ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Dezi Arnaz

Updated on June 7, 2011

Those who are familiar with Dezi Arnaz, (born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III, on March 2nd, 1917), probably remember him for his role as Ricky Ricardo on the I Love Lucy TV hit. But not everyone is aware of his other accomplishments. For example he was the one who introduced the congo line to the American public!

He was also one of the most powerful television producers in the business, when TV was in the early stages. Some of the technological approaches he used way back in the early 1950s are still central to television's continued cultural and economic force in today's world. He actually has two stars on Hollywood's "Walk of Fame". One for his contributions to TV. The other for his work, mainly behind the scenes, in movies.

Dezi Arnaz was a child of wealth growing up in Santiago. His family had been some of the first to receive Spanish land grants in Cuba in the 1700s. His father was the youngest mayor of Santiago to ever hold the office. He then went on to serve in the Cuban House of Representatives. Being around the movers and shakers of the area while growing up might very well have influenced the young Dezi in aspects of his business development later in life.

The revolution that rocked the island nation in 1933, and led by Fulgencio Batista, saw the over-throw of the American backed president. The Arnaz family lost all their power and money, Dezi's father spent 6 months in prison, after which the family was finally able to come to the USA. US officials had intervened on the senior Arnaz's behalf. They moved to Miami.

Dezi started his career as a musician in 1936, playing guitar and percussion in a Latin orchestra in Miami. Next, he moved to New York City and began his association with his mentor, Xavier Cugat . But he soon moved back to Mimai to lead his own band. Not long afterward, the congo line became a new dance craze that swept the nation.

In 1939, at the age of 22, Dezi starred in the Broadway musical, Too Many Girls . He went to Hollywood to star in the film version of the same show in 1940, which just happened to also star Lucille Ball . The couple fell in love and were married the same year.

Dezi received his draft notice in 1943, made it through boot camp with an injured knee, and was eventually classified for limited service. He found himself directing U.S.O. programs at a military hospital for 2 years. After that period he left the Army and formed another orchestra, which he kept on his payroll as long as he was a producer!

Lucy had a very successful radio show titled My Favorite Husband , which TV execs wanted to adapt to the new market. She insisted Dezi play her on air husband, but the idea of an interracial couple met with disapproval. So the couple formed a touring vaudeville act with the writters from her radio show, and a Spanish clown named Pepito Perez . The act went over very well, and much of the material developed in the act was later used on the I Love Lucy pilot. The couple formed Desilu Productions .

Desi and his cameraman, Karl Freund, developed a multi-camera production technique using adjacent sets, that are still the standard for today's sitcoms! He was also told it was impossible to film a TV show with a live audience. But he and Freund overcame all hurdles, and did in fact film I Love Lucy with a live audience present.

When network officials said filming the show was too expensive, and unnecessary, Dezi convinced them to let Desilu cover the added expences, with the stipulation that all rights to the film would be owned and controlled by Desilu. This first was probably one of the shrewdest business deals ever made in television! I Love Lucy has consistantly ran for over 57 years! With Desilu reaping the profits.

I Love Lucy was also the first TV show with a pregnant star and the pregnancy woven into the story line. When the TV big wigs balked at the idea, Dezi consulted a preist, a rabbi, and a protestant minister, who all agreed it was fine. The execs finally gave in, but would not allow the word "pregnant" in the script. The Ricky charater said "specting" with his Cuban accent.

Besides I Love Lucy, Dezi Arnaz produced, December Bride , The Mothers-In-Law , The Lucy Show, Those Whiting Girls , The Danny Thomas Show , The Andy Griffith Show , and the 1959 series, The Untouchables . Which were all in the top of their markets. He also produced the motion picture, Forever, Darling , starring the husband and wife team.

The couple had 2 children, but their marriage started to collapse under the strain of Dezi's serious problems with alcohol, drugs, and womanizing. In his memoir he said, the combined pressures of managing the production company and supervising its day-to-day operations had greatly worsened as it grew much larger. The couple divorced in 1960. When Ball returned to weekly television, she bought him out in Desilu. They managed to remain friends.

Desi married Edith Mack Hirsch, on March 2, 1963, and vastly slowed down his show business activities. He was executive producer of The Mothers-in-Law, and during its two-year run, made four guest appearances as a Spanish matador, Senor Delgado. Among other things, he also appeared on Saturday Night Live , in the 70s, and led the cast in a congo line.

Dezi Arnaz passed away from lung cancer on December 2, 1986. He was 69 years old. His body was cremated, and the ashes scattered.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Drummers







Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Desi Arnaz was pretty hot

    • RunAbstract profile imageAUTHOR

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      WillStarr, yes Sir! I love Lucy is still one of the TV shows that never seems to go out of style! Thanks for dropping by!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My daughter discovered 'I Love Lucy' just a few years ago, so I gave her several episodes for a Christmas present. It's still funny after all these years, even to a generation born decades later.

    • RunAbstract profile imageAUTHOR

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      William F. Torpey, I am so glad you dropped by, and thank you for the very nice comment!

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were very talented performers. I've read a bit about their history, but I learned a great deal from your hub, which I enjoyed very much.

    • RunAbstract profile imageAUTHOR

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      dahoglund, I never had the chance to hear the radio show with Lucy. But I would have liked too! I am very much a Lucy fan!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • RunAbstract profile imageAUTHOR

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      SUSIE DUZY, I am so glad you like this Hub. I appreciate you coming by for a read!

    • RunAbstract profile imageAUTHOR

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      Truckstop Sally, I still watch the I Love Lucy reruns and enjoy them as much as ever. I also really like The Long, Long Trailor, (motion picture) the couple starred in. They were a greatpair!

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I always liked the Lucy radio show, TV not so much.For me that is true of many radio shows.I was unaware of much of this about Desi Arnez.

    • SUSIE DUZY profile image

      SUSIE DUZY 

      7 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      I always love the "I Love Lucy" show. I am aware of the talends to Desi Arnez. Very much enjoyed this hub.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      7 years ago

      Enjoyed reading about the man behind Ricky. Just thinking about Ricky and Lucy makes me laugh. Wonder how they got "specting" with those twin beds. Ha! Love the line -- Lucy, you got some "splaining" to do!

    • RunAbstract profile imageAUTHOR

      RunAbstract 

      7 years ago from USA

      Sunny Barb, yes Dezi really was the brains behind the business of Desilu. And he and Lucy together were a great team! Really ahead of their time in many was. They broke some important barriers together!

      Thanks so much for dropping by!

    • Sunny Barb profile image

      Barbara Lease Walker 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      Really enjoyed this hub. I'm not sure if many really realized how much he was the brains behind "I Love Lucy." Very informative and very much enjoyed the photos. Voted up!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)