-50s Radio – Phantom Dancer Show 2 April 2019


Xavier Cugat, ‘King of the Rhumba’, a leading figure in the spread of Latin music, is your feature artist on this week’s Phantom Dancer with Greg Poppleton.

One of his trademark gestures was to hold a chihuahua while he waved his baton in front of his orchestra.

See the full Phantom Dancer play list below of swing and jazz mixed by Greg Poppleton from live 1920s-60s radio below.


This week’s Phantom Dancer will be online right after the 12 March 2SER live mix at 2ser.com.
Hear the show live every Tuesday 12:04-2pm on 107.3 2SER Sydney

Cugat and dog


Xavier Cugat was a Spanish born musician and bandleader. He migrated with his family to Havana, Cuba, at age five in 1905.


Cugat studied classical violin. He was a child prodigy. To help pay for his education he was a violinist at the age of nine in a silent movie theatre. He was first chair violinist for the Teatro Nacional Symphonic Orchestra. He drew caricatures when he wasn’t playing.


Cugat arrived in New York City with his family at age 14. He played violin solos in recitals with Enrico Caruso.

After a stint leading his band in Los Angeles in the 1920s, Cugat took his band to New York for the 1931 opening of the Waldorf–Astoria Hotel.

He then led the Waldorf–Astoria Orchestra for sixteen years, shuttling between New York and Los Angeles for music and film engagements.


Cugat appeared in the films Gay Madrid (1930), You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Week-End at the Waldorf (1945), Bathing Beauty (1944), Holiday in Mexico (1946), A Date with Judy (1948), On an Island with You (1948) and Chicago Syndicate (1955).


In the 1920s Cugat led a band that played at the Cocoanut Grove, Los Angeles.

Charlie Chaplin, a friend of Cugat’s, visited the Grove wanting to dance the tango. So Cugat added tangos to the band’s set list.

Seeing the popularity of the tango at the Grove, Cugat convinced the owner to hire South American dancers to give tango lessons.

When this also became popular, Cugat made the dancers part of his orchestra. In 1928 he Xavier Cugat and His Gigolos were filmed for a 15 minute Vitaphone short.

Over the years, Cugat’s orchestra included such musical stars as Desi Arnaz, Abbe Lane, Yma Sumac and Miguelito Valdés.


Xavier Cugat worked for the Los Angeles Times as a cartoonist. His caricatures were nationally syndicated. His older brother, Francis, was also an artist of some note. He painted the cover art for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.


Cugat owned and operated the Mexican restaurant Casa Cugat, which opened in West Hollywood in the 1940s. The restaurant was frequented by Hollywood celebrities and featured two singing guitarists who would visit each table and play diners’ favourite songs upon request. It closed in 1986.

The restaurant’s exterior and a fanciful depiction of its interior can be found in scenes in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter in which Cugat has a substantial role playing himself. A brief scene revolving around the restaurant can also be seen in the earlier 1943 film The Heat’s On, also starring Cugat as himself.


This week’s Phantom Dancer video of the week is from 1957. Abbe Lane (Cugat’s 4th wife) sings with the orchestra. The Spanish banner on the top right of the screen means ‘Censured under Francoism’. Happy rule breaking!


Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney, Live Stream, Digital Radio
Community Radio Network Show CRN #379

107.3 2SER Tuesday 2 April 2019
After the 2SER 12 noon news, 12:04 – 2:00pm (+10 hours GMT)
National Program:
ArtSoundFM Canberra Sunday 7 – 8pm
2ARM Armidale Friday 12:04 – 1pm
and early morning on 24 other stations.

