The Tropicana Club in Havana was launched in 1939 on a six acre (24,000 m²) suburban estate in Havana's Marianao neighborhood. The property was rented from Guillermina Pérez Chaumont, known as Mina, and the tropical gardens of her Villa Mina provided a lush natural setting for an outdoor cabaret. Impresario Victor de Correa provided the food and entertainment, while Rafael Mascaro and Luis Bular operated the casino located in the chandeliered dining room of the estate's mansion. With a fanfare from the Alfredo Brito Orchestra, the club opened on December 30, 1939.
Correa was squeezed out when Martin Fox bought Villa Mina in 1950. Fox then hired architect Max Borges, Jr., who created Tropicana's Arcos de Cristal, parabolic concrete arches and glass walls over an indoor stage. Construction continued through 1951. When the indoor cabaret at the air-conditioned Arcos de Cristal opened on March 15, 1952, with a combined total seating capacity of 1,700 for the interior and outside areas, it became a showcase for flashy, spectacular shows staged by choreographer Roderico "Rodney" Neyra. Headliners included Xavier Cugat, Carmen Miranda, Nat King Cole and Josephine Baker. The long list of celebrities who flocked to the Tropicana included Edith Piaf, Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Durante and Marlon Brando.
Beginning in 1956, Cubana Airlines' Tropicana Special was a round-trip flight that ferried club customers from Miami to the Tropicana and returned them to Florida at 4am the following morning.
- On the 1950s American sitcom I Love Lucy, the character Ricky Ricardo (played by Cuban-born Desi Arnaz) was a singer and bandleader at downtown New York City's "Tropicana" nightclub.