MEET MY FOLKS
My father was a Cuban singer;
my mother was a red-headed actress;
and, no, my name is not ‘Little Ricky Ricardo’.
I invite you to read about these amazing pioneers of Puerto Rican television who happen to be my folks.
TONY CHIROLDES, aka TONY CHIROLDY (1919-1992)
• Tony Chiroldes left his native Cuba in the late 1940s to pursue new horizons as a crooner, under the name Tony Chiroldy. He had recorded Pedro Junco’s renowned ‘bolero’ titled “Nosotros”, as well as the hits “La bella cubana” and “Recuerdos de Ipacaraí.”
• In 1951, he met and married a then-red-headed Puerto Rican actress, Vilma Carbia (you just can't make this stuff up!).
• In the mid-1950s, Chiroldes joined the many pioneers who were exploring a burgeoning, new industry called 'television'.
• In 1956, he produced RENDEZVOUS NOCTURNO, a 'live' nighttime variety show that -- in its many iterations and change of titles -- would run until the mid-1970s. Vilma hosted that show.
• A myriad of international and boricua performers appeared on Chiroldes-produced TV programs and specials which, given their excellence, left a lasting mark in the history of this tiny Caribbean island.
• Empresas Chiroldes (Chiroldes Enterprises) booked the likes of Benny Moré, Celia Cruz, La Lupe, Roberto Yanés, Rocío Dúrcal, Machito & His Afrocubans, Tongolele, Miguel Aceves Mejía, Joe Cuba & his Sextet; plus the orchestras of Tito Puente; Eddie Palmieri; Ray Barretto; and Mongo Santamaría.
• In 1975, Chiroldes and Carbia divorced, ending too a professional relationship that lasted 23+ years. Chiroldes Sr. retired from TV and became a booking agent for private, corporate, and public presentations.
• Tony Chiroldes Sr. passed away on October of 1992.
VILMA CARBIA (1930-2000)
• The first-ever face to appear in color on Puerto Rican television, Vilma Carbia was already performing in radio and theatre when she met Cuban crooner, Tony Chiroldes (at the time, her hair was red and his stage name was Tony Chiroldy).
• In 1951, the couple was married and during the next years co-produced two daughters -- Vilmarie and Glorimar -- and one son, Tony (that's me!).
• In the mid-1950s, Carbia and Chiroldes launched new careers in television. He would produce -- she would star.
• For 23 years, Carbia hosted a 'live' RENDEZVOUS NOCTURNO, various TV specials, and MEDIODIA CIRCULAR, a 'live' noontime game show.
• RENDEZVOUS NOCTURNO was re-named RAMBLER RENDEZVOUS -- when sponsored by the automaker Rambler -- and also featured a co-host, Carlos Rubén Ortiz.
• During her decades-long career, Carbia performed in numerous ad campaigns and worked alongside television and radio producer/actor Tommy Muñiz. The latter -- along with producers Luis Vigoreaux and Paquito Cordero -- are often named the fathers of Puerto Rico's television (I happen to think that there were mothers too).
• Vilma acted on the films LIBERTAD PARA LA JUVENTUD with Chucho Avellanet and Rosa Haydeé, and TRESPATINES EN ACCION with her second husband: the renowned Cuban comedian Leopoldo Fernández (aka Pototo/Trespatines).
• Vilma Carbia passed away in April of 2000 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.