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Lucy & Desi Arnaz
March 2

By Sarah Lane
Jan 21, 2008, 17:20 PST

Desi Arnez 1917-

Lucy & Desi


Desi Arnaz 1917-1986

Since March 2nd is Desi Arnaz's birthday, we decided to take a peek at some of the amazing breakthroughs both he and Lucille Ball made in situational comedy.  As the first television program to have a child born as part of the plot, "I Love Lucy" traversed uncharted territory and succeeded.  Its success was mainly a result of the business head of Desi Arnaz combined with the comedic talent of Lucille Ball.  Together they created history, but their individual talents were very obvious.


When he was only 16, Arnaz moved to the states from Cuba with his mother.  This was during a time of much political unrest in Cuba.  The two fled to Florida taking very little with them.  Arnaz took odd jobs to make ends meet such as cleaning birdcages and selling fruit.  When his father joined them six months later, he was able to use some of his Cuban connections to secure his son an audition with the "Siboney Septet".  They were impressed but required Arnaz to complete high school before allowing him to join the Xavier Cugat Orchestra.  Soon after touring, he would take a lead roll in the Broadway musical, "Too Many Girls" and his talent would be widely recognized.


Perhaps the most memorable contribution to television history came when Arnaz and his wife Lucille Ball starred together in their own series, "I Love Lucy."  The show debuted on October 15th, 1951 and continued until 1956.  Desi and Lucy divorced shortly after the show ended and Arnaz soon married Edie Mack.  They were together until her death.  Arnaz served as an Ambassador to Latin America under President Richard M. Nixon, and his autobiography "A Book" was a New York Times Bestseller.  Desi Arnaz died of lung cancer on December 2nd, 1986.  He will be remembered for his musical and acting talents and for his keen sense of business.

Source:     Internet Obituary Network  


Additional Learning Links for Desi Arnaz


Desi Arnaz Tribute Page

This page has a brief biography of Arnaz, a photo gallery, a filmography section, and links to other related sites.

Source:             An AmSon Production

Reading Level:   Moderate


Solid! Desi Arnaz 

Visit this online encyclopedia of lounge, big band, classic jazz, and space-age sounds.  This particular page is centered on Arnaz and his work as an entertainer. 

Source:              Parabrisas 2002

Reading Level:  Moderate Obituary Network

This in-depth look at Desi Arnaz relates his many important contributions to the music and film industry.  Towards the end of the page you'll find a list of suggested books for further reading.

Source:              Internet Obituary Network

Reading Level:  Hard G-Files: Desi Arnaz

Here you'll find history, newspaper clippings, FBI files, letters, memos, and reports related to Arnaz's show, "The Untouchables."  According to the FBI, the show portrayed agents in a not-so-pleasant light.

Source:              APB Multimedia Incorporated

Reading Level:   Adult


Lucille Ball 1911-1989


Everyone loves Lucy.  Well, not everyone but pretty close.  Born on August 6th, 1911 in Celoron, New York, this snappy little red head lays claim to the titles of television comedienne, producer, and actress.  Her first movie roll was a chorus girl in "Roman Scandals" in 1934.  After appearing in over 60 films, Ball played a crazy wife to a serious banker for the CBS radio program, "My Favorite Husband."  After four years CBS proposed the idea of changing the show to television.  Ball would only do it if her real-life husband Desi Arnaz played her TV husband. 


The members of CBS were skeptical about a red head housewife and Cuban bandleader as a believable couple, but the show was an overnight success.  Lucy was funny, sexy, and won the world over with her crazy schemes.  Ball continued filming during her pregnancy and the public kept a close eye on the impending birth.  Over 44 million people watched as Lucy "gave birth" to Little Ricky.  Coincidentally the day this particular episode aired, Ball gave birth to a baby boy who she named Desi Jr. 


In 1960, Ball and Arnaz ended their 20 years of marriage with divorce.  By 1967, Ball sold Desilu Productions for 17 million dollars making 10 million dollars on the deal.  Ball and her new husband Gary Morton then formed Lucille Ball Productions.  In 1989, Ball underwent open-heart surgery and a week later, died of a ruptured aorta.  She was 77 years old but the public will always remember her during the prime of her life as vivacious and hilarious.

Source:     A & E Productions


Additional Learning Links for Lucille Ball


Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc

This site allows you to access over 200,000 biographies including this page all about Lucille Ball.

Source:             A&E Television Networks

Reading Level:   Moderate


Lucy Library

Devoted entirely to the ultimate Lucy fan, this site has an episode guide, photo archives, new releases, Lucy music, a television schedule, and more.

Source:              CBS Worldwide Incorporated

Reading Level:  Easy


The Lucille Ball File

Check the Lucy News flash, updates, movies, radio, television, awards, library, audio, or schedules for upcoming events, all associated with Lucille Ball.

Source:             Ted Nesi & Individual Owners of Content

Reading Level:   Moderate


Lucille Ball's Hollywood

This is a list of L.A. locations related to Lucy's life and death.  Find out where she lived, worked, died, and was buried.

Source:             Gary J. Wayne

Reading Level:   Easy


Time 100: Artist & Entertainers

Read this commentary by Richard Zoglin about the life, love, and laughter of Lucille Ball.  Check out the sidebar for quick facts.

Source:             Time, Inc.

Reading Level:    Hard 


I Love Lucy


Facts about the Show and the 1950's


In 1952 the show reached ten million viewers.


In 1953, with the birth of Little Ricky, the show reached 44 million viewers breaking the record it had previously set.


"I Love Lucy" aired for six years and was never less than 3rd in the Nielsen ratings.  For four years it was number one.


The show won over 200 awards and received five Emmy's.


In 1989, when Lucille Ball passed away, "I Love Lucy" was still in syndication in more than 80 countries.


Even though Ball could sing rather well, her acting skills became obvious when she would purposely sing off key creating laughter from the audience.


While the show was airing in 1952, Franklin National Bank in Franklin Square, New York issued the very first bank credit card.


The fifties were a time of revolutionary ideas including the creation of fast-food chains.  McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Jack-in-the-Box all opened for business in the 1950's.


The T.V. dinner was created in 1952, out of necessity by Swanson & Sons.  They had to do something with 270 tons of leftover Thanksgiving turkey!


Additional Learning Links for I Love Lucy




I Love Lucy's 50th Show

Developed as a tribute to the show that hasn't been off the air since October 15th, 1951, this site is the ultimate experience for fans.  Use the creative "I Love Lucy" site navigator to connect with Lucy and Ricky, The Mertzes, Screen Savers, Fun Facts, Retromercials, sights and sounds of the show, and a guide to the 50th Anniversary Tour.

Source:             TV Land

Reading Level:   Moderate


All About Lucy: Webzine for Lucy Fans

This comprehensive website has a photo of the week, recent articles about the show or its actors, letters from Lucy fans, Lucie and Desi Jr. updates, views, reviews, and lots more.  Check the section "In Loving Memory" for people associated with the show.  Locate historical photos, articles of interest, art related to the show, electric magazines, and book links.


Reading Level:  Moderate


The Lucille Ball Family Website

Created by Coburn Design and presented by the family of Lucille Ball, this site keeps you up to date on the events surrounding the 50th Anniversary of "I Love Lucy".  There is an interactive tour section, CBS special, and plenty of Lucy Links.

Source:              The Lucille Ball Family

Reading Level:  Hard

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