Birth: March 02, 1917
Death: December 02, 1986
Del Mar, Ca
Cause: Lung Cancer
Burial Location: Cremated, Ashes Scattered At Sea
Biography: "If you don't know what to do, don't do anything."
Desi Arnez, born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III in Santiago, Cuba on March 2, 1917, the son of a wealthy landowner who was also the mayor of Santiago. When the revolution broke out in 1933, the Arnez family fled Cuba when they lost everything. Desi worked odd jobs to support his family while living in Florida.
In 1936, he got his first professional musician's job as a guitarist for the Siboney Septet. He later took a cut in pay to work for Xavier Cugat in New York. Six months later, he returned to Miami to lead a Latin combo of his own.
He was offered a role in the 1939 Broadway musical Too Many Girls and later starred in Hollywood's film version. There he met his co-star and future wife, Lucille Ball. They were married later in 1940.
Desi went on to make three more films with RKO and one “Bataan,” with MGM before being inducted into the Army during WWII. During his two years in the service, he was responsible for keeping troops entertained. After being discharged, he went back into music, forming a new orchestra recording several hits during the late 1940s, and served as orchestra leader on Bob Hope's radio show from 1946 to 1947.
The orchestra stopped recording in 1949, after which Desi worked with his wife Lucy to start up their joint production company Desilu and its first major project, the television sitcom “I Love Lucy,” which ran for six years on CBS and became the most successful television program in history.
Even after “I Love Lucy” ended, Desilu Productions continued as a successful and influential company. Desilu produced "December Bride", "Make Room for Danny", "Our Miss Brooks,” and “The Untouchables.”
Desi's marriage to Lucille Ball broke up in 1960. He retired from active participation in show business and sold his half of Desilu to Lucy for $3 million, which made her the most powerful woman in show business. He eventually moved to Del Mar, California with his second wife, Edith, where he lived the rest of his life.
Desi Arnez died of Lung Cancer December 2, 1986.