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
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.
- Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986- 1990, pages 32-34. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
- 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.
- Ashes were scattered at sea.
- Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 25-26. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
- In his 1985 will, he left a $250,000 trust fund for the benefit of his mother, who survived him.
- Brother-in-law of 'Fred Ball (II)' (qv).
- In 1945, after his service in the Army, he found himself $30,000 in debt, mostly due to back taxes. 'Lucille Ball' (qv) helped him pay his debt, but due to his pride, considered it a loan, and kept a strict account of the money he owed her.
- In 1957, he opened the Desi Arnaz West Hills Hotel, with 42 rooms and a restaurant featuring his own personal recipes, in Indian Wells. With all the time he spent with his new real estate ventures, he and 'Lucille Ball' (qv) built a home on the 17th fairway at the Thunderbird Golf Club on land he won in a poker game.