Margarita Pracatan: Cuban singer beloved of Clive James dies at 89

Margarita Pracatan with Clive James in 1995Image copyright
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Margarita Pracatan with Clive James in 1995

Margarita Pracatan, the flamboyant Cuban singer who broadcaster Clive James helped make a household name in the UK, has died at the age of 89.

Known for her appearances on James’s ITV chat show, the woman born Margarita Figueroa in 1931 brought a Hispanic flourish to numerous well-known songs.

James discovered her on US cable TV and hired her as his show’s “resident New York-based Latin American chanteuse”.

Last year she was seen performing on The Real Housewives of New York City.

Pracatan’s flamboyant fashions, thick accent and often wayward grasp on her musical material made her a popular fixture on 1990s television.

‘She’s really like that’

“Margarita gives everything she’s got, every time,” said James himself. “If she forgets the words, she sings something else. She never stops.

“When people ask me if it’s all an act, I give them the true answer: no it isn’t. She’s really like that. Somebody had to be, and fate chose her.”

Pracatan gave her own tribute to James when he died last year, paying homage to his “intelligence… talent and beautiful way of living.”

The news was confirmed to the BBC by Stephen Langham, a friend who looked after her affairs in the UK.

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