Introduction to the DeCastro Sisters
The DeCastro Sisters were a 1950s Cuban-American traditional pop vocal trio consisting of sisters Peggy DeCastro, Babette DeCastro and Cherie DeCastro. Their first single was 1955’s “Teach Me Tonight”, which remained their biggest hit in their career. They also had other hits but their only other Top 20 single was 1955’s “Boom Boom Boomerang.” Babette withdrew from the limelight in 1958, and the sisters’ cousin Olgita DeCastro replaced her. However, upon Peggy’s withdrawal from the group to go solo Babette returned to the fold. Babette retired as Peggy rejoined the group. In the late 1980s the sisters made a comeback, performing mostly in Las Vegas.
Showbiz career — from Cuba to the USA
The sisters’ biggest influence was the Andrews Sisters, and in Cuba they were even considered as the Cuban Andrew Sisters. They started out as a Latin-oriented flamboyant nightclub act, and they became popular especially in Cuba in the 1940s. When they arrived in Miami, Florida in the USA in 1945 they became the protegees of the legendary Portuguese-Brazilian samba singer/dancer and actress Carmen Miranda. They appeared in Miranda’s movie Copacabana. By that time the sisters had Americanized themselves, but still retaining their own exotic identity.
“Teach Me Tonight” — The DeCastro Sisters’ biggest hit
Eventually the girls got signed to the a small country label Abbott. In 1954 the DeCastro Sisters achieved a big hit with “Teach Me Tonight,” written by Gene De Paul and Sammy Cahn. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also became a decent hit on the British chart at #20. Actually, “Teach Me Tonight” was the flip side of the A-side track “It’s Love. However, it was the B-side that got more airplay, thanks to Cleveland radio disc jockey Bill Randall who flipped the record over and preferred “Teach Me Tonight.” The single sold more than five million copies to date.
The DeCastro Sisters followed this up with 1955’s “Boom Boom Boomerang” (written by Lonnie Coleman), their only other Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (at #17). Their other charting singles from 1955-1959 were “Too Late Now” (#74 pop), “Snowbound for Christmas” (#84 pop), “It’s Yours,” (#74 pop), “Who Are They to Say?” (#99 pop) and “Teach Me Tonight Cha Cha” (#76 pop), another De Paul-Cahn composition.
By the time their first single became a big hit, the DeCastro Sisters rose to global popularity. They were now major headliners, and shared bill with British singer and playwright Noel Coward when he appeared on his first Las Vegas performance at the Desert Inn in 1954. It was considered one of Las Vegas’ most headlined event, with lots of A-list stars attending there.
The DeCastro Sisters (with a cousin)
By 1958 Babette retired from performing , and the sisters enlisted the talents of their cousin Olgita DeCastro Marino (born in 1936). By the time their single “Teach Me Tonight Cha Cha” hit the charts for the last time in 1958, it was a sign that their appeal was fading, together with the changing musical climate. Nevertheless, they still recorded and performed together for the time being. Peggy later also left the group to pursue a solo career, but Babette returned to join Cherie and Olga. Peggy came back to the group when Babette once again withdrew. The DeCastro sisters launched a comeback to Las Vegas in 1988. And, despite their withered vocal cords as they had become older, they made this up with boundless amount of onstage flair and style.
All of the group members had passed away — Babette in 1922, Peggy in 2004, Cherie in 2010, and their cousin Olgita in 2000.