[quote]Ricky Ricardo was based on the very real Cuban bandleader and vocalist who played him: Desiderio Arnaz y de Acha, or Desi Arnaz.
[quote]Ricky was from Havana; Desi was from Santiago de Cuba. Ricky emigrated to New York, Desi to Miami. Ricky married Lucy McGillicuddy; Desi married Lucille Ball. Ricky's wife wanted desperately to be in show business; Desi's wife was already a successful radio and film actress. Ricky eventually owned a nightclub; Desi eventually owned TV and movie studios.
[quote]So it only took a few changes for I Love Lucy's writers to turn Desi into Ricky. Says 81-year-old trumpeter Tony Terran: "They retained much of his character and his emotional side."
[quote]Terran is the last surviving member of the Ricky Ricardo Orchestra, the band that backed Ricky in that I Love Lucy nightclub. Terran says that, while Ricky may have been fictional, his band was very real.
[quote]The Ricky Ricardo Orchestra was made up mostly of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, which had been playing in ballrooms and theaters around the country when not performing on Bob Hope's radio show.
[quote]Yet many in Hollywood had their doubts about a TV show based on all-American girl married to a Latino. The band's musicians felt differently.
[quote]"I think the general feeling in the band was that it was quite a venture," Terran says. "It made some sense to us — we didn't have the same doubts that CBS had."
[quote]After all, Terran says, many popular orchestras back then were designed for mass appeal, alternating between swing and Latin rhythms, with vocalists singing in both English and Spanish. [...]
[quote]"We were commercial," Terran says. "We were more for TV."
[quote]"It was corny but commercial," says Johnny Rodriguez Jr. "I mean, it wasn't the hip Latin music."
Tony Terran died in 2017, he was 90.