Amy Arnaz was a ballet dancer, instructor, and the wife of actor and musician Desi Arnaz Jr., the son of legendary comedians Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. She passed away on January 23, 2015, at the age of 63, after a two-year fight with brain cancer. Here is a look at her life, career, and death.
Early Life and Career
Amy Arnaz was born Amy Laura Bargiel on September 12, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, to Charles and Libby Kral Bargiel. She had a brother, Tom, and a sister, Lisa. She graduated from San Diego University and trained as a ballet dancer at the San Diego Ballet Company. She also participated in the Miss Las Vegas pageant in 1970.
She moved to Las Vegas and joined the Nevada Dance Theatre as a principal dancer for ten years. She also taught ballet at the University of Nevada. She founded Dance Etc., a dance studio in Boulder City, Nevada, where she lived with her husband and daughter. She also served as the executive director of the Boulder City Ballet Company.
She loved dancing and teaching children. In her blog, she wrote: “I enjoy this aspect of the dance world as much as the performing/teaching side. The children are very funny and as most dance instructors know, there is a pleasant reward in watching them progress through the years and finally reach a point where they can actually dance.”
Marriage and Family
Amy Arnaz married Gary Frederick Charf-Wilkinson in 1976 and had a daughter, Haley, in the same year. They divorced in 1979. She met Desi Arnaz Jr. in 1980 at the New Life Foundation, a spiritual retreat based on the writings of Vernon Howard. They married on October 8, 1987, at the Little Church of the West in Las Vegas.
Desi Arnaz Jr. adopted Haley as his own daughter. He also had another daughter, Julia, from a previous relationship with Susan Callahan-Howe. Julia was born when Desi was only 15 years old and did not meet him until 1991 after a paternity test confirmed their relationship.
Amy Arnaz was very supportive of her husband’s career as an actor and musician. He starred in several movies and TV shows, such as Here’s Lucy, Billy Two Hats, Automan, and The Mambo Kings. He also played drums for the band Dino, Desi & Billy, along with Dean Paul Martin and Billy Hinsche.
Diagnosis and Death
Amy Arnaz was diagnosed with brain cancer in January 2013. She underwent surgery to remove the tumor and received chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She also tried alternative therapies such as acupuncture and meditation. She remained optimistic and hopeful throughout her ordeal.
She wrote on her blog: “I have been blessed with so much love & support from my family & friends that I feel I can get through anything…I am determined to beat this thing & live a long & healthy life.”
However, her condition worsened over time and she succumbed to the disease on January 23, 2015, at her home in Boulder City. She was surrounded by her husband, daughter, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew.
Her obituary stated: “She was a beautiful person inside & out who touched many lives with her grace & kindness…She will be greatly missed by all who knew & loved her.”
Legacy and Tributes
Amy Arnaz left behind a legacy of love, joy, and creativity. She inspired many people with her passion for dancing and teaching. She also contributed to the community through her involvement in various charitable causes such as animal welfare, environmental protection, and children’s education.
Her husband Desi Arnaz Jr. said: “She was my best friend…She was an angel.” He also expressed his gratitude for their 35 years of marriage: “We had a wonderful life together…We were very happy.”
Her daughter Haley Arnaz said: “She was my hero…She taught me everything I know.” She also praised her mother’s courage and strength: “She fought so hard…She never gave up.”
Her sister Lisa Bargiel said: “She was my soulmate…She was always there for me.” She also remembered her sister’s generosity and compassion: “She gave so much to others…She had a big heart.”
Many friends and fans also paid tribute to Amy Arnaz on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. They shared their memories of her and offered their condolences to her family.
According to CelebSuburb, one of her friends wrote: “Amy was one of the most beautiful people I have ever known…She was always smiling and laughing…She made everyone feel special.”
Another friend wrote: “Amy was a wonderful person and a great dancer…She had a lot of talent and charisma…She lit up the stage.”
A fan wrote: “Amy was a lovely lady and a devoted wife…She was a perfect match for Desi…They were a beautiful couple.”
Amy Arnaz cause of death was a tragic loss for her family, friends, and fans. She will always be remembered for her grace, kindness, and spirit.