April 22, 2004 by

Peggy DeCastro

42 comments

Categories: Musicians

Peggy DeCastro was the eldest member of The DeCastro Sisters. The Latin singing group, which consisted of Peggy and her siblings Cherie and Babette, first gained attention in Cuba for their flamboyant nightclub act.

When they moved to Miami in 1945, the sisters became protégées of Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda, who put them in the film, “Copacabana.” The DeCastro Sisters performed their three-part harmony on the first live broadcast of the Los Angeles television station KTLA, following an introduction by Bob Hope. They hit the big time when their 1954 song, “Teach Me Tonight,” sold more than 5 million copies.

Over the years, the ”Cuban Andrews Sisters,” built a library of songs, including “Boom Boom Boomerang,” “Too Late Now,” “Snowbound for Christmas” and “Cowboys Don’t Cry.” They provided many of the bird and animal voices in Walt Disney’s “Song of the South,” and became a popular singing act in Las Vegas nightclubs and hotels.

In 1997, the trio performed on KTLA’s 50th anniversary show, although Babette (who died in 1993) was replaced by their cousin Olgita DeCastro Marino. Three years later, The DeCastro Sisters were inducted into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame as “Las Vegas Living Legends.”

Peggy DeCastro, who was known as the funny member of the group, died on March 6 of lung cancer. She was 82.

42 Responses to Peggy DeCastro

  1. Rock

    Peggy was a wonderful person and friend to me over the past 35 years. She’ll forever be in my heart. Thanks for the wonderful memories and music. I can hear you singing now. with love, Rocky

  2. Kathy

    Peggy was married to my grandfather Producer Bob Lilly until he passed away. She had my 2 uncles. She was the coolest lady ever ! She had that wonderful stage presense ,animation and sense of humor in real life as she did on stage! I remember she took acting lessons at Lee Strasburg’s, then landed a small part on Chico and the Man They ended up making the part bigger because of her! She was definately in her element when preforming!

  3. Kathy

    I am looking for Peggys son Gene Lilley. He is my Uncle. Your father Bob was my grandfather He was married to the late great Peggy DeCastro .

  4. Gene Lilley

    Thank You all for the kind words.
    Peggy DeCasto, was a true angel. I knew
    growing up that she was unlike anyone else.
    she had more personality and warmth than anybody
    I have ever seen. When you were with her, you
    knew that you were in the presents of a saint.
    ( A loco saint, that is !!)
    Thank you MOM. God Bless You.
    Love You
    Gene Lilley

  5. Mike

    Gene,
    My condolences to you and your family on the passing of your mother. I just learned of this. I remember Peggy well when we lived in Continental Park, ’64-’66. She was a regular mom by day, and at night sometimes we would see her getting ready for a performance, her sister and cousin would drop by and I always knew we were in the presence of someone special. In fact, when your brother, Chris, John and I were in a band I would drove your Mom’s ’56 Studebaker Golden Hawk to gigs from time to time since I was the first with a driver’s license……Hard to believe that was 40 years ago! Please give your brother my warmest regards and hopefully we can reconnect soon…I’m still in touch with Chris…lots to catch up on…
    Mike

  6. Luke Davis

    Peggy DeCastro was my grandmother as well. Actually my step-grandmother, but the only one I ever knew. She married my cowboy grandfather John Carricaburu. I was always so proud to introduce her to everyone and anyone. She claimed until her dying day that if I ever got famous, it was her doing. I have been persuing acting in Hollywood and am living in Nashville Tennessee recording country music, so…thanks Granny Peg. You inspire all that I do. I think of you and thank God for you daily. I sure do miss you and how you made me laugh.
    Love Ya, Lucas Bucas…(Luke)

  7. Alan Pearman

    My teenage years were the De Castro years – I blame Skip Martin for my induction into the sounds which stayed with me – even recording Teach Me Tonight Cha-Cha (based on the later Paramount single) on an Organ CD I made in the 90’s. But for me the greatest sound of Christmas has always been the superb voice/orchestral mix on ‘Snowbound’ – I’ve been teaching my 12/13 year old choir the song for this year’s (2004) Christmas concert – same arrangement and using the original recording for their phrasing – and they love it. Such music may lose its originators but it will remain with millions like me as long as the memory stays alive. Peggy may have passed away but her voice and work with the rest of the family will live on long after I and all those reading this have left this life – I know of no greater tribute to an artist than that.

