Growing up in the 70s, a lot of the NYC Rebeldes fondly remember when local TV ran syndicated episodes of the I LOVE LUCY show. In a world where very few Latinos were on TV, we became huge fans of Desi Arnaz, whose Ricky Ricardo character was breaking stereotypes in the 1950s. Today we celebrate the birthday of the Cuban-born Arnaz, who would have been 96 years old today (he was born on March 2, 1917 in Santiago de Cuba).
Why did we love Arnaz so much? Let us count the ways:
- His "Latino-ness" wasn't forced. He played himself, a successful Cuban immigrant entrepreneur who married an amazing comedic actress.
- He was a producer, a creator at a time when most Latinos weren't movers and shakers in Hollywood. That is Rebelde.
- Together, Lucy and Ricky captured the hearts of American audiences in the 50s. No one was crapping on his background, they just celebrated his style and his vibe.
- Not only was he the perfect complement to Lucy, he was one serious performer.
- Ricky Ricardo was us, he spoke to us. Simple as that.
Here are our five favorite moments from Arnaz's career. What are yours?
Ricky Getting All Spanish on Lucy
Ricky as the Badass Mambo King
Ricky as the Romántico
Ricky as the Latino Educator
Desi on SNL Slaying it!