Armando Hipólito Avellanet González
August 13, 1941
|Relatives||Robert Avellanet (nephew)|
Before becoming famous, he had been performing across Puerto Rico's western coast with various musical trios, particularly with the Trio Los Duendes. He was regarded as having a powerful voice, but was too shy to occupy a solo spot in any of the groups he performed with. In fact, Avellanet claimed, he felt better suited to performing comedy, and he did comic sketches at a few high school functions. After he returned from a stint with the Army National Guard in North Carolina he was discovered by Cuban-born television promoter Gaspar Pumarejo, who immediately introduced him to the Puerto Rico television audience.
His career formally started during the week of 23–28 May 1961, when he was featured daily on Pumarejo's show. His first formal live performance was opening for Myrta Silva at a Puerto Rican music review regularly staged at the Tropicoro Room of El San Juan Hotel in Carolina, Puerto Rico now the Wyndham El San Juan Hotel & Casino. He took voice lessons from Puerto Rican soprano Rina de Toledo.
Avellanet achieved teen-idol status in Puerto Rico during the 1960s, as a member of the Nueva Ola pop music movement. Helped by Alfred D. Herger, he was a member of a group of teen sensations that included Lissette Alvarez (to whom Avellanet got married), Lucecita Benítez, Yolandita Monge, Ednita Nazario and Charlie Robles, among others. Such was his popularity that he was booked to do three shows on New Year's Eve 1961 and New Year's Day 1962. With La Nueva Ola, he recorded his first album, titled Fugitiva. His first hit was a Spanish version of Marty Robbins' Devil Woman loosely translated by Herger under the title Magia Blanca (White Magic). He later had his first major international hit with another song adapted to Spanish, a version of pop standard I Can't Stop Loving You titled Jamás te olvidaré (I Will Never Forget You).
Avellanet later performed with a group of singers named La Juventud Canta. Although not a conventional music group, La Juventud Canta toured all over Latin America, and Avellanet extended his teen-idol status to other countries such as Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela, where Avellanet enjoyed a solid teen girl fan base.
Avellanet would soon join the United Artists record label, making what would be his only attempt at a cross-over into the American pop genre, with the album In a Little Spanish Town. His fourteen other records under that label were recorded in Spanish. In 1965, under United Artist, he recorded the album titled Chucho Avellanet Baladas Spanish Sounds in Country Music produced by LeRoy Holmes. This album featured a choice sampling of the better tunes that had emerged from the world of country and Western music at the time including It Makes No Difference Now (No Me Importa) by Jimmy Davis, and Sinceridad ("Are you Sincere?") by Wayne Walker/Gil Veda.
1972 was a very eventful year for Avellanet, who represented his country finishing in fourth place at that year's Festival OTI in Spain. Then, Avellanet made history by becoming the first Hispanic to perform at the Miss Universe contest, held that year in the Puerto Rican beach town of Dorado.
Chucho Avellanet diversified, and by the 1980s, he was as known for his acting as he was for his singing. Having signed up with Canal 2, he was able to explore his ability both in the show hosting and acting fields when he hosted, alongside Lissette Alvarez, the popular El Show de Chucho y Lissette. He also hosted Senoras y Senores and Con Chucho Avellanet before finally settling on El Show de Chucho. Avellanet also performed comedy on El Show de Chucho, participating in the show's comedy segment. In one particularly memorable comic chapter, he screamed, May the roof fall on us if I'm lying! and the roof then "crashed down" on him and his guests. He also participated, with Lissette, in a famous Schaefer Beer commercial, where he sang the jingle Cerveza Schaefer es la mejor cuando se toma mas de una (Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one). During the filming of the commercial, the boat they were on was rocked by a submarine of the United States Navy passing below it; the experience made a lasting impression on him, which years later led him to support the cause of the people of Vieques in their demands to have the Navy vacate their bombing range on Vieques and Culebra.
One of Avellanet's biggest international hits during the decade of the '80s came in his song Sera varon, sera mujer? (Will It Be a Boy, Will It Be a Girl?), where he explored the questions couples expecting a baby might ask themselves. This song coincided with his wife's pregnancy, and in his case, his baby turned out to be a boy. He was by then married to his second wife, Venezuelan actress Marisela Berti, whom he later also divorced.
In 1988, Avellanet came back to the headlines, but not precisely because of his own, personal success: His nephew Roberto Alejandro Avellanet Negrón was chosen as the newest member of Menudo. Roberto followed in his uncle's footsteps, becoming a major teen-idol in Puerto Rico within months of his joining the teenaged boy band.
On stage in San Juan during the 1980s, Avellanet appeared as "El Lince" in the musical "La Verdadera Historia de Pedro Navaja", a Caribbean-set adaptation of "The Beggar's Opera", and "Father Silvestre" in the Puerto Rican production of "El Diluvio que Viene" (the Spanish-version of the Italian musical "Aggiungi un posto a tavola"). He returned to the theater in Puerto Rico in 2014, in a Spanish-language production of "Shear Madness" ("Con los Pelos de Punta")
In 1989 he starred in "Papi", a prime-time sitcom on "WAPA-TV", Puerto Rico's Channel 4, in which he played the superintendent of a condominium with eccentric residents. He sang the show's intro theme song called "Yo Soy Como Soy" ("That's Who I am"). He returned to sitcoms in 2012 with "Papi en Casa ("Dad at Home"), on "WLII-TV", Channel 11, Puerto Rico's "Univision" affiliate, in which he played a grandfather.
In 1994, Avellanet, Lucecita Benítez and Lissette Alvarez rejoined forces for a one-night-only concert.
In 2010, Avellanet performed at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, held in Mayagüez. Later in the year he publicly announced that he was undergoing chemotherapy for treating Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Stating that his prognosis is good, he nevertheless asked for privacy while undergoing treatment.