Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy publicity photo
|Birthname:||Ricardo/Enrique Alberto Fernando Ricardo|
|Height||5' 11½" (1.82 m)|
|Personal and Family information|
|Birthplace:||West Havana, Cuba|
|Spouse(s):||Lucy Ricardo, married in 1940|
|Related to:||Ricky Ricardo, Jr. (son)|
Mrs. Ricardo (mother)
Mrs. McGillicuddy (mother in-law)
|Always manages to get wife Lucy out of mischievous predicaments, many of them centered around her desire to perform, namely at the nightclub where he Ricky performs, he usually declines to allow her to do so|
|Appeared on:||I Love Lucy/The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour|
|Episodes appeared in:||all of both series|
|Character played by:||Desi Arnaz|
Ricardo/Enrique Alberto Fernando Ricardo y de Acha III or Ricky Ricardo is a Cuban-born American bandleader who is married to Lucy Ricardo on the I Love Lucy TV series. The part of Ricky is played by musician/singer/bandleader/actor Desi Arnaz.
Early life and familyEdit
Ricky was born sometime between 1917 and 1921. (He was said to be 35 in 1952, but he was then said to be 36 in 1957 when he bought his house in Connecticut.) Ricky was born in West Havana, Cuba. The actual date of Ricky's birth is unknown, but it was sometime either in late May or early-to-mid June. Ricky is a Gemini, so even though his actual birthdate isn't ever given, it is possible to narrow down the possibilities of what month his birthday is in.
Ricky is very close to his Uncle Alberto, and it's possible that one of Ricky's middle names was chosen to honor this uncle. Not much is known about his childhood in Cuba, but he often talks about it fondly. He was raised on a Cuban cigar farm. His mother, Mrs. Ricardo (no first name ever provided), was a great singer and dancer. She loved Ricky very much and took good care of him. She chose to stay behind in Cuba when Ricky came to the United States, and she must have gone a very long time without seeing her son, because, not only does Ricky not go back to Cuba until 1957, his mother only meets Ricky's future wife, Lucy, for the first time almost 14 years after her son got married. Ricky grew up with five brothers- Pedro, Pablo, Chu-Chu, Josinte, and Jose. It is never said, though, how many younger and/or older brothers Ricky had; his birth order is unknown.
Ricky often mentions his father in terms of the proverbs and words of wisdom that he told his son in Spanish, such as "Ill-gotten gold is no one's gain" and "Never do business with friends." It seems as though his father could have died young, because Ricky talks about his Uncle Alberto as though Alberto was a father figure to him growing up. Ricky said that Uncle Alberto "practically raised him." But Ricky also once mentioned that his father took him to Havana, where he gambled against his father's wishes. And surely Ricky went to Havana when he was at least in his teens and was old enough to gamble. So, maybe Ricky's father either didn't pay much attention to him as a child or wasn't around much, causing Uncle Alberto to step in to fulfill the father role. Ricky did say once, though, that he enjoyed visiting his dad at his dad's office when he was a kid. Still, though, Uncle Alberto is remembered much more fondly by Ricky than his father. This also could be because Uncle Alberto is the head of the family. Alberto is even the one who gave Ricky marriage advice. He was told to marry a Cuban girl, and Uncle Alberto was not happy when Ricky married an American.
Ricky has a huge family back in Cuba, not just with having five brothers. Ricky's Uncle Eduardo is a judge and very important in Cuba. Other members of his large family that he mentions are Uncle Pedro, Aunt Rosa, Uncle Rafael, Aunt Silvia, Aunt Maria Pepa, Uncle Jorge, Uncle Guillermito Menendez, Nandine, Manuel, Amberta, Amparo, Pepe, Enrique, Josefina, and a set of unnamed twins.
Ricky first entered the entertainment industry at the young age of 12. He knew early on that he wanted to make a living by singing and playing his beloved conga drum. His favorite song to sing and conga to is "Babalu," which would become his signature song. He also plays guitar. His good friends Carlos and Maria Ortega gave him his start in show business, and he joined a dancing group with them. Ricky may have picked up wearing his signature straw hat while performing either from Maurice Chevalier or his Uncle Alberto, who is a lover of straw hats. Ricky attended Havana U for college, and he studied English there for many years. His last gig in Cuba was working at a nightclub in Havana circa 1937-1938 alongside the singing act named the Five Romero Sisters.
In 1938, Ricky immigrated to the United States. Ricky never returned to Cuba from the time he first left until 1956, when he takes his family there. He came to this country by flying from Havana to Miami Beach with 40 musicians. Somehow, Ricky wound up living in New York City. Ricky's first gig in New York was starring in the Broadway show Too Many Girls. He also played at the Copacabana early in his American career. Ricky went through naturalization sometime before 1955 to become an American citizen; he proudly stores his naturalization papers in his safe deposit box at home. He also briefly mentions having been in the US Army at some point, and that he received a Good Conduct medal. The time in which Ricky served in the military is unknown, but it's most likely that he was in the Army either during WWII or at the very beginning of the Korean War.
