David de Alba's Encounters
With The Legends Olga y Tony

As I always have said to everyone in the media and elsewhere, Olga y Tony are my Cuban singing idols and Judy Garland is my American idol.   In June of 1969 the world lost Judy and in March of 2001 Tony passed on.   Here is my story for you all in Cyberspace of how I came to love Olga y Tony as a child in Camagüey, Cuba circa 1955 and why my love continued throughout the years.

Olga y Tony 
Havana, 1955  Olga Chorens and Tony Alvarez were Cuba's singing sweethearts then, a married couple who sang their hearts out for a living and who the media labeled lovingly "La Pareja Ideal" (The Ideal Couple).   They were awarded the title/trophies of "Mr. and Mrs. Cuban Televisión" in 1955.   The first time I saw them was on their famous CMQ TV Show in the daytime and at their evening time slot.   I also listened to them on their well-known Radio Progreso Show in the evening.   They came to my town of Camagüey once to "Teatro Principal" to do a one-night concert with their orchestra.   After the show I got to meet them for the first time backstage.   They both looked radiant, like a fairy tale prince and princess from a Walt Disney movie and always very charming to their fans as we all complimented their performances that night.   I can still feel the love of the audience toward them while on stage.

Since my grandfather and father both worked for the railroad company my parents took me once a year to the capital of Cuba, Havana, where Olga y Tony lived and worked.   I got to see them on TV and on the radio and best of all to meet them backstage once again.Olga & David 
Havana, 1955   You will see a photo taken by my Aunt Fé of a young Olga with black hair and me outside the CMQ TV after their show.   I remember that Olga was complaining that her hair did not look good then because she just had her second child Olguita and it was falling out and she had to have it cut shorter than usual.   (Olga was known for having beautiful hair, along with Alba Marina, another lovely Cuban singer who was blonde.)   My parents took me to their little shop in a section of town called "La Rampa" near the CMQ TV Station catering to items of theirs like recordings, Olga y Tony Dolls, etc.. Olga Chorens  We got there before Olga arrived and when she saw me again, greeted me and just for me she sang as a courtesy after my parents bought for me their latest 45 rpm Christmas recording of "Felices Navidades".   (She sang over the recording.)

I still remember that Olga y Tony also worked at another TV station, CH7, and one night she had laryngitis and although she always worked with Tony "live" with an orchestra, apologized after the show because she had to pantomime to one of her recordings that night of "Tengo Una Debilidad".   Also on that night they had a game in their show in which children participated and I was selected to be part of it.   Tony had a phony cigarette in his mouth held by a string from the ceiling and I was supposed to shoot it from his mouth with a make-believe gun.   When I did, one of the stagehands on cue yanked it out of his mouth and I won some silly thing.   Those days life was so simple!   Also at that time I saw them perform at another radio station called: "Radio Cadena Azul" near that TV station.   Every year I would go to Havana at Christmas to visit family members and to see my idols Olga y Tony and to eat those wonderful desserts advertised on their TV shows from the famous pastry shop "La Gran Vía" which only existed in Havana.   What a treat!   I can still taste their famous cakes and pies!

Consuelo, Marķa, & Catuca 
 Cuba, 1955At one time my Grandma María and my Aunt Consuelo from Camagüey went to Havana and joined their sister Catuca who lived there to appear as their guests on their CMQ TV Show.   They were photographed as they sat in three chairs on stage while Olga y Tony talked to them and even dedicated a song singing directly to them.   We were so proud while we watched them at home in our newly purchased 21-inch black and white RCA Victor TV Console.   (The biggest screen made at that time).

Tony Alvarez 
Miami, 1979Olga y Tony always tried to please their audiences as far as song requests were concerned and they made sure that they mentioned the name of the person who made the request after he or she would sing it.   I also remember that after they opened the show with their theme song "Cantemos Siempre Cantemos" Tony would ask the audience "¿Cómo Están Ustedes?" (How are you all?).   When they would reply "Bien" (Fine) Tony would say "Just fine?" The audience replied much louder....."BIEEEN"....!" Then Tony would say to the audience in the studio "Lo demás no importa!", (Nothing else matters).   One time a well dressed and coiffed elderly lady (whose name escapes me) who attended their CMQ TV program everyday was missing from the audience.   When Tony asked the audience how they were doing as usual, and they replied "Fine" he made a point to say that it was "not fine" that day as a cameraman focused on an empty seat in the audience. . . you see, she had just passed away and Olga y Tony looked sad as they spoke fondly of her and how they would miss her presence.   The love and loyalty from their audience members was never taken for granted.   The same applies to Judy Garland as I learned of her genuine appreciation and warmth for her audiences.

