Desi Arnaz Biography
Biography on Desi Arnaz, who was married to Lucille Ball and starred as "Ricky Ricardo" in the hit 1950's series "I Love Lucy."
Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III, better known to the general public as “Desi Arnaz,” was born on March 2, 1917 in Santiago, Cuba, to a family of wealthy Cuban landowners. Batista took over Cuba in 1933, and by 1934 a revolution had erupted, causing the Arnaz family to lose everything they owned.
Desi began working with Xavier Cugat in 1937, and eventually he formed his own rumba band. In 1940, Desi starred in both the stage and movie versions of “Too Many Girls.” He met his future wife, Lucille Ball, on the movie set, and they eloped to Connecticut in November of the same year.
From the very beginning, Lucy and Desi’s marriage was problematic. With Desi constantly on the road with his band, and Lucille’s acting career, the couple never had any time to spend together. Then in 1943, Desi was drafted into the army. He fell on good luck, however, when he dislocated his knee-cap in an army baseball game. He then was sent to work in an army hospital in Birmingham, California, not far from Lucy and his home. Finally, in 1945, Desi was released from the army.
When Desi and Lucy came up with the idea to do a television show, they fought to do it together, in an attempt to save their failing marriage. They could not get any television networks to buy their idea, however, because they didn’t think that Cuban Desi Arnaz was believable as red-headed, American Lucille Ball’s husband. The couple sought to prove them wrong by going on tour with their act, proving their idea would work. Once they had earned a total of $5000 dollars with their show, they filmed the pilot in 1951. “I Love Lucy” soon became the most popular television show on the air, and still is one of the most watched shows even fifty years later. “I Love Lucy” ran until 1957, when Desi decided to make hour long episodes of the show. The show was then renamed “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” and it ran until 1960, when Lucy and Desi divorced because of personal problems. Desi married his second wife, Edith Hirsch, on March 2, 1963. They were married until her death from cancer in 1985.
Desi Arnaz died of lung cancer on December 2, 1986 in Del Mar, California at the age of 69. He was cremated. Desi is survived by his two children, Lucie and Desi Arnaz Jr (both with first wife Lucille.) Desi’s ex-wife, Lucille Ball, died in 1989.