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AARP article for Desi's 100th


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This is an AARP article originally printed in Spanish, so some of the he and she's didn't translate too well. I think you can figure it out.




Lucie Arnaz: "My dad never lost his cubanity"



The daughter of Desi Arnaz recalls the artistic and personal legacy of her father.

By Ernesto Lechner , AARP , March 1, 2017

AARP celebrates the legacy of the artist with a look at his career as a television pioneer.

ComparIt was years of reflection that allowed Lucie Désirée Arnaz to deal with all the ramifications of being the daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, one of the mythological couples of the entertainment industry. At age 65, the actress, singer and producer has made peace with the darker side of her past. She has found joy and creativity in the Cuban identity of her father, a sensitivity that marked her forever. In a moment as special as the centennial of Desi Arnaz , Lucie Arnaz spoke exclusively with AARP in Spanish about the legacy of an unforgettable father.



How could he process the fact that his parents were the two legends called Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz?

If I ever write my autobiography, that will be the thesis question. It is a good question, an immense question. I continue processing it through my life, at different levels, because when I was a girl I did not even notice. It's like growing up in a palace, or a concentration camp. You can choose the metaphor you prefer. You do not realize it, think maybe all other people live like this.

The only tangible difference was knowing that my parents were not available because they had to attend special events. Then, when at school there was a dance for the daughters and their parents, I went with Uncle Kenny, who was available. Or if there was a school lunch, my grandmother would come instead of my mother.


Later, I tried to form my own family and I had to deal with the confluence of the celebrity that descends on her. By itself it is difficult when there is a divorce, alcoholism, working parents. Fame adds an additional layer, as if it were a magnifying glass.


And the Cuban influence? Was it perceived in the daily life of his father?

Beyond recording an album called Latin Roots , in several of my shows over time I have elaborated the same story: how it was to grow up with a Latin American father. Until the divorce of my parents, we lived a Cuban existence. We celebrated Christmas on January 6 and instead of turkey there was an imposing roasted piglet. The celebrations at home were parties with live music.

My dad said he was very proud of being an American, but he never lost his Cubanity. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to visit the island, but I always had the feeling of knowing clearly what my people were like. My father never complained about everything he lost with the revolution, which was a lot. He came to America, started from scratch and never looked back. And he sang the songs, which is the most important thing. He was working on a CBS radio show called Your Tropical Trip . The audience had the opportunity to win a trip to a tropical paradise, and my father sang a song related to a Latin country, about Santiago de Chile, for example, or "Rainy Night In Rio".


These were the songs my father sang on his guitar when he came home. It was only after he died that I felt the desire to be on stage with a band, playing those songs. I found his music , his arrangements, and this was a great discovery for me. It was all I wanted to do at the time. Be one of those girls who sing in front of an orchestra. Somehow, I became the person he was.


Is not it striking that his father has been able to preserve the Cuban authenticity in all the music he recorded?

At first it was difficult. In the 1940s, the American public was afraid of that sound; They did not even know how to dance it. My father told me an anecdote from the time his orchestra alternated with Buddy Rogers' band. When it was his turn, people would sit and stop dancing. Then my dad asked Rogers to finish his set by playing one of his songs - for example, "The Manizer" - and to allow his musicians to be replaced by my father's ensemble one by one, so that the music would not stop . The strategy worked. I find it very funny to think that the audience was dancing if a white orchestra conductor played Cuban music, but not with the other.

My father always preserved the authenticity of Cuban sound. He had to play Broadway songs, from the great American songbook, but added a Latin sensibility. When they recorded the main theme of I Love Lucy , Marco Rizo, their orchestrator and pianist, insisted that they add maracas and bongo, to represent it better. I love the talent that my father had to take any song and give it a touch of Latin energy.


What is your favorite - and least favorite - memory of your father?

The favorites were the moments when I brought the guitar to our room and began to sing. Those memories will always accompany me, I love them with all my being. And also when he took me on his boat and taught me how to fish.

The most painful memories, of course, are when you drink too much. She became someone she was not, and processing that as a child was very painful. When I was drinking, my father went from being the friendliest host in the world to someone who was angry and paranoid. And then, the next day, he was depressed. Each person handles alcohol addiction in a different way. It was a disease that killed him. He died at 69 of cancer of the lung, but the state of his body at that time made it impossible to fight cancer. A pity, because he was a generous and affable man. A great person.

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