Talisa Soto was a model who was just beginning her acting career when she was cast in the small but important role of Maria in The Mambo Kings. "I cast her because of her extraordinary beauty," said Glimcher, "because I wanted her to be emblematic through the film as the face...that this young man Nestor Castillo couldn't get out of his mind."
In an effort to bring some authenticity to the mambo world of the 1950s depicted in The Mambo Kings, Arne Glimcher hired legendary real-life musicians Tito Puente and Celia Cruz to appear in small roles. Puente appears as himself in a rousing musical sequence, and Cruz plays the dramatic role of Evalina, a nightclub owner. "I convinced (Cruz) that we would take it really easy and I'd go with her word for word if necessary," said Glimcher, "and I think that she became the soul of the movie, the fairy godmother of the movie."
Eddie Torres - also known as 'The Mambo King' - is in Vancouver for the 4th SalsaFestival and stops by to chat about his career in dance and to teach the hosts a mambo step or two!