Desi Arnaz, Musician, actor. Born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz III on March 2, 1917 in Santiago, Cuba. Born to a wealthy family, the Arnazes fled Cuba for Miami after a revolution in 1933. After working a number of odd jobs to help support the family, Desi got his first musician’s gig as a guitarist for the Siboney Septet.
After working briefly for Xavier Cugat in New York, Arnaz returned to Miami to lead a combo of his own and introduce the Conga Line to American audiences. It was such a hit, both locally and nationally, that Arnaz returned to New York to start his own band. He was offered a role in the 1939 Broadway musical Too Many Girls and later starred in Hollywood’s film version. It was there that he met his future wife, Lucille Ball. They were married in 1940.
Desi Arnaz made three more films before being inducted into the Army during WWII. During his two years in the service, he was responsible for entertaining the troops. After being discharged, he formed 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.
In 1949, Desi Arnaz turned his efforts to developing the hit television series I Love Lucy, which ran for six years on CBS and became the most successful television program in history.
Desi’s marriage to Lucille Ball ended in 1960. He retired from show business and eventually moved to Baja California with his second wife, Edith. He died in 1986 at the age of 69.