Desi Arnaz Jr.

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Desi Arnaz Jr.
Arnaz Jr. during filming of The Streets of San Francisco in 1976
Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV

(1953-01-19) January 19, 1953 (age 71)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Actor
  • musician
Years active1957–2012
  • (m. 1979; div. 1980)
  • Amy Laura Bargiel
    (m. 1987; died 2015)

Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV (born January 19, 1953), better known as Desi Arnaz Jr., is an American retired actor and musician. He is the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Early life[edit]

Arnaz was born on January 19, 1953, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles.[1] His older sister is actress Lucie Arnaz, who was born in 1951.

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 story line, which was considered daring in 1952. The same day Ball 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 of the very first issue of TV Guide with the headline "Lucy's $50,000,000 baby", ($573,684,211 in 2023 dollars)[2] because revenue from advertising tie-ins was expected to top that mark.[3] Actor Richard Keith (a.k.a. Keith Thibodeaux) later portrayed "Little Ricky" in the TV series; Keith spent much time with Lucie and Desi Jr. in childhood and became close friends with the family, teaching Desi Jr. how to play drums.[4]

Arnaz attended University High School in West Los Angeles.


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.[5]


From 1968 to 1974, Desi Arnaz and his sister Lucie co-starred opposite their mother in Here's Lucy as her children. In 1968, he had a guest-starring role as Jerry and Suzie's drum-playing friend Tommy in the episode, "The Hombre Who Came to Dinner: Part 2", from the show The Mothers-in-Law, executive-produced and directed by his father. In 1970, he appeared on The Brady Bunch episode "The Possible Dream". He starred in the tearjerker movie Red Sky at Morning in 1971 with Richard Thomas, Richard Crenna and Claire Bloom. His best chance at enduring Hollywood fame came in 1973, when he played the title role in the film Marco, a musical about the life of adventurer Marco Polo. However, like most Hollywood musicals of that period, it failed to register at the box office.

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 (SNL) hosted by both Desi Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr.. The younger Arnaz played Ricky Ricardo while 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'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.

Arnaz, his mother Lucille Ball, and his sister Lucie in Here's Lucy, 1968.
Desi Arnaz and Arnaz on the television special California, My Way, 1974.
Boulder Theatre

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.[6]


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 performed original material as well as the songs the original band performed.[7]

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.[8][9]

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 also headlined Babalu: A Celebration of the Music of Desi Arnaz and his Orchestra with Lucie Arnaz, Raul Esparza, and Valarie Pettiford.[10]

On October 15, 2011, Arnaz performed in Babalu at the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress. The performance was in conjunction with the Library's Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Collection.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Arnaz has a daughter, Julia Arnaz, from a relationship with model Susan Callahan-Howe in 1968 when they were both 15 years old; Julia's relationship to Desi Jr. was proven by a paternity test in 1991.[12]

Arnaz dated actress Patty Duke when he was 17 and she was 23. He accompanied Duke to the 1970 Emmy Awards ceremony where she won the Emmy for Outstanding Single Performance. The relationship became tabloid news and his mother did not approve of them together, and Duke became pregnant. After they broke up, writer and music producer Michael Tell offered to marry Duke as a way out of the scandal. Their marriage lasted 13 days, and Duke later told 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 biological father. Astin responded to press inquires

"I can call any of them on the phone any time I want to ... John, Desi, Mike, or Papa Mike ... my four dads."[13]

(Sean Astin's step-father was Michael Pearce, Patty Duke's husband after John Astin.)

Arnaz was subsequently involved with entertainer Liza Minnelli, another relationship of which his mother disapproved; Ball thought that the singer-actress was too old for her son and, because of Minnelli's perceived reckless lifestyle, not a good influence upon him. In May 1972, Arnaz announced his engagement to Minnelli.[14] He accompanied her to the Academy Awards ceremony in March 1973 when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.[5] While in London, Minnelli ended their engagement, to be with comedian Peter Sellers in May 1973.[15]

Arnaz married actress Linda Purl in 1979.[16] On January 3, 1980, Purl filed for divorce, which was finalized later that year.[17] On October 8, 1987, Arnaz married Amy Laura Bargiel.[18] The couple lived in Boulder City, Nevada, with their daughter, Haley.[19] In 1997, Arnaz purchased the Boulder Theatre in town and restored it, when it had been on the brink of ruin. After its conversion to a theatre, the cinema became the home of the Boulder City Ballet Company.

