With a diverse culture that includes African, Spanish, French, and Asian influences, Cuba has left its mark on everything from world music and literature to major league sports. Here is just a short list of famous Cubans:
Best known for his role as Ricky Ricardo on the TV series I Love Lucy, in which he starred opposite real-life wife Lucille Ball, Arnaz—who hailed from Santiago de Cuba—was also an accomplished musician, writer, director, and producer.
The Havana-born actor has appeared in numerous hit films, including The Godfather Part III, for which he received an Academy Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Also born in Havana, the singer and her band Miami Sound Machine is credited with bringing Latin music to the mainstream with such mega-hits as “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You.”
Raised in the former Oriente Province, Arenas was a poet and author known for his macabre novels. His memoir, Before Night Falls, was turned into an Oscar-nominated film starring Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp.
The most famous of many Cuban professional baseball players, Havana-born Canseco was an All-Star outfielder and designated hitter for numerous MLB teams, most notably the Oakland Athletics. His book, Juiced, blew the lid off the sport’s use of steroids.
Barrier-breaker Fuentes, who was born in Havana, became the first Latina host on MTV in 1993, as well as Revlon’s first Latina spokesmodel. She has since launched successful clothing and hair care lines.
Cuba’s most renowned artist, the surrealist painter from Sagua La Grande strove to capture the Afro-Cuban spirit in his works. His masterpiece, The Jungle, hangs in The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Known as the “Queen of Salsa,” the charismatic Cruz cut her singing chops in Havana before going on to record 23 gold records as one of the most popular Latin performers of all time.
Called the “Apostle of the Cuban Revolution” and considered a national hero, Marti was a poet and journalist from Havana who championed Cuba’s independence from Spain.
Ernest Hemingway, Honorary Member
While born in Illinois, “Papa” was a fixture in Havana for more than 20 years. His home there, Finca Vigia, has been turned into a shrine to the influential author, showcasing his beloved fishing boat Pilar and some 9,000 of his personal tomes.