‘I Love Lucy’: How Desi Arnaz and His Family ‘Lost Everything’–’Their Livestock Was Killed, Their Pets Were Slaughtered’

by Jeremy Spirogis
Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo in the I LOVE LUCY episode, "Lucy Becomes a Sculptress."

Many individuals know Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy, the place he starred reverse his then-wife, Lucille Ball. But who was Arnaz earlier than he received to Hollywood? According to his daughter, Lucie Arnaz, he had a really completely different life again in Cuba, and his journey to get to Hollywood got here with many twists and turns.

Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo in the I LOVE LUCY episode, "Lucy Becomes a Sculptress."
Desi Arnaz | CBS by way of Getty Images

Desi Arnaz’s life in Cuba

In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Lucie Arnaz spoke about her father’s childhood and upbringing in Santiago de Cuba.

“My dad was born in Santiago, Cuba in 1917,” she started. “And his father was the mayor of the town. His uncle was the chief of police. His mother’s family were the early founders of the Bacardi Rum Company. So he’d say, ‘They had that town pretty well wrapped up.’”

But every little thing modified when the Batista revolution occurred.

“The Batista revolution came in and overthrew the Machado administration, which his father was in,” she mentioned. “They lost everything. They lost their homes, their livestock was killed, their pets were slaughtered, they crushed and burned the piano and all the family photos.”

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As a result, younger Desi and his household have been compelled to enter hiding or transfer away.

“My grandmother, his mother, hid with relatives,” mentioned Lucie. “And my dad and his father escaped, with nothing, to Miami, where they had to start over again basically from scratch. And he lived in Miami in a warehouse with Grandpa. And he killed rats with a bat, he said. It was rough. And he cleaned canary cages there for a while for a living.”

After cleansing canary cages for a time, Desi’s father advised him he ought to go attempt to make some cash as a musician.

“Eventually, Grandpa said, ‘OK, OK, OK, I know you play the guitar… I wanted you to be a doctor, lawyer, somebody who could fend for himself, but I guess you’re going to have to go get a job as a musician.’ So Dad got a musician’s job in a local band.”

Desi Arnaz’s large break

That’s when issues began trying up. After Desi joined a neighborhood band, he was found by Xavier Cugat.

“They flew him to New York, and then he left Cugat and got a small band of his own down in Miami and actually introduced the conga dance to the United States out of desperation one night,” mentioned Lucie. “That really was his ticket. He became quite famous for that and playing the conga drum and doing this conga dance, the conga line.”

By the time Desi received again to New York, there was a membership named after the dance he’d launched.

Lucille Ball and Desi ArnazLucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz | Archive Photos/Getty Images

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“They named a membership, La Conga, after him. And he was taking part in at La Conga in New York when Rodgers and Hart found him, and George Abbott requested him to be in a Broadway present known as Too Many Girls, which ended up being the story of his life I feel in a while,” Lucie mentioned with amusing. “And it opened at the Imperial Theatre in New York in 1939.”

After the Broadway rendition of Too Many Girls, the present went to Hollywood to be made into a movie. That’s the place Desi met Lucille Ball.

“It was in Hollywood where he met my mother who was cast to play the ingenue in the movie,” mentioned Lucie.

And the remainder, as they are saying, is historical past.

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