Our Cuban American population prides itself on maintaining a rich, colorful heritage coming from their island nation of Cuba. As American residents or fully naturalized American citizens, many are based in the Miami, Florida area, but they’re never so far away from their island roots of Cuba. Names like actor Andy Garcia (Internal Affairs) or mega super pop star Gloria Estefan (Rhythm Is Gonna Get You) are Cuban American entertainers who’ve successfully integrated their Cuban culture and identity into American culture.
Desi Arnaz – Actor/Producer/Studio Head
His marriage – to a certain wacky redhead – became an American comedy institution. Without Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s incredibly creative production studio, Desilu, there would be no “Star Trek”, no “Mission Impossible” and no “The Untouchables”. The Cuban born star not only became a household name as bandleader Ricky Ricardo in the sitcom masterpiece, “I Love Lucy”, but after he and wife Lucy created Desilu, they gave birth to entertainment franchises that still make Hollywood massively profitable box office receipts. Born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III in Santiago de Cuba, in 1894, Arnaz came to America and soon became a Broadway star. After meeting Lucille Ball, and marrying her in 1940, the rest is dazzling Hollywood history, and TV’s golden age and beyond would have his indelible imprint. Both his children – Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucy Arnaz – are also accomplished actors as well.
Gloria Estefan – Singer/Musician
She’s one of the most successful and recognizable voices in American pop music, and one of the most popular crossover artists from Latin America music into American mainstream pop. She’s often called ‘Queen of Latin Pop’ and has sold a stunning 100 million albums worldwide. Born Gloria Maria Milagrosa Fajardo in Havana, Cuba in 1957, the singer’s family fled to Miami during the Cuban revolution. Estefan is a real fighter, as was proven after a major accident. While on tour in Pennsylvania, Estefan’s bus was hit by a speeding semi truck which resulted in her being critically injured. After titanium rods were implanted to stabilize her spine, the plucky Estefan fully recovered after a year of intensive physical therapy.
Cristina Saralegui – Talk Show Host
She’s a queen of TV talk in the Latin community – a kind of Cuban Oprah Winfrey. Born Cristina Maria Saralegui in Cuba, her family fled the revolution to Miami and settled in Key Biscayne. Her show, ‘El Show de Cristina’ (The Cristina Show) debuted in 1989 and ended in 2010 – lasting a staggering 21 years. Since then, she’s published her own magazine and is active in raising the profile of AARP – American Association of Retired Persons.
Andy Garcia – Actor/Director
He starred opposite Richard Gere in “Internal Affairs” and romanced director Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter Sofia Coppola’s character Mary Corleone in “The Godfather III”, and snagged a Best Support Actor nomination for his thespian efforts. Born Andres Arturuo Garcia Menendez in Havana Cuba, Garcia’s family moved to Miami, Florida where the clan prospered running a profitable perfume company. In 2005, Garcia wrote, directed and starred in the movie “The Lost City” – appearing alongside Bill Murray and Dustin Hoffman. Garcia played with his Cuban roots for the film about a Havana nightclub owner in the 1950’s