|Desi Arnaz Jr.|
Desi Arnaz Jr. 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, which was considered daring then. The same day Lucy gave birth to Desi Jr., the fictional Lucy Ricardo gave birth to "Little Ricky". As a testament to how interested the American public was in Lucy's TV baby, Arnaz 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 1974, Arnaz played the title role in the Western movie Billy Two Hats with Gregory Peck. In 1976, he appeared on two episodes of the television series, The Streets of San Francisco. Arnaz also appeared 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.
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's acting extended into the late 1980s with various appearances on television, and a leading role in the series Automan, which ran from 1983 to 1984.
In 1992, He played his father in the movie The Mambo Kings, based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, that he felt 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 1997, Arnaz purchased the Boulder Theatre and brought it back to life after being on the brink of extinction.
Between 1998 and 2010, he was touring with a new configuration of Dino, Desi & Billy called Ricci, Desi & Billy, featuring Arnaz 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.
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 center.
In 2007, Arnaz appeared at the 5th Annual TV Land Awards with his sister Lucie to accept the Legacy of Laughter award posthumously given to their mother.
Arnaz has a daughter, Julia Arnaz, from an undisclosed relationship.
Arnaz dated actress Patty Duke when he was 17 and she was 23. 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, although genetic tests later revealed that Tell was his father. He said, "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." (Michael Pearce, Duke's husband after Astin, was his step-father)
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.
Desi's wife Amy died January 23, 2015, at age 63 after a long battle with cancer. Both Desi and Amy were students of Vernon Howard and attended meetings of Vernon's New Life Foundation in Boulder City.
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