Desi Arnaz (March 2, 1917 – December 2, 1986) was a Cuban-born American musician, actor and television producer. While he gained international renown for leading a Latin music band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, he is best known for his role as Ricky Ricardo on the classic American TV series I Love Lucy, starring with Lucille Ball, to whom he was married at the time.
Desi Arnaz was born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III in Santiago de Cuba to Desiderio Alberto Arnaz (1894–1973) and his wife Dolores de Acha (1896–1988). His father was Santiago's youngest mayor and also served in the Cuban House of Representatives. His mother's father was Alberto de Acha, one of the three founders of Bacardi Rum. According to Arnaz himself, in his autobiography A Book (1976), the family owned three ranches, a palatial home, and a vacation mansion on a private island in Santiago Bay, Cuba. Following the 1933 revolution, led by Fulgencio Batista, which overthrew President Gerardo Machado, Alberto Arnaz was jailed and all of his property was confiscated. He was released after six months when U.S. officials, who believed him to be neutral, intervened on his behalf. The family then fled to Miami, Florida, where Desi attended parochial high school with the son of Al Capone.
In the US Desi Arnaz turned to show business to support himself. In 1939, he starred on Broadway in the musical Too Many Girls. He went to Hollywood the next year to appear in the show's movie version at RKO, which starred Lucille Ball. Arnaz and Ball married on November 30, 1940. Arnaz also played guitar for Xavier Cugat.