Their show was a very clean family show, and many children went to see them perform along with a lot of teenagers and many adults.   Olga y Tony would even read some of their fan mail on the air and show photos of the children and older fans from all over Cuba who wrote to them.   Still the show was not corny.   Backed up by a wonderful orchestra they sang not just children songs like "El Ratoncito Miguel", "Sonríete Niña", "El Alacrán" and "La Marcha de las Letras", etc., but a varied International repertoire taken from their singing tours all over the world, especially South America.   Olga even sang songs about prostitutes in such songs as: "Yo Soy Ésa", "La Piba de mi Barrio", and "Zapaticos de Charol".   Pretty heavy stuff for kids, but done in such wonderful taste to teach to their Cuban audiences that there were all sorts of people from all walks of life represented in their songs.   Olga is such a spectacular performer.   She has one of the best voices I have ever heard.   Her perfect diction and expression of lyrics along with her body language makes every song come alive!   Tony was more than just a wonderful singer but also an accomplished musician, composer, musical arranger, and took care of the business aspects of Showbiz for their careers' success.

Olga and Tony fans remember some hits of theirs such as: "El Cha-Ca-Cha del Tren", "Ropa Blanca", "Mi Ranchito", "Linda Caleñita", "Chinito Chinita" and "Arrivederci Roma" all duets, "Las Caderas de Sofía", "Antonio Tiene Una Orquesta" and "Los Ejes de mi Carreta" some of Tony's own hits and Olga's own hits like "Qué Motivo", "Te Adoraré", "Regalo de Viaje", "Estrellita del Sur", "La Virgen de la Macarena" a classical song from Spain, "Yo Soy Esa", "La Leyenda del Beso", "Cuanto lo Siento", etc. and so many lovely tunes from that beautiful island of Puerto Rico like "Capullito de Alelí", "Ahora Seremos Felices" and "Campanitas de Cristal"; also some Cuban congas like "Sun-Sun-Babae" and those pretty Peruvian Waltzes and of course, lots of tangos from Argentina that great singers like Carlos Gardel and Libertad Lamarque made famous originally.

Everyday I remember that during my school day break at home at noon I would call on my Grandma María, my Aunt Consuelo, my Grandpa Francisco and our dear live-in maid Graciela to watch their TV show as a ritual.   My parents were absent most of those times because they were working at their respective jobs.

Well, all those wonderful days of my life ended when Castro took power over the country and I left Cuba leaving behind all my personal belongings.   My parents left too and later on my Grandma María, Grandpa Francisco and my Aunt Consuelo.   Many other Cubans fled and of course Olga and Tony did too. . . . many years passed by, which I will skip to make this story shorter. . . . . . . .

Olga y Tony Show 
Puerto Rico, 1970In the early 1970's while living by then in San Francisco, California I found out that Olga y Tony's new TV Show from Telemundo TV in San Juan, Puerto Rico where they had moved with their two daughters Lissette and Olguita was being shown in San Francisco and in the rest of the USA.   Lissette in Puerto Rico I saw for the first time in many years a light golden blonde haired Olga sing and Tony looking just as handsome, practically the same as when I saw him last.   I videotaped some of their TV appearances.   Years later after Tony found out I had the VHS tapes he asked me to lend them to him because he never did see the shows and wanted to show them to family and friends and perhaps use some of the scenes for a future TV and video project.   I even got to call them in Puerto Rico a few times once at the Telemundo TV station and then at their home after they graciously gave me their private number.   More years passed . . . . . . .

Olga Chorens 
Puerto Rico, 1975By 1979 Olga y Tony already had moved to Miami, Florida from Puerto Rico and had opened at the well-known "Everglades Hotel" with a new revue featuring their duo act.   Now living in San Francisco, California, I traveled to Florida and got to see them in person after all those many years of absence since my glorious Cuban days before Castro.   I brought with me my partner Paul to see them perform after all the fuss I made to him about their wonderful singing, how I loved them, etc..   And there we were, seeing my beloved idols/singers in person again. . .    After the show I introduced myself to Olga backstage and showed her the picture of her and I taken at CMQ TV in Cuba (shown above), something clicked in her mind because she called to Tony "Oye, Chinito" (her own Spanish pet name for him), "Listen, darling, this is the young boy who saw us in Cuba and who has called us in Puerto Rico!   Yes we remember you now".   This seemed incredible to me because they had seen so many kids during their career.   It was hard to believe I would be remembered. Well, luck was with me because after finding out that I was a singer/impressionist in my own right, working at the impersonator revue of the world famous Finocchio Club in San Francisco, California, I was asked to perform for them the next night.   I had brought the charts to three songs just in case that would happen, but none of my drag costumes, so I sang for them in just male attire, which was a novelty for me.   I told them I would return next year to Miami and perform in drag for them if they wanted me to.   They said "Oh, yes please do" and of course I did.   Can you imagine how lucky I was that my singing idols from Cuba Olga y Tony would tell their audience that I impersonated Olga in one of my acts and they would actually sit down in the front row to hear me sing for them, and of top of that applaud me warmly, telling everyone they knew me since I was a young boy going to see them perform in Cuba!   I would have never had thought that would happen to me in my life, but it did and for that I was grateful to God and to them.

