In 1933 Cavallaro joined Al Kavelin's orchestra, where he quickly became the featured soloist. After four years he switched to a series of other big bands, including Rudy Vallee's in 1937. He also worked briefly with Enric Madriguera and Abe Lyman.
Cavallaro formed his own band, a five-piece combo, in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1939. His popularity grew and his group expanded into a 14-piece orchestra, releasing some 19 albums for Decca over the years. Although his band traveled the country and played in all the top spots, he made a particular impact at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, which became a favored venue, and which also later became a favorite spot of George Shearing and Mel Tormé. Other venues where he drew large audiences included New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, Chicago’s Palmer House and the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles. In 1963 he had a million-seller hit recording of the song "Sukiyaki".
One of Cavallaro's vocalists, Guy Mitchell, later became famous in his own right.
Cavallaro's single best-selling recording was his pop version of Chopin's 'Polonaise', Op. 53.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6301 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
Albums by Carmen Cavallaro include:
- 12 Easy Lessons in Love (1958, Decca DL 8747)
- Cavallaro With That Latin Beat (1959, Decca DL 8864 (mono), DL 78864 (stereo))
- The Carmen Cavallaro Camp Plays the 3 B’s (1970, GWP ST 2011)
- Carmen Cavallaro Plays His Show Stoppers (1960, Decca DL 4018 (mono), DL 74018 (stereo))
- Carmen Cavallaro Plays the Hits (1968, Decca DL 4914 (mono), DL 74914 (stereo))
- Carmen Cavallaro Remembers Eddie Duchin (Decca DL 8661, DLM 8661)
- Cherry Blossom Time: Popular Melodies of Japan (1964, Decca DL 4545 (mono), DL 74545 (stereo))
- Cocktail Time (1962, Decca DL 4155 (mono), DL 74155 (stereo))
- Cocktails With Cavallaro (1960, Decca DL 8805 (mono), DL 78805 (stereo))
- Dancing in the Dark (Decca DL 8961 (mono), DL 78961 (stereo); also DL 8120, probably an earlier release)
- Easy Listening (1966, Decca DL 4743 (mono), DL 74743 (stereo))
- The Eddie Duchin Story (1959, Decca DL 8289 (mono), DL 78289 (stereo)) Film soundtrack.
- I Wish You Love: Fabulous French Songs (1964, Decca DL 4566 (mono), DL 74566 (stereo))
- Informally Yours (1960, Decca DL 4017 (mono), DL 74017 (stereo))
- Love Can Make You Happy (1960, Decca DL 75155)
- The Magic Music of Hollywood (1965, Decca DL 4669)
- The Master's Touch (1956, Decca DL 8288)
- More (1965, MCA MUPS 359)
- Rome At Night (1956, Decca DL 8359)
- Songs Everybody Knows (1964, Decca DL 4489 (mono), DL 74489 (stereo))
- Swingin’ Easy (1962, Decca DL 4287 (mono), DL 74287 (stereo))