69 (passed away Dec. 2nd, 1986)
Mar. 2nd, 1917
5' 10 1/2"
Desi Arnaz's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1956 - Forever, Darling
1943 - Bataan
Guest TV Roles
Himself - Host
Himself - Host
Dr. Juan Domingo
Desiderio Alberto Arnaz ye de Acha the Third was born in Santiago, Cuba on March 2, 1917. His father was the mayor of Santiago. The 1933 revolution led by Fulgencio Batista had landed his father in jail and stripped the family of its wealth, property and power. His father was released because of the intercession of U.S. officials who believed him to be neutral during the revolt. The family fled to Miami, Florida. One of Desi's first jobs in America consisted of cleaning canary cages. However, after forming his own small band of musicians, he was hired by Xavier Cugat, the "king" of Latin music. Desi soon left Cugat, formed his own Latin band and literally launched the conga craze in America. he was cast in the Broadway play "Too Many Girls", resulting in his being brought to Hollywood to make the film version of the play. It was on the set of Too Many Girls (1940) that he and Lucille Ball met. They soon married and approximately ten years later formed Desilu Productions and began the "I Love Lucy" (1951) shows. Desi and Lucille had two children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr.. At the end of the "I Love Lucy" (1951) run (including the "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" (1957)) the two divorced. Desi later wrote an autobiography entitled "A Book." In 1986 he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and died on December 2, 1986.
- His grandfather was one of the original partners in the Bacardi Rum company.
- In 1953, with _"I Love Lucy" (1951)_ (qv) the #1 show in America, Philip Morris, their primary sponsor, agreed to sponsor the show for an additional 2 and a half years for $8 million, $5 million of which went directly to the Arnazes and their company.
- In 1957, recognizing the need for the company to expand, he purchased the real estate of the former RKO Studios, home of 'Lucille Ball' (qv)'s former employer. The industry balked at their decision to plunk down $6,150,000 for the fledging studio property, but it was a strategic move that ultimately made both he and Lucy millionaires.
- Instrumental in the creation of numerous classic TV series, in particular _"The Untouchables" (1959)_ (qv).
- Invented many techniques that are now taken for granted in sitcoms, including the use of several cameras to film the performance, preceding performances with a warm-up act, performing before a live audience, and the rerunning of old episodes.
- Ironically, the radio show on which _"I Love Lucy" (1951)_ (qv) was based, "My Favorite Husband," was itself based on a book entitled "Mr. and Mrs. Cugat." Arnaz worked for 'Xavier Cugat' (qv) during this time.
- Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 25-26. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
- According to Mafia boss turned government informant Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno in his book "The Last Mafioso", several top members of the Chicago Mafia family were furious about the portrayal of Italians in general and the Mafia in particular in _"The Untouchables" (1959)_ (qv), of which Arnaz was executive producer, and put out a contract on his life. Several mob hitmen hid in the bushes and behind trees outside his house one night after having been tipped off that he was on his way home and were going to shoot him when he pulled into his driveway, but for some unknown reason Arnaz never came home that night. The killers were supposed to come back again and wait for him the next night, but in the meantime cooler heads prevailed and the murder plot was called off. Arnaz apparently never found out how close he came to being murdered.