Gloria Estefan is a Cuban-American singer, writer, actress, and businesswoman. She portrays Mirtha on One Day at a Time and sings the This Is It (Theme Song). She also portrayed both herself and Mirtha in The Politics Episode.
Gloria Estefan (née Fajardo-García) was born into a middle-class household on September 1, 1957, in Havana, Cuba, to parents José Fajardo (1933–1980) and Gloria García (1930–2017). Estefan's maternal grandparents were Spanish immigrants.
Her maternal grandfather, Leonardo García, emigrated to Cuba from Pola de Siero, Asturias, Spain, where he married Gloria's grandmother, Consuelo Perez, who was originally from Logroño, Spain. Consuelo's father Pantaleón Perez served as the head chef during the tenure of two Cuban presidents at the Cuban White House. Estefan's paternal side also had musical sensibilities, as the lineage had a famous flutist and a classical pianist.
During her childhood, Estefan's mother Gloria Fajardo (nicknamed "Big Gloria") won an international contest and received a Hollywood offer to dub Shirley Temple's films in Spanish. However, Leonardo García did not permit his daughter to pursue the offer. Gloria Fajardo would earn a Ph.D. in education in Cuba. However, her degrees were destroyed upon fleeing to the United States during the Cuban Revolution.
Estefan's paternal grandparents were José Manuel Fajardo González (who ran one of the first Cuban restaurants in Miami, Florida) and Amelia Montano (who was a poet). Estefan also had uncles who were singer-songwriters. Her father José was a Cuban soldier and a motor escort for the wife of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
As a result of the Cuban Revolution, the Fajardo family fled to Miami, Florida in 1959 and settled there. Soon after they moved to the United States, José joined the United States military and fought in the Vietnam War and moved to Houston after his participation in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. During the Bay of Pigs Invasion, José had been captured by his cousin (who was a member of Fidel Castro's army) and imprisoned in Cuba for nearly two years.
Soon after returning from the Vietnam War in 1968, Estefan's father became ill with multiple sclerosis. His condition was attributed to the Agent Orange poisoning that he suffered in Vietnam. She helped her mother Gloria care for him until the age of sixteen, as her father's condition had grown so severe that he had to be hospitalized at a Veterans Administration medical facility. She also took care of her younger sister Rebecca (nicknamed "Becky"; b. 1963) due to her mother having to work diligently to support the family. Gloria Fajardo first had to regain her teaching credentials. She then worked as a schoolteacher for the Dade County Public School system.
Estefan became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1974, under the name Gloria Garcia Fajardo, reflecting the switch from Spanish naming customs (father's surname then mother's surname) to mother's maiden name as middle name and father's surname last.
In 1975, Gloria and her cousin Mercedes "Merci" Navarro (1957–2007) met Emilio Estefan, Jr. while performing at a church ensemble rehearsal. Emilio, who had formed the band the Miami Latin Boys earlier that year, learned about Gloria through a mutual acquaintance. While the Miami Latin Boys were performing at a Cuban wedding at the Dupont Plaza Hotel, Gloria and Merci (who were wedding guests) performed two Cuban standards impromptu.
They impressed the Miami Latin Boys so much that they were invited to join the band permanently with the band's name changing to Miami Sound Machine. Gloria, who was attending the University of Miami at the time, only agreed to perform during the weekends so that her studies would not be interrupted.
Beginning in 1977, Miami Sound Machine began recording and releasing various albums and 45s on the Audiofon Records label in Miami. The first album from 1977 was entitled Live Again/Renacer and was released with two different covers. After several more releases on the Audiofon label as well as the RCA Victor label and Miami Sound Machine's own label MSM Records, the band was signed to Discos CBS International and released several albums, 45s, and 12"s beginning with the 1978 self-titled album Miami Sound Machine.
Growing in popularity in both the U.S. and around the world, the group would continue recording and issuing various works for Discos CBS International through 1985. It was also in 1978 that Gloria married Emilio Estefan, Jr. after two years of dating.
In 1984, Miami Sound Machine released their first Epic/Columbia album, Eyes of Innocence, which contained the dance hit "Dr. Beat" as well as the ballad "I Need Your Love." Their more successful follow-up album Primitive Love was released in 1985 launching three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Conga" (U.S. No. 10), "Words Get in the Way" (U.S. No. 5), and "Bad Boy" (U.S. No. 8), as well as "Falling in Love (Uh-Oh)" (U.S. No. 25) which became follow up hits in the U.S. and around the world. "Words Get in the Way" reached No. 1 on the US Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, establishing that the group could perform pop ballads as successfully as dance tunes. The song "Hot Summer Nights" was also released that year and was part of the film Top Gun.
Their next album, 1987's Let It Loose, went multi-platinum, with three million copies sold in the US alone. It featured the following hits: "Anything for You" (No. 1 Hot 100), "1-2-3" (No. 3 Hot 100), "Betcha Say That" (No. 36 Hot 100), "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" (No. 5 Hot 100), and "Can't Stay Away from You" (No. 6 Hot 100). "Can't Stay Away From You," "Anything for You," and "1-2-3" were all No. 1 Adult Contemporary hits as well. In that same year, Estefan took top billing and the band's name changed to Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine.
In 1989, the group's name was dropped, and Estefan has been credited as a solo artist ever since. In 1988, after the worldwide chart success of single "Anything for You," her Let it Loose album was repackaged as Anything for You.