Set 1
Big Bands on 1944-45 Radio
Open + Swinging on a Star
Eddie Oliver Orchestra (voc) The Oliver Twisters
‘Spotlight Bands’
AFRS Re-broadcast
14 Aug 1944
Denny Beckner Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Blue Network
Norfolk Va
30 Mar 1944
To Each His Own + Close
Boyd Raeburn Orchestra (voc) Ginny Powell
‘One Night Stand’
Club Morocco
Los Angeles
Set 2
12:15 Music at 12:15
Open + My Dog Has Fleas
Dave Rose Orchestra
‘Music at Midday’
Radio Transcription
WOR Mutual NY
10 Aug 1945
Lady of the Evening
Dave Rose Orchestra
‘Music at Midday’
Radio Transcription
WOR Mutual NY
10 Aug 1945
Holiday for Strings
Dave Rose Orchestra
‘Music at Midday’
Radio Transcription
WOR Mutual NY
10 Aug 1945
Fascinating Rhythm
Frean and Rigatti piano duo
‘Music at Midday’
Radio Transcription
WOR Mutual NY
10 Aug 1945
Time On My Hands + Close
Unidentified Orchestra
‘Music at Midday’
Radio Transcription
WOR Mutual NY
10 Aug 1945
Set 3
Yiddish Jazz
Open + The Bridegroom Special
Sam Medoff
‘Yiddish Melodies in Swing’
24 Nov 1940
Zum Gali Gali + Oriental Hora
Barry Sisters (voc) Yiddish Swingtet
‘Bandstand USA’
Cafe Bohemia
WOR Mutual NY
Yidel mitn Fiedel + Close
Barry Sisters
‘Yiddish Melodies in Swing’
18 Feb 1945
Set 4
Xavier Cugat
Open + Amor, Amor + Besume Mucho + Besume Mirame
Xavier Cugat Orchestra (voc) Del Campo
‘One Night Stand’
Trocadero, Hollywood
AFRS Re-broadcast
18 Feb 1945
Say Si, Si
Xavier Cugat Orchestra (voc) Nita Rossa
‘Xavier Cugat Show’
AFRS Re-broadcast
Xavier Cugat Orchestra
‘All-Star Parade of Bands’
Hotel Last Frontier
NBC Las Vegas
30 Nov 1953
Set 5
Jan Savitt 1938-39 Shuffle Rhythm Radio
Quaker City Jazz (theme) + And The Angels Sing
Jan Savitt and his Top Hatters (voc) Bon Bon
Arcadia Restaurant
KYW NBC Red Philadelphia
You Go To My Head
Jan Savitt and his Top Hatters (voc) Carlotta Dale
Radio Transcription
New York City
25 Aug 1938
Good Morning
Jan Savitt and his Top Hatters
Radio Transcription
New York City
Futuristic Shuffle
Jan Savitt and his Top Hatters
Comm Rec
New York City
22 Jul 1938
Set 6
Sarah Vaughan Radio
Love Me or Leave Me
Sarah Vaughan
‘Eddie Condon’s Floor Show’
13 Dec 1948
Mean To Me
Sarah Vaughan
AFRS Hollywood
Feb 1945
I Cover The Waterfront
Sarah Vaughan
‘Eddie Condon’s Floor Show’
13 Dec 1948
Don’t Blame Me
Sarah Vaughan
AFRS Hollywood
Mar 1945
Set 7
Pianist Band Leaders on Radio
Open + If You Can’t Smile and Say Yes
Nat King Cole (voc) NKC
KHJ Mutual-Don Lees Los Angeles
25 Apr 1945
Dont Take Your Love From Me
Claude Thornhill Orchestra (voc) Audrey Morris
‘One Night Stand’
Steel Pier, Atlantic City NJ
AFRS Re-broadcast
24 Aug 1956
Go Away Blues
Duke Ellington Orchestra (voc) Bette Roche
Hurricane Restaurant
29 Aug 1943
I Give You My Word
Fats Waller Rhythm (voc) Kay Perry
Panther Room
Hotel Sherman
WMAQ NBC Red Chicago
3 Dec 1940
Set 8
Mod Radio
The Gentle Art of Love (theme) + Nico’s Tempo
Oscar Pettiford
26 May 1957
The Man I Love
Patti Page (voc) Benny Goodman Sextet
‘One Night Stand’
The Click
AFRS Re-broadcast
3 Jun 1948
A Gem From Tiffany
Shelly Manne Quintet
Basin Street

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