Keep dancing for a happy marriage

Xavier Cugat and Abbe Lane appear on Chelsea at Nine

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 11 October 1959

SONG-WRITERS have been making music and romance synonymous for thousands of years. And three people in Granada’s Chelsea at Nine week provide excellent evidence that the two really go together.

Xavier Cugat and Abbe Lane have happily married for seven years. Tony Martin — here on his own while his wife, Cyd Charisse, rehearses for a new spectacular in America — is heading for his 12th wedding anniversary.

“You can say,” Xavier Cugat agreed, “that rhythm was responsible for our romance. I was looking for a vocalist and I saw Abbe in a Broadway show. She was everything I had in mind. That was nine ago and we have been together ever since”

Xavier Cugat and Abbe Lane
Their advice: Keep dancing

Abbe was not quite 17 at the time, and they were married two years later. More than 30 years difference in their ages has not mattered in the least.

“The trouble with so many married couples,” said Abbe, “is that they go dancing before marriage, but they don’t dance together after marriage. I believe they ought to go on the dance floor as much as they can. Cugie and I are always seeking out places where we can dance together and forget about everything else.

“You can’t quarrel when you’re dancing. And if you have been out of tune, you soon find yourself in harmony again.”

Cugie chuckled. “When I was at the Waldorf in New York recently,” he said, “someone said my music must have been responsible for a lot of marriages — but one fellow added that it was also responsible for a lot of alimony!”

Barcelona-born Cugat and American-Spanish Abbe Lane might not quite add up to A to Z of show business, but at any rate they represent from A (for Abbe) to X (for Xavier), and that’s quite a lot. Theirs is an ideal combination, with Cugat providing the music and his wife providing the visual and vocal appeal.

The last time Cugie worked in this country was as a violinist with the Vincent Lopez orchestra at the old Kit-Kat Club in London, in the early 1930’s.

“I was learning rhythm with one or two bands before setting up on my own,” he explained. “Up to then, I was a classical musician.”

When he did strike out, he set a new pattern in dancing by forming the first big-time dancing orchestra in America and popularising Latin-American music.

He would have been back to London more often — but for our quarantine laws. His love of chihuahua dogs is well-known.

When I saw them, both he and Abbe were anxious to get back to Paris, where they left their chihuahua, Pasquilina, and their French poodle, Susie. “We hate to go anywhere without them,” Abbe said.

The association of Cugat and chihuahuas began when he made his first film, Holiday in Mexico, and carried one around with him.

“The chihuahua received far more fan mail than I did,” he said. “Since then, I have had one with me in all my 14 films, and the same thing has happened every time.”

Tony Martin, the singer who married the dancer, is always more willing to talk about his wife and two sons than about anything else.

Tony Martin
Tony Martin

He and Cyd Charisse, of course, work independently, “but TV is bringing us together,” he told me. “We are going to co-star for the first time in a spectacular.”

Tony has been a singing star for nearly 25 years — with the accent on the word “singing,” using a good, straight, no-gimmick voice.

“A fellow asked me for my advice on how to keep going as long as I have,” he said. “I told him: ‘Sing good, make a series of come-backs, and don’t let people down.’

“Those of us who have managed to stay at the top for a long time — Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Frankie Laine — have two things in common. We’re singers, and we always try to give a good show.

“Good singing will always outlast freak performances. When I think back on the equivalents of today’s rock n’ rollers 20 years ago, I can’t even remember their names. They’ve disappeared completely.

“I might never have caused quite such delirious fan-worship, but I am earning more today than at any time in my life.”

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