Olga Chorens 
 Puerto RicoLater on in the daytime Olga and I went to different places from a clothing factory to a little Cuban café she liked and knew the owner.   She treated me to a Cuban "café con leche" & toast for breakfast.   We even made it to the Miami version of Cuba's La Gran Vía (the famous pastry shop.)   We spoke about different deep subjects other than Showbiz, about life itself, different lifestyles and customs, UFOs people saw flying in Puerto Rico, etc..   She also drove us to visit her famous singing daughter Lissette, who was pregnant at the time and not feeling too well when Olga introduced me to her.   We did not stay there long.   No matter where we went, she was recognized in spite of wearing dark glasses.   But she turned the spotlight on me as she introduced me to people, always praising me.   What a sweet doll she was and still is!   Tony made arrangements for my partner Paul and I to have a free suite at The Everglades Hotel as a courtesy for performing for them that evening.

Olga & David at the 
 Everglades Hotel, MiamiLater on that day when I visited them in their suite Tony said he had a treat for me.   He asked me to sing over a tape he had recorded of themselves singing their theme song "Cantemos Siempre Cantemos" for me to keep and take home to California.   He also asked me to sing to their arrangements of La Macarena and Ahora Seremos Felices to use that night in the show along with other songs that I had charts for their band to accompany me.   Olga kept saying to Tony after I sang for them "Darling, he surely sings a lot like me and my style and knows more about Olga Chorens than I know about myself."   I answered "Well, I had better know about you and the other characters I portray on stage if I want to make my performances believable."

Here is a funny story I will never forget.   My partner Paul and I along with Olga and Tony went to Boca Ratón in our rented car to look at some real estate.   Paul and I wanted to make Florida our home in the future.   We contacted an American realtor who had no idea who Olga y Tony were, but as he showed us a home owned by a Cuban couple, pandemonium broke out.   The lady of the house told them how much she loved them and their singing from when she was in Cuba, and if they wanted to eat a flan she had just made, etc.   She thought that perhaps Olga y Tony were there to buy her house and she could not believe her eyes.   I explained to the realtor that these were a couple of famous Cuban singing Stars.   He was very impressed.   Another great treat for me was that Olga and I sang her hits together while we rode in the car.   She even went on to explain to me about how she made her recordings in the studio in Cuba, etc..   Meanwhile Tony looked at us and smiled, obviously enjoying the rapport between his wife and me, an adoring fan who went so far as to impersonate her on stage.   Later on during that week Paul and I treated Olga y Tony to see in Miami Beach a well-known female impersonator revue that was playing in a hotel on the night their show was dark.   They enjoyed it, but Tony remarked to me softly that he liked my impersonation act better because I sang with my own voice rather than pantomime to records as the cast of that revue did.   I thought that was a very sweet remark from him to say to me, especially knowing what a master and perfectionist Tony was in his theatrical craft.

Olga and Tony were very kind to me always, especially when they sent to me from time to time audio tapes of their musical arrangements without their voices, so that when I did my tribute concerts of their music in Spanish outside of my Finocchio Club engagement, I could use those superb hit songs of theirs using my own voice.   They appreciated that not only was I a very loyal fan as many others were, but my own artistic inclination and loving impersonation act of Olga.   What a Class Act they were!   This is why I am writing about them here now, not to glorify myself theatrically, but to let people know why these legendary artists have meant so much to me throughout my life.

