Forget Lucy … We Love Desi

Long before there was Pitbull, there was the original “Mr. 305.” Desi Arnaz is Miami’s most famous Cuban entertainer of the 20th century, best known for his portrayal of Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy.” On screen, he played a struggling band musician. Off screen, he was the epitome of hard work.

Desi Arnaz was born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III on March 2, 1917, in Santiago, Cuba. His family was wealthy—his father was a member of the Cuban House of Representatives and his grandfather was an executive at Bacardi Rum. After the 1933 revolt that brought Fulgencio Batista to power, his family fled to Miami. Arnaz attended St. Patrick Catholic High School and Saint Leo Prep (near Tampa) to help improve his English, and also spent a year at Miami High, before going into show business to support himself.

His music career began in 1936 when he joined the Siboney Septet as a guitar player. The group played at the Roney Plaza on Miami Beach, where famous bandleader Xavier Cugat recruited Arnaz to join his orchestra. His big break came when he was cast in the Broadway show “Too Many Girls” in 1939, which led to his first film role in the movie adaptation of the stage show. In the early 1940s, he returned to Miami with his own band and introduced the conga line to American audiences before he took on his most enduring role: the on-screen husband of his real-life wife, Lucille Ball. “I Love Lucy” ran on CBS from 1951 to 1957 and continued as a series of specials through 1960.

“I Love Lucy” elevated Arnaz to a level of stardom and success many people admired for years. His iconic character helped make the show one of America’s all-time favorites. At about the same time, Arnaz and Ball founded Desilu Productions, which produced “Star Trek,” “The Untouchables,” “Mission: Impossible,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and other shows from 1950 to 1967. Its roster also included “I Love Lucy,” for which it retained ownership rights. That meant Desilu, and not CBS, controlled the rights to syndication-—where the show lives on today.

At the center of it all: Arnaz, a successful entertainer and businessman.

Arnaz, who died in 1986, was a man of many talents, leading a professional life that proved to the world that any determined, hard-working individual can thrive—even in show business. 

You May Also Like

Mayor Suarez’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Why the telegenic mayor of Miami shouldn’t have gotten out of bed. It has to do with Ken Griffin.

SMART Program Highlights Collaboration Between Broward Public School District and Local Businesses

Broward voters approved The funding through a bond referendum in November 2014.

CBRE Analysis Reveals Growth in Life Sciences Research Talent in South Florida

Miami/Fort Lauderdale ranks among the top 25 U.S. life sciences labor markets.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Palm Beach County Hosts Kickoff Party for CEO Build 2023

Participants can learn ways to get involved as a CEO Builder or Corporate Sponsor.

Other Posts

South Florida Manufacturers Association Holds 63rd Annual Meeting and Made in South Florida Showcase

The organization is the region’s leading resource for manufacturing companies.

Breaking News: Lifestyle Media Group is Honored by the FMA at the Charlie Awards

South Florida Business & Wealth and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Win First-Place Awards.

The Success of a Region Is Signaled by One Data Point at a Time

A letter from Editor-in-Chief Drew Limsky.

Denise Rubin to Feature Exclusive Real Estate Listing on TV

Rubin has sold an array of multi-million dollar homes and condos in the South Florida market.

Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.