The Death of Desi Arnaz

Desi Arnaz

updated December 2003 in red below

Again, owes a debt of gratitude to Anne Parisi, for generouslydonating her time and film, so we could all enjoy the photographs of Desi’s lastbreath location. Thanks Anne!

After getting divorced from Lucy in 1960, Desi eventually bought a home inDel Mar, California. Right on the ocean. His address was 1920 Ocean Front. Here’swhat it looks like now. He lived in this house, withhis second wife, Edith, until she died in 1985. Here’s anotherpicture of the house.

After Edith’s death, Desi typically drowned his sorrows in booze, but withthe help of the ever-talented Desi Arnaz Jr., he got off the bottle, but notbefore the damage was done.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 1986 – and he lived out the restof the days in his beachfront home. He died at 5 minutes past midnight, onDecember 2nd, 1986. From what I can tell, his daughter Lucie was withhim when it happened. Thisis the front door they carried his body out from.

Desi’s body was taken to the Cypress View Crematory, on Imperial Avenue, inSan Diego. He was cremated there, and eventually, his offspring had his ashesscattered. Juicy Lucy Ball probably lit up, in his honor. They spoke for the lasttime, on November 10th.

By the way, Desi’s last appearance on film, was as Raul Julia’s father in TheEscape Artist.

On one very dark and intoxicated evening, my buddy Steve and I decided to goon a “creepy crawl” of Beverly Hills. We both knew that Lucy’s oldhouse was vacant. If you look closely at thisphoto of the house, notice the shutter to the right ofthe front window. See how some of the slats are missing? Well,now look here. Funny, huh? I would have got the wholedamn thing, if it weren’t attached to the house. Glad I did it, now.

Trivia: For no good reason, I’ve chosen to include thisreview from a show that Lucie Arnaz did in Chicago -probably around 1990. I often read it, and share it with fellow bad tasteaficionados. Enjoy it. I sure have.

January 2002 – friend Kevin Hassell was kind enough to provide me witha video tape of the 50th anniversary of I Love Lucy, hosted by Lucie Arnaz, and Desi Jr.For the clips alone, itwas a good watch, however, the rest was just an embarrassment. Those two children and their shameless selfexploitation – it was cringe making. When they sang their duet about Cuba, I thought I was going toralph. Lucy would have given them a good smack, I’m sure. Two thumbs down.

In my email box this week, from friend JeanBrowder:

“Your take on Lucie Arnaz was right on the mark. I remember when she was just starting that production forcabaret, it was in San Bernardino, CA at the old California Theater. The company have had a contract with Wyatt Cafeteria, and every night for a week she would come to eat dinner. 

She was a total bitch to all of us that worked there. She really thought she was so above everyone, and ordered us around like we were her slaves. Most of us were in high school at that time, and on the last night she was there when we saw her coming down the line, we all taunted her with cries of LUCY, LUCY really loud, slopped the food on her plate and treated her with rudeness like she had all of us. 

Now, my family has known several celebrities in our days, but she was the true Hollywood queen of bitches. It was cool, though, because Desi called one night, and I answered the phone. He said “I would like to talk toLucieArnaz” I knew it was him because of his accent. I said “May I ask who is calling?” He said “This is Desi Arnaz, her father” I don’t know what the conversation was between them, because the manager took her to his office for the call.”

Wow, thanks Jean.  Fun stuff! friend Mike Pare writes:  Lucy spoke to Desi, by the way, 2 days before he died. After Edie died, he for some time lived in Lucy’s guest house (bet Gary loved that)!!! LucieArnaz can be a pain, and she’s got a bug up her ass about her Mom, though it didn’t stop her from collecting many many millions. DesiJr. is a MUCH nicer, real person, not an ounce of Hollywood bullshit in him. friend Karen writes in,February 2001:

I was just reading your post about Desi Arnaz. Though I never knew him personally, but I thought I would share a fewstories about him:  

I grew up in Solana Beach in the late 60’s andthrough the 70’s. We lived on the bluff in an apartment complex on Del MarShores Terrace, (this was before all those condos were built). My dad andI used to climb down to the beach early in the morning to go fishing.  

Therewere several occasions that Desi Arnaz would be taking a morning walk on thebeach, and stop to talk to my dad. He was always very polite, asking abouthow the fishing was going, etc. We would see him in the summer time mostly,because he would come down for the Del Mar Race Track season. 

Anothertime, we saw him at the race track sitting at some box seats with some of hisfriends.  There was a horse running named “PapaLou”. Beforethe race, they were all laughing and having a good time. I could hear himsinging “PapaLou” to the tune of Ba Ba Lu. Sure enough, thathorse won, and paid pretty good too since it was a long shot. By then, theywere really partying. 

The last time I ever saw any of the family was in1978 when I graduated from high school. I was working at the McDonalds,which was brand new then, off of Via De La Valle just north of I-5. I hadalready given my notice there, and on the last day I worked, the last customer Iwaited on was Desi Arnaz Jr. I could not believe it when he walked in, hewas so cute.

Thanks Karen.

More, March 2002:  LOVE your website! I just found this the other day while messing around. I grew up in the 70’s in Del Mar California, and Desi Arnaz was a fixture around that time. My brother got his haircut at an old barbershop that was on the corner by the beach. 

Desi was totally white haired by that time and sadly, he looked about 20 years older (1976) I never forgot how nice a man he was to my brother and I, none of theHollywood stuff–just a really nice man! Would like to talk to Karen also, I remember the McDonald’s when it was brand new,I think I graduated the same year as her. 

Thanks, Ann!

December 2003: friend Mike Gsends us thisgreat pic of Desi’s house, from the beach front.  Great shot Mike, andthanks for the new perspective.  S

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