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Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Desi! [5 Things I Love]

So, you may or may not know that today would've been Desi Arnaz's 95th birthday.

Desi has is a very controversial subject to many; a lot of people don't like him because there was a womanizing and drinking in his marriage with Lucy. So much so that it overrides what Lucy and Desi's relationship really was: perhaps one a little unstable, but a love that really was forever. And since Lucy was the star of the show, people never really give Desi credit for the things he did for the show, and he did so much. True Lucy fans love him because we know that Lucy did, and Lucy wanted him to be appreciated, and most of all, that Lucy loved him a lot.

Therefore, here's five things I love most about Desi :)

Happy birthday, Desi!
·      "We all know that Lucille Ball was the great female comic genius of the twentieth century, and that their show, I Love Lucy, which in my opinion is the most important television show ever produced, was a perfect showcase for her tremendous talent. What we don't often appreciate is that Desi was the man who understand her talent and knew exactly how to spotlight it; if I Love Lucy made history, it was especially because of Desi's genius as a producer. The television we watch to this day is based on a format he created to help his wife be her very best. The three cameras, the filming instead of going live in New York, the studio audience, the concept of reruns - all of it show Lucy into the stratosphere. All of it shaped the next sixty years of television production. Practically all of it was his idea. All if it exploded a system that even the studios hadn't fully appreciated, but he did.

All of it born from this Cuban man, being so totally Cuban that he sang songs in Spanish every week on national television (another breakthrough with huge impact: say thank you, Gloria Estefan and Shakira) this Cuban man that was told people wouldn't buy him with an American wife (never mind they'd been married for years), this Cuban man invented the sitcom as we know it. All of it stemmed from the love of one man for one woman, putting truth to the very statement that I Love Lucy was never just a title. Aren't we lucky that it happened? Aren't we lucky that it was true?" 

- Raul Esparza

#5: The accent.
Honestly, who cannot love that accent? The "dun't"s  - don't - and the "thin"s - things - all of it! So much so that a lot of Ricky Ricardo speak filters into my everyday speak. I say "dun't" all the time now and people don't even comment on it anymore, I honestly think they expect it. ;) Anyway, I'm a big fan of pretty voices ( *COUGH* Greer) and best of all accents (*COUGH* Ingrid), and Desi's voice is such a wonderful mix of that. 

#4: The music.
I think the most famous song of his would have to be "Babalu", obviously, but those avid Lucy watchers will remember a lot more. I have oftentimes listened the Lucy is Enciente episode as my favorite, because of the moment in the end where Lucy and Desi's real tears came through. Another thing that made that part so sweet was Desi's rendition of We're Having a Baby - My Baby and Me. It's adorable, and I know all the lyrics. And if you think about it, and pay attention to the club numbers on the show, there are a lot of really good routines. Like "Jezebel" from Lucy is Jealous of Girl Dancer and "The Waters of Minnetonka" from The Indian Show. I think my personal favorite would have to be one that wasn't sung on the Lucy show - at least, not more than a few bars of it ; it's the main theme from Forever Darling (1956), entitled, appropriately, "Forever Darling." It's lacking Desi's usual latin tunes, but it's still a wonderful, sweet song I think.

#3: His relationship with his kids.
Both Lucy and Desi wanted to have kids desperately, but it took a long time for it to happen to them. Lucy suffered five miscarriages. When they finally did have children, they were blessed with two: Little Lucie and Desi, Jr. (1951, 1953, respectively). When I was watching the home movies, Lucie and Desi, Jr. talked about what it was lying having two parents who were wonderful people, but didn't get to be around home as much, or, if they were around, were fighting. They also admitted that Lucy's mothering instincts didn't come as easy to her, probably because she had grown up a lot without her mother. (Lucy's mom, Dede, was a wonderful woman but since Lucy's dad died when she was four, Dede was gone a lot, holding down jobs and working. Dede was, however, there for Lucy a lot in the second half of her life). Desi, though, was a very fun father, they said. Desi, Jr. described him as the type of guy who was in awe with everything, and wonder at the beauty of nature - the type of guy who would point out the sunset and say, "God really outdid himself tonight." Despite what others say, Lucie and Desi, Jr. always talk very fondly of their dad, and I think that really says something about him. (Not to say Lucy wasn't a good mother. I'm sure she really, really was. And I could never say something bad about my dear like that!).

#2: His business smarts.
As the quote back up there really proves, Desi was the brain behind I Love Lucy. He really did sit up the sitcom as we know it today: the studio audience, the three camera technique, the rerun. Lucy might have been the star on the screen, but Desi really did put his all into being president of Desilu Studios. Lucy once told Carol Burnett that when she was "married to the Cuban" she "never had to worry about a thing" because Desi was "so damn smart about everything." And he really was, and out of everything, I think this is the ultimate thing he never got enough credit for. He seriously built up the format for how to film a sitcom. On an episode of I've Got a Secret on which Lucy and Desi were making an appearance, Lucy was reading a scripted intro for Desi, part of which described him as a "great producer." Lucy cut away from her script and daringly added, with a wink, "If you don't believe it, I have two little Arnazes at home to prove it!" ;) He truly was one of the best producers, though.

#1: His love for Lucy.
I've talked about this a billion times, and every time I do, I get caught up in the feelings that are all Desilu! Despite the drinking and the womanizing and the other issues, they still had an incredible love for one another. I think to be able to love each other as much as they did - even after the divorce - despite all the obstacles they faced is truly incredible. Desi's infidelities are often credited to the way he grew up; that love and sex are two different things and little things here and there don't matter. It was sad that it had to be this way, and it's what ultimately broke them apart, but above all their love was an incredible thing. He did love her a lot. As the quote says, I Love Lucy came out of Desi's love for Lucy. So even though things weren't always smooth sailing for these two, he wasn't kidding when he said, "I Love Lucy was never just a title." He loved her a lot.


Well, that's it for today! I hope you had/have a lovely day and happy birthday to Desi :)


Evy said...

Crying for all eternity. Perfection's got names. Desi Arnaz and Rianna.

Dani said...

He was a very charming man and his voice was so beautiful. I really like the "cuban cabby" number he did on the show.
Do you know how to pronounce his name? Is it "deci" or "dezi"?

R.A. Kerr said...

You make some very good points. I never really appreciated his talents as producer before. Thanks for this post!

Rianna said...

You are too kind <3

Rianna said...

Desi was really a charmer :)
The way everyone seems to pronounce it is "Dezi," BUT the way Lucy always seemed to say it was "Deci"; so I always say it that way ;) Besides it sounds nicer that way.

Rianna said...

Thanks, I'm glad you discovered his talents as a producer!

The Cat Hag said...

They definitely shared a great love. :)

The Cat Hag

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Anonymous said...

Hey Rianna. I love your blog, being a diehard Lucy fan myself at fourteen. Awesome article. And I love some of the points you make. Also, Forever, Darling is my favorite Desi Arnaz song too. Is it 'Arnahz' or 'Arnez', by the way? I have a long-standing bet with my best friend, who is also a Lucy fan, about this.

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