Desiderio Alberto Arnaz ye de Acha the Third was born in Santiago, Cuba on March 2, 1917. His father was the mayor of Santiago. The 1933 revolution led by Fulgencio Batista had landed his father in jail and stripped the family of its wealth, property and power. His father was released because of the intercession of U.S. officials who believed him to be neutral during the revolt. The family fled to Miami, Florida. One of Desi's first jobs in America consisted of cleaning canary cages. However, after forming his own small band of musicians, he was hired by Xavier Cugat, the "king" of Latin music. Desi soon left Cugat, formed his own Latin band and literally launched the conga craze in America. he was cast in the Broadway play "Too Many Girls", resulting in his being brought to Hollywood to make the film version of the play. It was on the set of Too Many Girls (1940) that he and Lucille Ball met. They soon married and approximately ten years later formed Desilu Productions and began the "I Love Lucy" (1951) shows. Desi and Lucille had two children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr.. At the end of the "I Love Lucy" (1951) run (including the "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" (1957)) the two divorced. Desi later wrote an autobiography entitled "A Book." In 1986 he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and died on December 2, 1986.IMDb Mini Biography By: Wynne Nafus <email@example.com>
|Edith Mack Hirsch||(2 March 1963 - 1985) (her death)|
|Lucille Ball||(30 November 1940 - 4 May 1960) (divorced) 1 daughter Lucie Arnaz, 1 son Desi Arnaz Jr.|
For many years during their marriage, Desi and Lucille Ball hid the fact that she was six years older then he by splitting the difference in their ages. She (born in 1911) said she was born in 1914 and he (born in 1917) also said he was born in 1914.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 25-26. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
His grandfather was one of the original partners in the Bacardi Rum company.
Invented many techniques that are now taken for granted in sitcoms, including the use of several cameras to film the performance, preceding performances with a warm-up act, performing before a live audience, and the rerunning of old episodes.
Instrumental in the creation of numerous classic TV series, in particular "The Untouchables" (1959).
Author of the candid autobiography 'A Book', detailing his alcoholism and infidelities. He had planned to write a sequel, called 'Another Book'.
According to Mafia boss turned government informant Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno in his book "The Last Mafioso", several top members of the Chicago Mafia family were furious about the portrayal of Italians in general and the Mafia in particular in "The Untouchables" (1959), of which Arnaz was executive producer, and put out a contract on his life. Several mob hitmen hid in the bushes and behind trees outside his house one night after having been tipped off that he was on his way home and were going to shoot him when he pulled into his driveway, but for some unknown reason Arnaz never came home that night. The killers were supposed to come back again and wait for him the next night, but in the meantime cooler heads prevailed and the murder plot was called off. Arnaz apparently never found out how close he came to being murdered.
Ashes were scattered at sea.
Brother-in-law of Fred Ball.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986- 1990, pages 32-34. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
In 1957, recognizing the need for the company to expand, he purchased the real estate of the former RKO Studios, home of Lucille Ball's former employer. The industry balked at their decision to plunk down $6,150,000 for the fledging studio property, but it was a strategic move that ultimately made both he and Lucy millionaires.
In 1950, along with wife Lucille Ball, in an effort to find a way to work together, formed a production company with $5,000 of their own money, naming it 'Desilu' which is what they had named their ranch in Chatsworth, California. He remained president of the company until selling his interest to his ex-wife in 1962 for $3 million.
In 1945, after his service in the Army, he found himself $30,000 in debt, mostly due to back taxes. Lucille Ball helped him pay his debt, but due to his pride, considered it a loan, and kept a strict account of the money he owed her.
In 1953, Desilu was evaluated as being worth $10 million, did a gross business of $6 million and made the Arnazes a net profit of $600,000 before taxes. This was added to an additional $500,000 in income from "I Love Lucy" (1951) merchandise.
In 1953, with "I Love Lucy" (1951) the #1 show in America, Philip Morris, their primary sponsor, agreed to sponsor the show for an additional 2 and a half years for $8 million, $5 million of which went directly to the Arnazes and their company.
In December 1958, in order to raise revenue for business and personal expenses, Desilu went public on the NYSE at $10 per share. Lucille Ball and Desi each retained 25% of the stock, with the swing vote going to key executives at Desilu. After paying gambling debts and expenses, he realized $70,000 to $80,000.
In 1957, he opened the Desi Arnaz West Hills Hotel, with 42 rooms and a restaurant featuring his own personal recipes, in Indian Wells. With all the time he spent with his new real estate ventures, he and Lucille Ball built a home on the 17th fairway at the Thunderbird Golf Club on land he won in a poker game.
In 1957, in an effort to expand Desilu, he sold CBS his and Lucille Ball's rights to 179 "I Love Lucy" (1951) 30-minute shows for $4,500,000. They also sold their rights to "December Bride" (1954) for $500,000 and CBS had exclusive rights to their public appearances for 10 years for an additional $1,000,000. With these profits, Desilu purchased RKO Studios for $6,125,000.
In his 1985 will, he left a $250,000 trust fund for the benefit of his mother, who survived him.
Grew up being best friends with Albert Francis "Sonny" Capone, son of Al Capone.
Once worked as a bird-cage cleaner.
After their divorce, Desi produced Lucy's hit musical "Wildcat" on Broadway.
His distinctive laugh was perfectly imitated by Eddie Murphy many times during his stand-up comedy routine.
He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 6325 Hollywood Boulevard; and for Television at 6254 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
"I Love Lucy" (1951) was never just a title!
[after wife Lucille Ball was accused of being a Communist] The only thing red about her is her hair, and that isn't even real.
If you don't know what to do, don't do anything.
Failure is the most terrible thing in our business. When we fail, the whole world knows about it.
|Father Takes a Wife (1941)||$10,000|
|Four Jacks and a Jill (1942)||$10,000|
|The Navy Comes Through (1942)||$10,000|
|Cuban Pete (1946)||$10,000|
|The Long, Long Trailer (1953)||$125,000 + $150,000 (profits bonus)|
|"I Love Lucy" (1951)||$2,000/episode + 50% of the profits for the first 39 episodes as well as full ownership to negatives of all future shows (1951-52)|
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