“¡Azúcar!” (“Sugar!”) 

The fabulous and famous Latina singer, Celia Cruz, began to light the world on October 21, 1924, with her birth in Havana, Cuba.  Cruz started her career singing in cabarets in Havana, and got her big break in 1950 as the lead singer for La Sonora Matancera. The group went on tour in 1959, the year of the Cuban Revolution, and Cruz never returned home.  In New York, she lit up the salsa scene.  Cruz was a charismatic presence on stage, wearing glamorous and spectacular dresses, heels and wigs and calling out her signature exclamation, “¡Azúcar!” (“Sugar!”) Cruz produced 23 certified gold albums, and was as beloved by her audiences for her heart of gold. For more on Celia Cruz, please visit the Smithsonian American History Museum online exhibit at www.SI.edu.

Happy Birthday to José Donoso Yáñez

October 5, 1924 was the birthdate of internationally renowned Chilean writer José Donoso Yáñez, born in Santiago, Chile. Donoso attended an English language day school as a youngster in Chile.  A rebellious youth, he wrote that he hated his school work and compulsory sports, while his wanderlust inspired travels in South America, the US and Europe.  Donoso later won a scholarship to Princeton University, where he earned a BA in 1951. He spent much of his life in self-imposed exile, and was deeply opposed to the brutal military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. The New York Times described Donoso’s work as, “… novels and short stories [that] used dark surrealism and social satire to explore the haunted lives of exiles and writers and a world of aristocratic excesses.”  (Photo by Ulf  Andersen/Getty Images)