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Cherie DeCastro dies at 87; member of singing trio the DeCastro Sisters

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Cherie DeCastro, the last surviving member of the DeCastro Sisters, the Latin singing trio that was a part of television history in Los Angeles, has died. She was 87.

DeCastro died March 14 of pneumonia at Valley Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas, said Alan Eichler, who was the DeCastros' manager.

The sisters -- Peggy, Babette and Cherie -- rose from a flamboyant nightclub act in Cuba to find success in Las Vegas. They had a hit recording in 1954 with "Teach Me Tonight,” which sold more than 5 million copies. But that came after their debut on Los Angeles television.

In 1947, the DeCastros sang "Babalu" live from Paramount Studios after an introduction from Bob Hope during the first telecast of KTLA.

Cherie Dawn DeCastro was born in New York on Sept. 1, 1922, the second of the three sisters. Her family bought an apartment in New York so she could be born in the United States, Eichler said. The family moved from Cuba to Miami in the early 1940s.

Modeled after the Andrews Sisters, they appeared in the 1947 film “Copacabana” with Carmen Miranda and Groucho Marx and provided many of the bird and animal voices in the 1946 Disney movie "Song of the South."

The DeCastros were a popular Las Vegas act beginning in the 1950s, working with such performers as Noel Coward and George Burns.

They came back to Los Angeles in 1997 for the 50th anniversary of KTLA's start.

Babette died in 1992, Peggy in 2004 and Olgita DeCastro Marino, a cousin who at various times filled in for Babette or Peggy, died in 2000.

Cherie DeCastro is survived by her longtime partner, Trevor Young. She was twice divorced.

keith.thursby@latimes.com

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