  8. Ken Jennings

    I played drums with the DeCastro Sisters at the Stardust in the early 60s. Peggy, Cheri, and Olgita knew how to entertain. Showmanship, good musical arrangements, and spontaneity was their trademark. The DeCastro’s were a tradition in Las Vegas and that form of lounge entertainment, that they exemplified, is sorely missed. I learned a lot from these entertaining pros and I personally will miss Peggy and Olgita dearly.

  9. Jim Carricaburu

    Aunt Peggy was married to my uncle Dr., John Carricaburu. I lived with them for two years while attending school in Santa Barbara. Over the past 25 years I never missed one of the De Castros shows where ever they were performing. They were amazing!!! Peggy called me their greatest fan and gave me an award with a plaque that said “thank you, your three Aunties love you.” Peggy’s last performance was in Las
    Vegas, just two weeks before she died. It was reported that she sang from her wheelchair, the truth is that she said “no one is going to see me in that damn thing” and she walked on stage and sang her standard “Old Man Time” She got a standing O. Peggy always lived for tommorrow, and always thought the best was yet to come. She was a giver to a fault. She had a deep faith in God and I know she is resting in the arms of our Lord. Thanks to her music, and videos of her shows I will continue to have her and her music to keep me entertained the rest of my days. God Bless you Auntie Peg, I sure miss you. Jimmy

  10. Cletus

    Hi, I have a rather unusual question I hope someone can answer for me. I had relatives that lived in a home once owned by the DeCastro sisters. All I remember was that it was in Los Angeles somewhere(this would be a minimum of 40 years ago and probably longer). By any chance does anyone out there know where the DeCastro sisters lived when they were in LA? I dont’ need to know the exact address(although that would be helpful). I sure would appreciate it. 🙂
    Thanks! 🙂

  11. Brian Murphy

    As a young sailor in the 50s, I thought the Decastro Sisters were magnificent singers with wonderful harmony, not to mention they were beautiful. I have tried for years to find a video of their performances, with no success. I am saddened to hear of the passing of Olgita and Peggy. My prayers are with them and their families.
    Brian murphy
    Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894

  12. Suzanne Patterson

    My father was Bob Lilley who was married to Peggy after he and my mother divorced when I was very young. He is also the father of my sister Judy.
    I have 2 children and they both thought Peggy was amazing. My son loved for her to come around when we lived in CA because Peggy had long fingernails and she would scratch his back for long periods of time. He still remembers that. My daughter loved being around them too as it was always alot of fun. Peggy always made us laugh. I had some of her records when a very young teen before I even knew Bob was married to her.
    I only saw her perform once and that was in Palm Springs. What a treat that was. Having heard her records then seeing her in person and knowing her.
    A funny funny, neat lady.

  13. Steve Pinkston

    I played bass in Peggy’s touring band in the mid-70s. I remember her humor and warmth, and her terrific showmanship.
    One funny memory I have of Peggy — and I think it’s accurate — was that she used to keep her watch set ahead an hour so as not to be late for appointments. Of course, she knew it was set an hour ahead, and factored that in, so she was late just as often!

