‘I Love Lucy’: Watch Desi Arnaz Wow David Letterman’s Crowd in 1983 With a Theatrical Performance

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball were one of the most iconic duos in the history of television. However, the two were also just as talented all on their own. After “I Love Lucy,” Lucille Ball went on to continue making sitcoms and ran the production company Desilu Productions. She remains one of the most important figures in TV.

Meanwhile, Desi Arnaz always knew how to entertain a crowd — whether it was through jokes and laughter or a little musical number.

On May 23, 1983, Desi Arnaz proved he still had that amazing and vibrant musical talent that can excite audiences. Arnaz appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman” where he performed a song dedicated to the place he loved more than anywhere else — Cuba.

“Not very far from here, there’s a very lively atmosphere. Everybody’s going there this year … Cuba that’s where I’ll stay. Cuba where wine is flowing …” Arnaz sang extravagantly.

It felt like a scene from “I Love Lucy” where Ricky Ricardo struts around his nightclub, The Tropicana. The club is influenced by an infamous Havana nightspot.

The song is written by Aaron Burr Lane, Arnaz shares in the clip. Sadly, Arnaz would pass away three years later on December 2, 1986.

Desi Arnaz Outside of ‘I Love Lucy’

Although people may always view him as the loving husband, Ricky Ricardo, on “I Love Lucy.” The show was groundbreaking and defied expectations and trends present in television during the 1950s.

However, Desi Arnaz was also a devoted musician on top of his acting career.

According to Biography.com, he worked for Xavier Cugat in New York for a bit. Then he went to Miami where he lead his very own Conga Line. Arnaz introduced countless Americans to the Conga Line in a fun and spirited way.

His time in Miami led to great success, so he returned back to New York to start his own band. He got his first role in the 1939 Broadway musical “Too Many Girls.” In fact, it was his musical charisma that first got his foot in the door.

“Too Many Girls” is where he met Lucille Ball and the rest was history.

While he was first a renowned orchestra director he eventually became an actor and producer. He was known for songs like “Cuban Pete,” “Babalú,” and “El Cumbanchero.”

“These songs are the reasons why I decided to have my own club act. Some of these songs made it to ‘I Love Lucy,’ and it was because of that show that this wonderful Latin music was spoon-fed in the most loving way to a totally American audience,” Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of Ball and Arnaz, said to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 2010. She has kept up with her roots and creates music like her father.