David, Olga, David's Mom Tila & Tony
Miami, 1980 The last time I performed for them was at their engagement at the beautiful "The Monte Carlo Hotel" in Miami Beach.   I was supposed to do a two night special cameo appearance, but the third night Olga called me at the my Miami Beach motel to tell me that she had a sore throat and asked if I would take her place in the show for that night and do another special guest appearance.   It was a thrill to me that she asked, and further more when Tony announced me on stage that night he said "David de Alba is the next best thing to my wife and he is filling in for her tonight because she does not feel up to par." I am sure many of Olga's fans were disappointed at first, but I was applauded warmly for my loving impersonation of Olga.   A long time passed but through phone calls and Christmas cards we kept in touch through the years.

In the 90's during their "Hit TV Show" in Miami, Tony asked me to send him a video of me in some of my performances taped in the San Francisco area.   He made a special collage of them and along with some of my publicity photos, introduced me on the air to their TV audience.   Later on that year on their radio show, they spoke of me, my shows, my devotion to them, etc..   That was very sweet of them and a lovely surprise when Tony sent me an audiocassette of that program.   Tony was kind enough also to record on videos some of their Miami TV programs and send them to me so I would be able to see them, since he knew I could get that TV station in California; also some videos from their Cuban TV Show days that he got from a fan that left Cuba and got a hold of a few of those programs and gave it to them as a present, thank God for kinescope in those days!

Olga & David
Miami, 2000 In the Year 2000 Paul and I returned to Florida after many years and got to see Olga at their Radio Mambí Show briefly since we had to catch a plane later that afternoon.   Olga was depressed because Tony was very ill by then and the doctors informed her that time was running out on him.   Certainly time would be running out forever on that famous singing duo.   It was hard for her to carry the show all alone and also to deal with the technical part of the production without Tony who was at her side for years.   She took care of Tony in their home until the end.   I told her how sorry I was that Tony was ill, and that I also came to say good-bye to her and many of my family members as I did not expect to return to Florida again.   She said to me "You better stop talking that way or you are going to make me cry!"   Tears started to well up in her beautiful green eyes.   I said to her before I left "You are still my muñeca" (my doll).   Being the modest and sweet person she is, she blushed and looking straight at me like a little girl said "Really, after all these years?"

Olga y Tony AveLa Calle Ocho Walk of Fame Before Tony's passing they were given many tributes in the Miami area, especially to have their star included in "La Calle Ocho Walk of Fame", Miami's own version of the famous one in Hollywood, California, for the Latin-American Stars.   In October of 2008 after Tony's passing, a street in Miami was renamed "Olga y Tony Av"

I still remember one more thing about Olga and Tony's warmth and charm.   One Sunday afternoon I called their home to say hi and after talking to Olga briefly she said suddenly "David, won't you sing for me a few bars of "La Macarena" (she made that song famous).   I want to hear how you sound.   She said she was going to put it on a speaker phone so Tony could hear it too.   I sang it for her and then charming as ever she called to Tony "Tony, David can still do it!"

I will never forget Olga y Tony as long as I live.   Because of my love and devotion to their art and because I appreciate them as the wonderful human beings that they are and also for being my dear friends, I will cherish their friendship and to the end of my days I want this page to air.   They also appear on the Bio Highlights and Celebrity Scrapbook Pages of my Web site, but this is a special tribute to them.   By the way, they both had seen my Web site at Lissette's home and told me they were very proud of the work we did with it and thanked me for including them with so much love.   I am sorry that some of you out there who are reading this today did not get to see them perform 'live' and on TV like I did, but perhaps if only in my own small way, I can spread the word out there in Cyberspace about Olga y Tony, the legacy of their music and charm to the annals of history.   I know Tony is now with his departed Show Business colleagues and his music will be eternal.   These fond memories of Olga y Tony and my encounters with them will be with me for the rest of my days!

Note:  Olga y Tony's famous theme song "Cantemos Siempre Cantemos" was arranged for me especially in a midi-file format for use only in this loving tribute page courtesy of Luciano's Piano Bar, Puerto Rico.

To listen to David singing "Cantemos" with Olga and Tony in Miami at The Everglades Hotel, 1978,   CLICK HERE

Radio Progreso 
 La Onda de la Alegrķa


CD CoverWebmaster's update:     Jan. 2007 David recorded "Un Regalo Musical de Devid de Alba Para Olga Chorens".   This CD was a gift to his Cuban musical idol and friend Olga, and is not for sale to the general public.   Two of Olga's hit numbers were included in the ten tracks: "Cuanto Lo Siento" and "Mi Triste Condena" including a narrative dedication to 'Olga y Tony' in which David sings a capella, their theme song "Cantemos Siempre Cantemos".

CD photo cover taken in 1979 at The Everglades Hotel, Miami, Florida.

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