Latin Roots/Yankee Roots
Desiderio Alberto Arnaz III, y de Acha was born into a prominent family in Santiago de Cuba, but when the family’s fortunes were dramatically reversed by the Batista Revolution in 1933, Arnaz immigrated to Florida the following year. After performing for a time with a rumba band in Miami and with the famed Xavier Cugat Orchestra in New York, Arnaz got his first big break in 1939 when, at age twenty-two, he was cast on Broadway in Rodgers and Hart’s Too Many Girls. The following year he was signed to repeat his role in the film version of the musical, which costarred Lucille Ball.
Lucille Desirée Ball’s origins were less patrician. She was born in Jamestown, New York; her mother was a pianist and her father, a telephone lineman. An avid performer from early childhood, she enrolled in drama school in New York City at age seventeen, but failed to impress the instructors. After working as a waitress and fashion model, and, occasionally, as a Broadway chorus girl, she was hired to appear as a Goldwyn Girl in the 1933 film Roman Scandals. Some forty more films followed during the next six years, before she met Desi Arnaz, shortly after his arrival at the RKO studios. They were married on November 30, 1940.
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