Born in Santiago, Cuba, he started his career as a musician, playing guitar and percussion with many Latin orchestras, including that of his mentor, Xavier Cugat. Arnaz had a hit with the salsa-flavored Babalu.
He appeared in several films early in his career, of which only Bataan made any lasting impression. It was in Hollywood that he met his wife, Lucille Ball.
After his service in World War II, Arnaz founded his own orchestra, which was successful in live appearances and recordings. After he become engaged in television, he kept the orchestra on his payroll throughout the period he remained an active producer.
He produced and starred in I Love Lucy where his character's name was Ricky Ricardo. He was told that his Cuban accent and Latin style would not be agreeable to American viewers, but he overcame these objections by auditioning the proposed television show before live audiences with great success.
He was the founder, with Lucy, of Desilu productions. There he developed the multicamera setup production style using adjacent sets that become the standard for all subsequent situation comedies. In addition to I Love Lucy, he produced December Bride, Make Room for Daddy and Our Miss Brooks, all Top Ten shows in their time. He is also credited with the invention of the rerun.
Arnaz' marriage with Ball began to collapse under his serious problems with drugs, alcohol and sexual addiction and they divorced.
He died in Del Mar, California from lung cancer.
Desi Arnaz has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for contributions to Motion Pictures at 6327 Hollywood Blvd, and for television at 6220 Hollywood Blvd.
Desi Arnaz Facts
|Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y De Acha III
|Actor, Musician, Producer
|March 2, 1917
|Date of death
|December 2, 1986 (age 69)
|5' 11½" (1m82) How tall is Desi Arnaz compared to you?
|Classic TV Bloopers: Uncensored
|I Love Lucy: The Complete Series
|The Lucy-Desi Milton Berle Special
|The Long, Long Trailer
|TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Comedy
|The Voyage Of The Yes
|I Love Lucy: Season 5
|I Love Lucy
|Automan: The Complete Series