Desi Arnaz Biography

Desi Arnaz was a renowned musician and television producer of America. This biography of Desi Arnaz provides detail information about his profile, childhood, life & timeline.

Desi Arnaz
Quick Facts

Birthday: March 2, 1917

Nationality: Cuban, American

Famous: Hispanic Men Hispanic Actors

Died At Age: 69

Sun Sign: Pisces

Born Country: Cuba

Born in: Santiago de Cuba, Cuba


Spouse/Ex-: Edith Mack Hirsch, Lucille Ball (1940–1960) divorced

father: Desiderio Alberto Arnaz II

mother: Dolores de Acha

children: Desi Arnaz, Jr., Lucie Arnaz

Died on: December 2, 1986

place of death: Del Mar, California, U.S.

Personality: ESFJ

Cause of Death: Cancer

Founder/Co-Founder: Desi Arnaz Productions

More Facts

education: St. Patrick Catholic High School

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Desi Arnaz was a famous musician, actor and television producer of America. He was the founder of the successful Latin music band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra. This orchestra introduced America to conga, a Latin-American dance that received huge popularity. It was Xavier Cugat , a prominent figure of Latin music, who noticed him for his potentiality as a musician. His single “Babalu” is regarded as his signature song. Together with his wife Lucille Ball, he formed Desilu Productions whose works include organizing both of their programs on stage, screens and radio. Under this production, he produced several television series like ‘The Ann Sothern Show’ and ‘The Untouchables’. This production house also produced feature films like ‘Forever, Darling’. As an influential producer, he is credited for his innovative ideas like multi-camera sitcom and organizing live shows before audience at studio through his production of ‘ I Love Lucy’. As an actor, he will be remembered for his outstanding performance in American television series ‘I Love Lucy’ as Ricky Ricardo. He also acted in several films such as ‘Father Takes a Wife’ and ‘The Navy Comes Through’. His role as a dying soldier in ‘Bataan’ brought him wide recognition as a skilled actor.

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Desi Arnaz
Childhood & Early Life
  • Born as Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III in Santiago de Cuba, Desi Arnaz was the son of Desiderio Alberto Arnaz II, a Cuban politician and Dolores de Acha.
  • He belonged to an affluent family that owned three ranches, a palatial home and a vacation mansion situated on a private island in Santiago Bay, Cuba.
  • After the Cuban Revolution in 1933, Alberto, his father was imprisoned and their entire property was confiscated. When his father was released, the family escaped Miami, Florida.
  • After reaching Florida, Desi took admission at St. Patrick Catholic High School. In an attempt to improve his English, he attended Saint Leo Prep, situated near Tampa in 1934. At the same time, he used to play guitar at the Roney Plaza Hotel.
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  • When Xavier Cugat , a Spanish-American bandleader, discovered his musical potential, Desi got the offer of performing as part of Cugat orchestra. In December 1937, he formed his own band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra in Miami Beach.
  • The band helped him to get recognition in the music industry of that country and he got the offer to give audition for a Broadway musical ‘Too Many Girls’ in 1939. In the next year, he went to Hollywood to act in the film version of that musical.
  • In May 1943, he received his draft notice to serve in World War II. As part of the Army, he took the responsibility to direct United Service Organization programs at a military hospital in San Fernando Valley.
  • After his discharge from service in the Army, he organized a new orchestra that achieved immense success with live appearances and recordings. In 1946, he performed his single “Babalu” that received critical acclaim.
  • In 1948, along with Lucille Ball, he started Desilu Productions that used to organize their programs on stage, screen and radio. In the next year, he played a crucial role in developing “I Love Lucy’, a successful television series that the CBS broadcast for six years.
  • He acted as the bandleader for Bob Hope’s radio show. Later, he hosted a musical quiz show titled ‘Your Tropical Trip’. His Desilu Production produced several shows like ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, ‘ The Dick Van Dyke Show’ and ‘Star Trek’.
  • When Ball sold her share of this production house, Desi formed his own production company Desi Arnaz Productions that produced television sitcom ‘The Mothers-In-Law’.
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  • In the later part of 1970, he co-hosted a week of shows along with daytime host and producer Mike Douglas. He also made a guest appearance with his son Desi. Jr. on ‘Saturday Night Live’ to promote his autobiography “A Book”.
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Major Works
  • He acted in ‘I Love Lucy’, an American television situation comedy that was broadcast from October 15, 1951 to May 6, 1957 on the CBS. Its story depicts the life of Lucy Ricardo and her bandleader husband Ricky Ricardo. The show won five Emmy Awards.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • On November 30, 1940, he married Lucille Ball, an actress. They led an unhappy married life. They had two children, Lucie Arnaz, an actress and Desi Arnaz, Jr., an actor.
  • Ball divorced him in 1960, owing to his problems with alcohol and womanizing. At that time, he was suffering from diverticulitis. On March 2, 1963, he married Edith Mack Hirsch.
  • He used to smoke four to five Cuban cigars a day. This habit of Desi led him towards suffering from lung cancer. His first wife Ball spent several hours with him before he lapsed into a coma. He died after several months at the age of 69.
  • While living in Cuba with his parents, this multi-talented personality ate cans of pork-and-beans to save money and during that time, he used to clean bird cages for a man to earn money.


Golden Globe Awards
1956 Television Achievement Winner

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- Desi Arnaz Biography
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Last Updated
- September 25, 2017

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