Desi Arnaz

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Born

3/2/1917 , Santiago , Cuba

Died

12/2/1986

Birth Name

Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III

Gender

Male

Biography:

Desi ArnazBorn into a wealthy family, Desi Arnaz lives a privileged childhood in Cuba. His family includes many politicians as well as the founder of the Bacardi Rum company.

After the Batista revolution in 1933, the Arnaz' flee to Miami, living in impoverished conditions. Desi Arnaz' first job in America includes cleaning bird cages, but eventually he is discovered by famous bandleader Xavier Cugat. His charm and good looks are an added attraction to his musical abilities. Within two years as Cugat's protoge´, Arnaz moves to New York City as a solo artist. He becomes an overnight sensation and provides much "tabloid" coverage as the playboy partner of numerous famous women.

By the late 1930's, he is starring in the Broadway musical, Too Many Girls. Sent to Hollywood in 1940 to star in the movie version, he meets his co-star for the first time, Lucille Ball. Marriage follows their whirlwind courtship.

Like many other Hollywood newcomers in the early 1940's, his film career is put on hold for service in the army during WWII. Afterwards, he begins a sucessful recording career and nightclub tour, as well as a season as Bob Hope's radio show band leader. He also gives a critically acclaimed performance in the classic war film, "Bataan".
In 1950, Lucy and Desi are committed to saving their marriage and starting a family. Television, it is decided, is a way for Lucille and Desi to stay close together. Desi becomes the head of Desilu Productions (Studios), where he changes the way television shows are produced. It is under Desi Arnaz' guidance that television production moves to Hollywood from New York, and situation comedies are filmed live before an audience. A three camera filming technique and top production values change the very face of television to sharp, crystal clear images. He also is responsible for initiating the rerun on network TV, eventually allowing I Love Lucy episodes to be rerun under various titles. He is responsible for many television classics, including I Love Lucy, December Bride, Our Miss Brooks, Desilu Playhouse, Make Room for Daddy, the Untouchables, and the Twilight Zone.

He and Lucy end the run of I Love Lucy in 1957, still the nation's #1 show. They create 13 hour long specials featuring the I Love Lucy characters before divorcing in 1960. He brings Lucille Ball back to television in 1962 in the classic Lucy Show, but leaves after 8 episodes. Lucy buys out his part of Desilu the following season.

Desi Arnaz works seldomly from then on. A late 1960's hit with the Mothers-in-Law runs a couple of seasons, and he makes appearances on Laugh-In, The Andy Williams Show, Ironside, Alice, and Saturday Night Live.

Unfortunately, Hollywood during the 1950's and 1960's never offers Desi the respect he deserves. Besides the overwhelming success of Desilu studios, Desi is a first rate comedian that is an integral part of the success of I Love Lucy. His performances rank with the all time greats in comedy, yet he never receives an Emmy nomination.
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