Monday, September 29, 2014

Desi Arnaz: the man I didn't know

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I decided to research a famous Hispanic individual whom I knew of but did not really know about. I came across the biography of Desi Arnaz, the bandleader and most famous for his role as Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy.”

Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III was born March 2, 1917 in Santiago, Cuba. His family fled Cuba when his father was accused of being involved in the 1933 revolution led by Fulgencio Batista. The family would settle in Miami, Florida where Desi would take any job he could until he was hired by Xavier Cugat, the “king” of Latin music. He would soon form his own Latin band and launched the conga craze in the US.

He would met his future wife, Lucille Ball on the set of “Too Many Girls” (1940). The two would marry on November 30, 1940 and they would have two children: Lucie (born July 17, 1951) and Desi Jr (born January 19, 1953). Desi and Lucille would form Desilu Productions in 1950 and produced their first show “I Love Lucy” which premiered on October 15, 1951. They both would later confess that they produced the show in order to save their troubled marriage. The show would be revolutionary in the television. In the course of producing the show, Desi would be credited with many inventions in which the television industry still use today. The set of “I Love Lucy” would be the first to use several cameras, a warm-up act, performing before a live audience and rerunning old episodes when production would take a break. When “I Love Lucy” finished airing on May 6, 1957, it left still at number 1. He would also be the first Hispanic man to own his own production company. 

Sadly, his marriage to Lucille Ball would end in divorce on May 4, 1960; however, the two would remain friends until his death on December 2, 1986 at the age of 69 from lung cancer. He is forever remembered and honored as one half of the one of the greatest comedic duos in television history. With “I Love Lucy” in syndication, the show still reaches approximately 40 million Americans each year and many of their fans were not even born when the show originally aired. He would also author an autobiography entitled "A Book". He was a great man who made history and an impact on this country and the world in so many ways.