  14. April Lilley

    she was my grandmother. i would have to say she was just about one of my fav. people ever. i am so blessed to have had her as my grandmother. on that note i have 2 great grandmothers. they where best friends. talked everyday. i always loved going to my grandmothers house at anytime. during the holidays… oh man.. was it amazing times. out family always had such a great time with her. i would always love staying up late when i was little to watch her make her pasta… everytime someone would come over.. they would always go to the kitchen to get some, and i always tried to have her tell me how she made it… but it was her little secret. haha i miss her so much i think about her all the time. it was about one of the hardest times that i had to go through when she passed. all i have now is the memories or her in my heart to live by. to all my family she is in a great place.
    I LOVE YOU GRANDMA

  15. mike mccormick

    Ten years or so ago I got on this autograph kick and sent my childhood 78 of “If I Ever Fall in Love” to the Sisters D. for a signing. The flip side, “Cuckoo in the Clock,” which I used to think was a song about learning to tell time, transports me back to growing up in the idyllic ’50s with each listening. Imagine the adrenalin rush when it was returned with signatures of Peggy, Cherie and Olgita on each label, and an added bonus was a nice personal letter and Peggy’s phone number! So I called out to the west coast all nervous-like one evening, and we talked for about twenty minutes. It was so surreal and mind-boggling to think that here forty years later I was actually carrying on a phone conversation with the lady who sang “I guess you found it’s true … you just can’t have your cake and eat it too … ” A golden memory I’ll never forget. Glad to see their material out on CD finally. Thanks for the great music and memories.

  16. Janet Carricaburu Bailey

    Peggy married my father after my mother died of cancer in 1979. Though my heart was broken at the loss of my mother, Peggy came into our lives and, though very different from my mother, was a wonderful, talented, enteraining and loving woman. She made my dad laugh again. I still have the fishing tackle box she gave me for my make up (which I didn’t wear any at the time) and specials brushes she shaped for me to apply it. Now that I am in my 50s, those little tools are coming in handy to draw in the loss of eye brows and such. I think of her every time I use it. She lived an exciting life and was full of joy. I listen to her music and she lives on in my heart.

  17. Veronica Gepp (UK)

    Peggy was my best friend’s mother in law and the weekends I spent at her home in Santa Barbara were some of the happiest memories I have of my time living in USA. She was a remarkable lady and had more energy than people half her age. I am very grateful that I knew her and will never forget her.

  18. William Byerly

    I have had no personal contact with the DeCastro Sisters. However, their music was so personal to me when the love of my life and I were in High School together during the 50’s. My life and my memories would not be as wonderful without them. They had the best sound as a vocal group. THAT IS A FACT! I hope some day those vidio tapes of their performances will be released.
    Thank You A Millon Times Girls!!!!!
    A Fan, Bill

  19. JOHN HEMMER

    I WA A MEMBER OF THE FOUR VOICES ON COLUMBIA RECORDS AND IMUST SAY THE DECASTRO SISTERS WERE THE BEST. NEVER MET THEM LADIES BUT AS A GROUP SINGER I ENVIED THIER HARMONIES. SAW THE GROUP LAST NIGHT ON PBS SHOW. WHO WAS THE THIRD LADY WITH CHERIE AND BABETTE?
    JOHN A REALLY BIG FAN

  20. David

    I saw the PBS program that John Hemmer mentioned, and the DeCastro Sisters looked and sounded fantastic! I too wondered who the third lady was who was singing with the group. Also, does anyone know when the program was filmed?

  21. Jim C.

    To answer John Hemmer and Davids questions, Auntie Cherie is the last of the original De Castro Sisters. She was in the middle on the PBS concert special that was filmed 10 20 05 in Thousand Oaks CA. The “New De Castro’s are Lois, who was on the left, and Maggie, who was on the right.

  22. Myrta Tasker

    So Glad to read something about the De Castro Sisters. After watching the PBS special many times was curious about what happened to this wonderful singing group. As a latin who loves harmony am so proud of them. They are great!
    Applauso….MTasker, Los Angeles

  23. Peter Terrace

    I played drums for the Sisters in 1948 at the Paramount Theater in NYC. Lovely voices and wonderful personality. My she rest in peace.