Shortly after he came to this country, in 1940, Ricky agreed to go on a blind date with a lovely redhead; the blind date was set up by the redhead's friend Marion Strong. This redhead was Lucy McGillicuddy. They fell madly in love. (Lucy says in 1955 that this blind date happened 15 years prior.) Lucy and Ricky seem to have gone dancing on their blind date, because Lucy once said that Ricky first asked what her name was when they first danced together. Lucy also made many blunders the first time she met Ricky. She says that she "said awful things, spilled stuff all over [Ricky], and acted like a first-class nincompoop." But this obviously didn't deter Ricky, who was head over heels for her.
In 1940, only a couple of months after they met, Lucy and Ricky got married at the Byram River Beagle Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. The date of their marriage is unclear. It was sometime in the spring, but Lucy once says her anniversary is on the 19th of the month, but another time, she says her anniversary is on the 7th of the month. The mystery month was most likely April or May. They went skiing somewhere on their honeymoon. It is rumored that they wanted to go skiing at Sun Valley on their honeymoon but were unable to afford it at the time. Ricky must have met Lucy not long after he came to America, because he mentions multiple times how Lucy "tricked" him into marriage by telling him that common wedding traditions (like sayiing "I do") were really common American customs. This says that Ricky didn't have a good hold on his English when he first met Lucy. Nobody knows where Lucy and Ricky lived during the first eight years of their marriage, but it was likely somewhere in New York City.
On August 6, 1948, the couple moved into a small brownstone apartment in Manhattan, located at 623 East 68th Street, although they would later claim many times that they lived at this apartment from the start of their marriage. They lived in apartment 4A until 1953, when they moved to apartment 3B (later named 3D) so there would be an extra room for Little Ricky. Lucy and Ricky quickly developed a very close friendship with their landlords/neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz. Ricky and Fred quickly became best friends, bonding over their similar interests and similar marital strife. Ricky took a job as an orchestra leader/singer/conga drummer down at the Tropicana, a local nightclub. He became manager of the Tropicana in mid-1952, when then-owner Alvin Littlefield offered him the position.
For the first 11 years of their marriage, the Ricardos were childless. Lucy finally became pregnant in 1952. It was a very unexpected and welcome surprise for her, and it was an even bigger sense of shock and elation for proud father-to-be Ricky. Lucy gave birth to Ricky Ricardo, Jr. (AKA: "Little Ricky") on January 19, 1953. Little Ricky is the Ricardos' only child.
Ricky had minimal fame and success as an orchestra leader/performer prior to 1954, but in 1954, he was offered to audition for the lead role in a MGM film about Don Juan. Ricky gave a great screen test and won the role. While in Hollywood making Don Juan, the movie got shelved, but Ricky was put into another movie. It is never said what the final movie he made was called. It's also possible that he made more than one movie while in Hollywood, since he says that actor Claude Akins was in "a picture" he did in California. After his movie opened at Radio City Music Hall in February 1956, Ricky had a minor celebrity/movie star status. In 1955, one month after returning home from Hollywood, Ricky landed a great gig playing all over Europe. Bilingual Ricky didn't have to learn any language for the trip, since he used his native Spanish for the trip. He got to play at the Roxy, a longtime dream, only days after coming home from the European tour. In 1956, Ricky was making around $20,000 a year for a salary. Because of this, he had enough success and money to buy the Tropicana. As the new owner, he changed the name to Club Babalu. He also was in a documentary about Florida in 1956 while his band performed at the exclusive Eden Roc hotel. Ricky was in the part of the documentary about modern-day Florida.
In 1957, Lucy decided that she wanted to leave the city and move to the country. So, the Ricardos packed up their things and moved to Westport, Connecticut. This is their current living location. Ricky still performs at the Club Babalu; he commutes to New York by train every weekday. He also has some extra income coming in from selling the eggs his 200 hens lay each day for 60 cents a dozen. Throughout the period of 1958-1959, his minor celebrity status has allowed him to travel to even more exotic places, such as Las Vegas, Mexico, and Tokyo, Japan.
After his job, Ricky's favorite activity is anything dealing with sports. He loves watching "the fights" on TV with buddy Fred Mertz, and he equally enjoys fishing, horseracing, golf, and baseball. He developed a love of the ocean, boats, and fishing very early on, and he's been on boats his whole life, starting when he was younger than four years old. Like his wife, Ricky loves playing cards, and the Ricardos often play a weekly bridge game with the Mertzes. His favorite meals are roast pig, arroz con pollo, and plantains. Ricky enjoys rice so much because of how he frequently ate it for breakfast when he was growing up in Cuba.
Ricky can be arrogant at times, stubborn, and quick-tempered. Nothing makes him lose his temper more than the things his wife Lucy does. He is a worrier about finances, never wanting Lucy to spend too much money. He has an old-fashioned view of women, wanting his wife to stay home and not have a career. He also has a bad habit of tapping his fingers when nervous. He is a caring father, a loyal husband, and a faithful friend.