Lita Baron, Spanish-Born Actress and Nightclub Performer, Dies at 92

Photofest
Lita Baron in the 1946 film 'Don Ricardo Returns.'

Once married to the late actor Rory Calhoun, she played Ricky’s former dance partner from Cuba on an episode of 'I Love Lucy.'

Lita Baron, the effervescent Spanish-born singer, dancer, actress and former wife of Hollywood leading man Rory Calhoun, has died. She was 92.

Baron, who appeared in more than a dozen features and performed at such legendary Hollywood hotspots as Ciro’s and The Mocambo, died Dec. 16 in Palm Springs of complications from a broken hip, her family announced.

On a 1952 episode of I Love Lucy, she played the bombshell Renita Perez, Ricky’s former dance partner from Cuba, and made Lucy quite jealous.

Known as “Isabelita” early in her career, Baron appeared in such films as Club Havana (1945); Don Ricardo Returns (1946); Jungle Jim (1948), with Johnny Weissmuller and George Reeves; Savage Drums (1951) with Sabu; Jesse James’ Women (1954); and Red Sundown (1956), opposite her husband.

She also was seen on the 1958-60 CBS-Desilu series The Texan, a Western that was produced by and starred Calhoun.

Baron had met the handsome actor after a performance at the Sunset Strip nightclub Ciro’s, and they married in 1948 and had three daughters, Cindy, Tami and Lorri. The couple divorced in 1970, and she moved to Palm Springs with the kids. Calhoun died in 1999 at age 76.

Baron was born Isabel Castro on Aug. 11, 1923, in the province of Andalusia, Spain. When she was 5, she and her family came to America and settled in River Rouge, Mich. In the early 1940s, Baron sang and danced as a featured artist with Xavier Cugat’s orchestra.

The family then moved to a home near the Hollywood Bowl, and she signed a movie deal. Later, she and her bandleader, Bobby Ramos, developed and hosted Latin Cruise, one of the first weekly TV musical variety shows in Los Angeles.

In February, Baron was honored at the Palm Springs Art Museum for Modernism Week. In the iconic Slim Aarons 1970 photograph Poolside Gossip, taken at the Richard Neutra-designed Kauffman house in Palm Springs, she is seen at the left walking and wearing a white hat.

In addition to her daughters, survivors include her siblings Marylou and Robert.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4

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