  24. Gordie Little

    11/06/06
    Sometime during my college years, I attended a de Castro Sisters concert, probably on Long Island. Cheri was kind enough to give mer her autograph and I just came across it today after it languished in a shed behind my garage for several decades.
    What a treasure! It says simply “Sincerely, Cherie de Castro of the de Castro Sisters?
    Throughout a 36-year career in radio, I played their music hundreds of times as my tiny effort at keeping the de Castro spark alive.
    Thanks for the memories.
    Gordie Little
    PO Box 92
    MOrrisonville, NY 12962
    (518)563-4108
    gordandk@aol.com

  25. Anthony Ward

    I’m a really big fan of the De Castro Sisters. Back in 1949 or 1950 my Late Grand Uncle Lonnie Coleman wrote the Song Boom Boom Boomerang. Then in 1954 or 55 he sold the total Copyrights of the song for $50. Tom Tall & Ginny Wright did a version of Boom Boom Boomerang, but I’ve never heard it. When I heard that the De Castro Sisters recorded it. I started buying all there records & Cd’s. I wish I had all there Music Videos & Nostalgic films on DVD they’re wonderful.

  26. Bob Burgener

    Peggy was the greatest, she was always on no matter what. I was her guitarist in 1973, The Decastro Sisters and 4 Easy Pieces, we had a great time working with her.

  27. Gordie Little

    I just got off the phone with Cherie from her home in Vegas. She is just as charming today as she was when she sang her first note. She is still performing, feels grat and is thrilled that so many friends and fans remember and love her.
    Getting her phone call tonight made my Christmas even more special than is was already.
    Thanks to Cherie from my wife Kaye and me for all she has done for the arts in otherwise chaotic world.

  28. Tommy White

    In 1964 Peggy and Bob Lilley lived in Dallas – I played in a band with Bobby jr. I got to spend the summer with them when they moved to Vegas. When you are 14 years old that is quite an experience. They wanted me to stay as I had become like another son to them. But I was too young to make that leap. We spent every day watching the gals(less Babbette) rehearse at Cherie’s home. I learned alot about the music business from that. Peggy had the greatest sense of humour. I was really saddened to learn of her death and of my best friend Bobby. I wish I had stayed in touch. If Gene or April Lilley would care to share anything about Bobby I would love to hear from them.

  29. Sunny Murchison

    Several evenings ago I happened to watch a concert on KCET honoring music of the 50’s. The DeCastro Sisters performed. I remembered their wonderful music, their distinct sound! How beautiful the DeCastro Sisters were, too.
    God bless them.
    Sunny Murchison
    Pasadena, California

  30. Sherry and Alex Leslie

    We were very good friends with Peggy, Cherie, and Olgita and Frankie when they performed at the Nevada Lodge at Lake Tahoe. We Leslie and Sherry) would love to hear from Cherie again if she would like to contact us or allow us to call her. If anyone of her relatives have any contact with her please ask. We still have all the pictures Sherry took at their performances at Tahoe. Please contact her and let her know our email address and ask if we could call her. We were so close

  31. Sherry & Alex Leslie

    Alex and I desperately want to contact Cherie again. When Cherie, Peggy, Olgita and Frankie were performing at Lake Tahoe in the 80’s, Alex and I became very good friends with Cherie and Frankie. They came to our house for dinner and we were planning a wonderful Christmas dinner with all of them at our house, which consisted of Leg of Pork and all the trimmings. We had a terrible blizzard and Cherie’s husband got stuck on Donner Summit with a bowl of chili and the roads to our house were snowed in so no one could get in or out. We had a dinner for 8 on the table and no one could get there!!! tee hee..we did spend New Year’s Eve with Cherie and her husband in her room while they were all getting ready for their performance. It was a wonderful night. I took many pictures of them when they were performing at the Nevada Lodge, multiple times, and would love to talk to Cherie again. We were saddened to find out that Peggy passed away. We now live in Spokane and would love it if someone would ask Cherie to contact us, or if we can contact her for old time sake. Hope and pray she will.
    Sherry and Alex Leslie
    sherry3911@comcast.net

