Xavier Cugat in 1957

Xavier Cugat (1900-1990) was a bandleader who helped increase the popularity of Latin music in the United States. Cugat was known for leading his band with a baton in one hand and a pet chihuahua in the other.

In the 1940s, Cugat was under contract to MGM and appeared with his band as a personality in ten movies, including three Esther Williams vehicles. Several of his recordings and albums involved re-arranging songs to the rhythms of specific popular dances, including the cha-cha.