Actress, Singer. Called "The Latin Bombshell", she is probably best remembered for her career as a headliner in Spanish Harlem. Born Juana di Dios Castrello, she evidenced a talent for singing and dancing from a young age and after leaving school in the 8th grade moved to New York. Taking the stage name Diosa Costello, she began performing in the clubs of Spanish Harlem and soon had a following. In the 1930s she teamed with then-unknown drummer Desi Arnaz at La Conga in the act that provided Arnaz' big break. (Diosa may have been part of the background for a classic "I Love Lucy" episode in which Lucy has nightmares about Ricky's impending reunion with a beautiful Cuban girl he had performed with years earlier; in reality, Lucy, Desi, and Diosa were friends.) Diosa made her Broadway debut in 1939's "Too Many Girls", in the process becoming the first Latina on the Great White Way, then in 1941 was seen for the first time on the silver screen in "They Met in Argentina". She participated in a 1943 traveling production of "Curtain Time", was seen in the 1945 Laurel and Hardy comedy "The Bullfighters", and could have made more movies but preferred New York to Hollywood. Diosa earned her greatest acclaim with a 1950 tour of "South Pacific" before taking over the role on Broadway, her portrayal of Bloody Mary and her renditions of "Bali Ha'i" and "Happy Talk" always bringing down the house. She made her final big screen appearance with Rita Hayworth and Jose Ferrer in 1953's "Miss Sadie Thompson", was active on the night club circuit for a number of years, and was seen on "The Joey Bishop Show" as late as 1968. She was to see both of her marriages, to musicians Pupi Campo and Don Casino, end in divorce and was to spend her final working years as a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas. Toward the end of her life she gave interviews to Smithsonian researchers, her status as the last link to the world of the Spanish Harlem clubs making her a valuable historical source. Diosa lived out her days in South Florida and died of the effects of advanced age. Her birth year is sometimes incorrectly given as 1917; at her demise a CD of her numbers from "Too Many Girls" was available.
Bio by: Bob Hufford