  32. Paty Lombard

    Oh to lose Peggy! So many years ago (decades ago!) I toured with Peggy as one of her “sisters.” We were all so young. Gene was a kid (I would love to see him now!) and we played the US, Vietnam, Guam, the Playboy Circuit…we had a ball. Peggy was always the dynamo … front and center and adorable and a brilliant showstopper. I was talking about her tonight and thought I would “google” to find out where she was now and how to get in touch with her. So very sad to learn of her death. And Bob’s (he served as our manager and tour guide!) It was a wonderful, special time in my life and I will always remember her with great affection and respect. Also … she taught me how to work a crowd! I can still remember my harmony part on “Teach Me Tonight.” Peggy dear Peggy … I know you are singing and smiling somewhere! xxxooo and thanks always to my teacher.

  33. v.degulis

    my first wife and I danced,cried and laughed to the music of the wonderful Decastro sisters…so many great memories of ‘teach me tonight’ -thank you for such great music !

  34. Jeff M.

    I have been going thru my grandfathers old memorablia and i find a Castro Sisters publicity card autographed to him from the de Castro Sisters ( grandpa was nightclub Magician ) ..cool to see who the ladies were

  35. Maria Paz de Castro

    hi, I’m Maria Paz de Castro, from Argentina.
    I was looking for my name on the web and suddenly i saw “the de Castro sisters”. I started to check what was that all about and I found a lot of pictures and songs, beautiful songs. I don’t know, I felt kind of wared ’cause they have my last name, so…any information that you can give me I’ll take it, sorry for the way I write. thanks.

  36. Douglas McPueth

    We will sorely miss the vivaceous de CAstro Sisters. I can not believe the Teach Me Tonight and The 50s-Great Ladies of Rock and Roll cds missed the 1954 Big Hit Cha Cha version of Teach Me Tonight(only the slow Big Band version). These talented gals deserve better! The German company which produced the big cd has already heard about their mistake. Doesn’t anyone else have passion for life in their blood?! We pay tribute to a great musical family and any second generation following in their footsteps. Viva de Castro music! Baila! Canta! Is the Cha Cha version on any available cd?? I am searching for the best of the past in music.
    Douglas McPueth
    dmcpueth@cybertrails.com
    POB 27437
    Tempe, AZ USA 85285

  37. Lilian Salvador Roca Hardy

    I was lucky to meet the Castro Sisters when I was a child and we were staying at the same hotel in Miami Beach, I went with them everywhere, they even obtained a special permit to attend their act at a night club! I am so sorry to hear that Peggy and Cherie have died, what happened to Babette? Please someone let me know, I remember them with love as well as their Father that traveled with them.

  38. Jamie Phillips

    My grandfather was married to Peggy for over twenty years. When I was in college, I lived with them for two years. She was the sweetest person with the most giving heart. I miss her daily.

  39. Josephine Powell

    I first met the sisters in Las Vegas in 1960 when I was in the chorus of a show. I went to the New Frontier Hotel where they were performing. I was impressed and delighted when they came into my life at Lake Tahoe when Peggy did a solo act at Harvey’s Wagon Wheel on the south shore. Decades later, when I decided to write the bio of Tito Puente I interviewed them time and time again for the book. Through their own era I was able to recreate the scenes of those times. I will miss both Cherie and Peggy. Their conductor was my significant other and when they resumed their career I watched from backstage. It was a thrill.

  40. Ben Han

    Hello, I’m trying to get in touch with Mr. Gene Lilley. I’m doing research on the DeCastro Sisters. If anyone has his contact info, please let me know.
    Thank you.
    Ben

  41. jimmy c

    Hi April I have a great picture of you and your dad and peggy I would like to give to you if you give me your mailing address I will send it to you. jimmy c

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *