Desi Arnaz

Actor, Musician, Singer
As the conga drum-beating bandleader Ricky Ricardo, Desi Arnaz became a household name and, along with wife Lucille Ball, one-half of an iconic team on TV's most beloved sitcom of all time, "I Love Lucy" (CBS, 1951-57) ... Read more »
Born: 03/01/1917 in Cuba

Filmography

Actor (16)

Pioneers of Television 2011 (Tv Show)

Interviewee

I Love Lucy: The Very First Show 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Musica 1984 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Escape Artist 1981 (Movie)

Mayor Quinones (Actor)

The Desilu Playhouse 1958 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

The Desilu Revue 1959 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

The Untouchables 1958 - 1959 (TV Show)

Actor

I Love Lucy 1951 - 1957 (TV Show)

Actor

Forever, Darling 1956 (Movie)

Lorenzo Xavier Vega (Actor)

The Long, Long Trailer 1954 (Movie)

Nicholas Carlos Collini (Actor)

The Navy Comes Through 1941 (Movie)

(Actor)

Too Many Girls 1939 (Movie)

(Actor)

Bataan (Movie)

Felix Ramirez (Actor)

Cuban Pete (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Father Takes a Wife (Movie)

Carlos (Actor)

Holiday in Havana (Movie)

Carlos Estrada (Actor)
Music (3)

Thirty Days Until I'm Famous 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Song Performer

A Smile Like Yours 1997 (Movie)

("Lady in Red" "Rock a Bye Baby" "We're Having a Baby (My Baby and Me)") (Song Performer)

Lucy & Desi: TV's First Couple 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Music
Producer (3)

The Lucy Show 1962 - 1968 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Ann Sothern Show 1958 - 1962 (TV Show)

Producer

Forever, Darling 1956 (Movie)

(Producer)
Camera, Film, & Tape (1)

Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie (TV Show)

Photography

Biography

As the conga drum-beating bandleader Ricky Ricardo, Desi Arnaz became a household name and, along with wife Lucille Ball, one-half of an iconic team on TV's most beloved sitcom of all time, "I Love Lucy" (CBS, 1951-57). Unbeknownst to many who deemed him simply a Latin musician who rode his wife's coattails to fame, Arnaz was also a powerful and influential producer, partly responsible for many conventions of television taken for granted today, such as the multi-camera sitcom, filming shows live before a studio audience - not to mention the very idea of the rerun. In essence, Arnaz was ahead of his time in so many ways and, unfortunately in his lifetime, never received the acclaim he so richly deserved.

Relationships

Desi Arnaz Jr. Actor

Son
Born on January 19, 1953

Lucie Arnaz

Daughter
born on July 17, 1951 married to actor Laurence Luckenbill

Lucille Ball

Wife
married on November 30, 1940 divorced in March 1960 met while filming "Too Many Girls" (1940)

Edith Hirsch

Wife
married from 1963 until her death in 1985

EDUCATION

St Patrick's High School

Miami Beach , Florida

Milestones

1982

Billed as Desiderio Arnaz in small role in "The Escape Artist"

1962

Served as executive producer on Lucille Ball's first solo series, "The Lucy Show"

1962

Sold his shares of Desilu to Ball (she later sold Desilu to Gulf + Western in 1967)

1958

Desilu went public

1957

Desilu purchased RKO Gower and RKO Culver City Studio facilities from General Tire, giving Desilu 35 sound stages

1957

Sold syndication rights and "I Love Lucy" series back to CBS for $4 1/2 million to finance expansion of Desilu studio

1957

"I Love Lucy" expanded into the hour-long format, "The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show"

1951

Formed Desilu Productions, with himself as president and Lucille Ball as vice president, to produce the TV series, "I Love Lucy"

1946

Formed 22-piece orchestra; introduced signature song, "Babalu"

1942

Served in US Army Special Services at Birmingham General Hospital in Southern CA organizing entertainment for returning wounded servicemen

1941

Performed onstage in singing, dancing vaudeville act

1941

Signed by MGM

1941

First dramatic film role in "Bataan"

1940

Signed two-year contract with RKO

1940

First film as actor, "Too Many Girls"

1939

Featured on Broadway in the Rodgers and Hart musical, "Too Many Girls"

1937

Apprenticed under Xavier Cugat on tour for six months

1933

Family's property was confiscated, father was held as political prisoner for six months and Desi Arnaz and mother fled to Miami during the Batista revolution in Cuba

Formed own rival rhumba band, Desi Arnaz and his Xavier Cugat Orchestra; first introduced the conga line

Served as musical director of Bob Hope's radio program

Appeared with band in 61-minute film, "Cuban Pete"

Starred, produced and directed TV sitcom, "I Love Lucy"

While in high school worked as singing guitarist, relieving the Buddy Rogers Orchestra at the Roney Plaza Hotel in Miami

Was executive producer of "The Mothers-in-Law"

Hosted Desilu's "Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse"

Bought five-acre ranch in Chatsworth CA with Lucille Ball, christened Desilu

Bonus Trivia

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"Long overshadowed by the enormous acclaim accorded Ball's role in the durable series, Arnaz' public image--and that within the industry to some extent--tended toward one of a thick-accented, conga-drum-playing extension of his one-time wife. Many close to the situation at the time, however, including Ball herself, credited Arnaz as architect of the couple's great success, possessing a keen business acumen and inherent knack for showmanship that guided Desilu Studios, over which he presided for more than a decade, from a one-show production company to a preeminent Hollywood independent." --Tom Gilbert in Arnaz's Variety obituary, December 3, 1986)

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Arnaz did not actually take a producer credit on "I Love Lucy" until the show's third season. Prior to that, Jess Oppenheimer, who has the official credit--never seen on-screen--as "creator" of "I Love Lucy" was the sole producer of the series, per his contract.

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Was billed as Desiderio Arnaz for his last film appearance in the 1982 "The Escape Artist". The name was necessitated by Arnaz having relinquised his claim to 'Desi Arnaz' in the Screen Actors Guild records in favor of his son, Desi Arnaz, Jr., so that the younger Arnaz could drop the 'Jr.'.

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Arnaz's last TV episodic appearance was on a segment of "Alice" playing a friend of the title character's who was warring with his wife. Arnaz did the guest spot in large measure because the executive producers of the show, Madelyn Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr., has been the chief writers of "I Love Lucy" and many other Desilu series.

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