Sisters Peggy, Cherie, and Babette DeCastro were the daughters of a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl from Chicago and Juan Fernandez de Castro, a wealthy plantation owner. They grew up in a mansion in Havana that Fidel Castro seized (the mansion is houses the Chinese embassy). They began singing in clubs in Havana. The trio moved to Miami in 1942 and were soon singing at the Copacabana in New York. They also began performing in Hollywood.
When Disney produced The Song Of The South in 1947, the trio provided many of the animal and bird sounds on the soundtrack, including the chirping in Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. Desi Arnaz popularized the song Babalú in 1946, and the sisters performed the song live on a Bob Hope television special the next year.
The DeCastro Sisters continued to appear on television and in filmed shorts and finally began recording hits in the early fifties.
In 1954, the Abbott Records label recorded the group singing It’s Love. They needed a B-side for the record, and the bass player on the session suggested they cover Teach Me Tonight. Other releases of that song in 1954 had included a single by Jo Stafford that reached #15 on the Hot 100 and a version by Dinah Washington that reached #23 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the R&B chart.
The label released the single and promoted It’s Love without getting much airplay. Bill Randall, a disc Jockey in Cleveland, began playing the B-side and other disc jockeys quickly followed suit. Their version of Teach Me Tonight sold over five million copies and peaked at #2 on the Hot 100.
The group followed that success with several more singles. Their 1955 recording of Boom Boom Boomerang had the best results, reaching #15 on the Hot 100. The deep bass voice on the record is Thurl Ravenscroft, who also was the original voice for Tony the Tiger.
The trio also enjoyed clowning around when they sang, as is clear in the way they sang and made faces while performing their version of Heartbreak Hotel.
Babette retired from the group in 1958 and a cousin, Olgita DeCastro Marino, took her place.
In 1959, the trio appeared at the Sahara in Las Vegas at the debut of Bobby Darin. They suggested that Bobby record Mack The Knife (which became his biggest hit record).
Peggy left the group to pursue a solo career, and Babette briefly rejoined the trio
until Peggy returned. They continued performing until at least 2004.
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