100 years ago today, actor and producer Desi Arnaz was born in Cuba. Also a musician, writer and director, he is best remembered for his role as Ricky Ricardo on the American TV sitcom I Love Lucy, starring his wife Lucille Ball. With Ball, Arnaz founded Desilu Productions, an empire that went on to produce The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek and is credited with the development of the live audience multi-camera production style which became the standard for subsequent sitcoms. WATCH Desi and Lucy perform Chick-chicky-boom… (1917)
Arnaz, who was one of the smartest businessmen in Hollywood, is also credited with Ball as inventing the rerun, which earned them residual income from I Love Lucy. Arnaz also pushed the CBS network to allow them to show Ball pregnant, after getting a rabbi, priest and minister to say there was nothing wrong with it.
The Latin bandleader who toured worldwide with his band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, died of lung cancer at age of 69.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- The Semaphore machine was unveiled in Paris for visual communication over long-distances, especially from towers (1791)
- The US Congress prohibited the importation of slaves (1807)
- Russian serfdom was abolished by Alexander II (1861)
- Constantinople Convention was signed, giving free maritime passage through the Suez Canal during war and peace (1888)
- Miles Davis held the first recording session for his LP, Kind of Blue, with saxophonists John Coltrane in New York City (1959)
- The movie King Kong premiered in New York City (1933)
- The Sound of Music premiered starring Julie Andrews as the spunky nanny to the Austrian von Trapp family, an adaptation of the Broadway play with music by Rodgers and Hammerstein (“Edelweiss”, “My Favorite Things”, and “Do-Re-Mi”) that became the highest grossing film to date and won the Best Picture Oscar (1965)
- Morocco declared independence from France (1956); Rhodesia from Britain (1970)
- CDs and Compact Disc players were first released in the U.S. and Europe, making playing LPs easier and virtually eliminating skips and scratchy sounds (1983)
- Twelve European Community nations agreed to ban the production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end of the century (1989)
- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, San Marino, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan joined the United Nations (1992)
Happy 86th Birthday to Mikhail Gorbachev, the world leader most responsible for the end of the Cold War between Russians and Americans. The last leader of the Soviet Union, his policy of Perestroika (restructuring) moved the nation toward democratic and capitalist principles–and inadvertently led to its dissolution, and an end to communist party rule. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for introducing the policy of Glasnost, which called for increased openness and transparency in government and gave freedoms to the Soviet people, never previously experienced.
His negotiations with President Reagan over strategic nuclear arms led to a lifelong friendship. He was responsible for “tearing down” the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany. (Pictured left: the dismantled wall in 1990, with affectionate thanks to “Gorbi’) Read more about one of the most pivotal progressive figures of the 20th century in his memoirs.