Desi's wife Amy died of cancer in 2015, at age 63.[20] Both Desi and Amy were followers of Vernon Howard and attended meetings of Howard's 'New Life Foundation' in Boulder City.[21] They also followed and have supported the spiritual writer Guy Finley (also one of Vernon Howard's students) and his Life of Learning Center for Spiritual Discovery.

Arnaz's granddaughter Desiree S. Anzalone (daughter of Julia), a photographer, died from breast cancer on September 27, 2020, at age 31, six years after it was first diagnosed.[22][23]



  1. ^ Monush, Barry (June 1, 2011). Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America's Favorite Redhead. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-55783-940-4.
  2. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  3. ^ Andrews, Bart (1976). Lucy and Ricky and Fred and Ethel. Toronto and Vancouver: Clarke, Irvin & Company Limited. p. 81.
  4. ^ Lucie Arnaz on "I Love Lucy", video interview, (5:35), retrieved August 3, 2019
  5. ^ a b "Two "houses" of Hollywood Royalty: Judy & Lucy's Kids Got Serious". The Vintage News. April 29, 2019. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  6. ^ Castro, Danilo (March 2, 2019). "Desi Arnaz: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Ricci, Desi & Billy Archived July 17, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Fanelli, P. (2007), "Lucie, Desi Jr. Depart with Clark, Rapaport; Spots Filled with Locals", Jamestown Post–Journal (5 December) Archived September 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "". Archived from the original on August 18, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2008.
  10. ^ "Review-Desi Arnaz tribute 'Babalu' sizzles at the Arsht". Miami Herald. Associated Press. July 9, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010.[dead link]
  11. ^ Library of Congress Announces 2011-2012 Concert Season
  12. ^ "Angela Carella: A clue in claim of 'lost' Lucy granddaughter". Stamford Advocate (online ed.). Stamford, CT. September 13, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  13. ^ "Sean Astin's childhood with Patty Duke". ABC News ( July 31, 2004.
  14. ^ "Desi tells plans to wed". The Los Angeles Times. May 20, 1972. p. 35.
  15. ^ "Liza, in love with Peter Sellers, calls off engagement to Desi Jr". The Buffalo News. Buffalo, NY. May 22, 1973. p. 1.
  16. ^ Kanfer, Stefan (2007). Ball of Fire: The tumultuous life and comic art of Lucille Ball. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 290. ISBN 978-030-742491-4. Desi Jr. had married an aspiring actress, Linda Purl, in 1979. ... A year later, Desi Jr. and Linda divorced.
  17. ^ Harris, Warren G. (1991). Lucy & Desi: The legendary love story of television's most famous couple. Simon & Schuster. p. 595. ISBN 978-067174709-1. ... lasted a few days short of one year. Linda filed for divorce on January 3, 1980.
  18. ^ Nevada Marriage Index, 1956–2005. (on-line database). Provo, UT.
  19. ^ "Boulder Theatre". Boulder City, NV.
  20. ^ "Lucille Ball's daughter-in-law, Amy Arnaz, dead at 63". Exclusive. (obituary). Archived from the original on January 28, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  21. ^ Chawkins, Steve (May 5, 1988). "New age prophet offers mystic road map to inner bliss". The Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  22. ^ Gifford, Storm (October 9, 2020). "Lucille Ball's great-granddaughter Desiree Anzalone dead from breast cancer at [age] 31". The New York Daily News (obituary). Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  23. ^ Stone, Natalie (October 9, 2020). "Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's great-granddaughter Desiree S. Anzalone dies of breast cancer at age 31". People (obituary). Retrieved October 10, 2020.

External links[edit]