|Desi Arnaz Jr.|
Arnaz in 1974
|Born||Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV
January 19, 1953
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Relatives||Lucie Arnaz (sister)
Fred Ball (maternal uncle)
Desiderio Alberto Arnaz II (paternal grandfather)
His birth was one of the most publicized in television history. His parents were the stars of the television sitcom I Love Lucy, and Ball's pregnancy was part of the storyline, considered daring in those times. The same day Lucy gave birth to Desi Jr., the fictional Lucy Ricardo gave birth to "Little Ricky". Little Ricky as a baby was played by two sets of twins, Richard and Ronald Lee Simmons (1953–1954), followed by Joseph and Michael Mayer (1954–1955). A child actor (and drummer) Keith Thibodeaux (using the stage name Little Ricky) was later cast to play 6-year-old Ricky Ricardo Jr. To shield him from the effects of too much publicity, everything was centered around the fictional baby, Little Ricky Ricardo. As a testament to how interested the American public was in Lucy's TV baby, Desi Arnaz Jr. appeared on the cover on the very first issue of TV Guide with a title that read: "Lucy's $50,000,000 baby." The reason he was given this title was because revenue from certain tie-in commitments were expected to top that mark.
At age 12, Arnaz was a drummer with Dino, Desi, & Billy. The others were Dean Paul Martin (son of Dean Martin) and Billy Hinsche. The band scored two hit singles with "I'm a Fool" and "Not The Lovin' Kind" in 1965. In 1968, he and his sister Lucie played opposite their mother in Here's Lucy as her children. In 1970, Arnaz appeared on The Brady Bunch episode "The Possible Dream". In 1974 he played the title role in the Western movie Billy Two Hats with Gregory Peck. In 1977, he was the lead in the film Joyride opposite fellow children of famous actors Melanie Griffith, Robert Carradine, and Anne Lockhart. Arnaz attended University High School in West Los Angeles.
Arnaz Jr.'s acting extended into the 1980s with TV productions and a leading role in Automan. He played his father in the movie The Mambo Kings (1992), based on a Pulitzer Prize novel that treated his father with respect. The film includes a scene in which Desi Jr., playing his father's character Ricky Ricardo, acts opposite his mother as Lucy Ricardo with film from the TV series intercut with the cast. In a 1976 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by both Desi Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr., the younger Arnaz played Ricky Ricardo and Gilda Radner played Lucy in spoofs of supposed ill-fated pilots for I Love Lucy.
From about 2002 to 2007, he was vice-president of the board of Directors of the Lucille Ball–Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, New York. He resigned over a dispute with the executive director over the direction of the center.
In 2007, Desi appeared at the 5th Annual TV Land Awards with his sister Lucie to accept the Legacy of Laughter award posthumously given to their mother.
Between 1998 and 2010, he was touring with a new configuration of Dino, Desi & Billy called Ricci, Desi & Billy, featuring Arnaz Jr. reunited with Billy Hinsche, and joined by Ricci Martin (youngest son of Dean Martin). The group performs original material as well as the songs the original band performed.
On October 15, 2011, Arnaz performed in Babalu[disambiguation needed] at the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress. The performance was in conjunction with the Library's Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Collection.
Arnaz has a daughter, Julia Arnaz, from an undisclosed relationship.
At 17 he was dating actress Patty Duke, who was 23 at the time. The relationship became tabloid news and his mother did not approve of them together. After they broke up, writer and music producer Michael Tell offered to marry Duke as a way out of the scandal. Their marriage lasted only 13 days, and when Duke became pregnant, she would later tell her son, Sean Astin, that Arnaz was his biological father. Arnaz and Astin developed a close relationship, and although genetic tests later revealed Tell to be Astin's actual biological father, Astin remains close with Arnaz and Tell, as well as the father who raised him, John Astin, and his mother's fourth husband, Mike Pearce, saying, "I can call any of them on the phone any time I want to," says Sean. "John, Desi, Mike or Papa Mike...my four dads."
Arnaz was married to actress Linda Purl from 1980 until their divorce in 1981. On October 8, 1987, Arnaz married Amy Laura Bargiel. They lived in Boulder City, Nevada with their daughter, and own the Boulder Theatre, a cinema converted into a theatre and home to the Boulder City Ballet Company.
Amy died January 23, 2015, at the age of 63 from a long battle with cancer. Desi Arnaz Jr.'s Facebook page helped carry the announcement to the fans by the Arnaz family.
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