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.
- In his 1985 will, he left a $250,000 trust fund for the benefit of his mother, who survived him.
- In December 1958, in order to raise revenue for business and personal expenses, Desilu went public on the NYSE at $10 per share. 'Lucille Ball' (qv) and Desi each retained 25% of the stock, with the swing vote going to key executives at Desilu. After paying gambling debts and expenses, he realized $70,000 to $80,000.
- In the film _The Mambo Kings (1992)_ (qv), he was portrayed by his real-life son, 'Desi Arnaz Jr.' (qv).
- 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 1953, Desilu was evaluated as being worth $10 million, did a gross business of $6 million and made the Arnazes a net profit of $600,000 before taxes. This was added to an additional $500,000 in income from _"I Love Lucy" (1951)_ (qv) merchandise.
- In 1950, along with wife 'Lucille Ball' (qv), in an effort to find a way to work together, formed a production company with $5,000 of their own money, naming it 'Desilu' which is what they had named their ranch in Chatsworth, California. He remained president of the company until selling his interest to his ex-wife in 1962 for $3 million.
- 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.
- In 1957, in an effort to expand Desilu, he sold CBS his and 'Lucille Ball' (qv)'s rights to 179 _"I Love Lucy" (1951)_ (qv) 30-minute shows for $4,500,000. They also sold their rights to _"December Bride" (1954)_ (qv) for $500,000 and CBS had exclusive rights to their public appearances for 10 years for an additional $1,000,000. With these profits, Desilu purchased RKO Studios for $6,125,000.