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I Love Lucy is an Americanmarker television sitcom, starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951 to April 1, 1960 on CBS (including The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour). Although the original series ended in 1957, the show continued on for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials, running from 1957 to 1960, known first as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

I Love Lucy was the most-watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the ratings (to be matched only by The Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld), although it did not have a formal series finale episode. I Love Lucy is still syndicated in dozens of languages across the world.

The show won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations. In 2002, it was ranked second on TV Guide's top-50 greatest shows, behind Seinfeld and ahead of The Honeymooners. In 2007, it was placed on Time magazine's unranked list of the 100 best TV shows. The same year, the Washington Post named it the second best TV rerun, attesting to its longevity and sustained popularity.

Premise

Set mostly in New York Citymarker, I Love Lucy centers on Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball), and her singer/bandleader husband Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), along with their friends and landlords Fred Mertz (William Frawley) and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance). During the second season, Lucy and Ricky have a son named Little Ricky (whose birth was devised to coincide with Lucille Ball's real life pregnancy). "Little Ricky" literally grows up on the show and during the final season is played by 6 year old actor Keith Thibodeaux.

Lucy is somewhat naïve and ambitious, with an overactive imagination and a knack for getting herself into trouble. Primarily she is obsessed with joining her husband in show business, despite his refusal to cooperate. Fred and Ethel are former vaudevillians and this only strengthens her resolve to prove herself as a performer. Unfortunately, she cannot carry a tune or play anything other than an off-key rendition of "Glow Worm" (or "Sweet Sue") on the saxophone and has little other discernible ability (although to say she is completely without any sort of talent would be untrue as she has on occasion proven to be a good dancer and a competent singer in some cases). The show provided Ball ample opportunity to display her considerable skill at clowning and physical comedy, with Lucy's determination to get into the act in any way possible, resulting in numerous wacky situations. Character development was not a major focus of early sitcoms, so not much was ever learned about her life prior to the show. A few episodes mentioned that she was born in Jamestown, New Yorkmarker, (later corrected to West Jamestown), that she graduated from Jamestown High School, and that she met Ricky on a blind date. Besides occasional appearances by her mother (Kathryn Card), who annoyed Ricky to no end by constantly mispronouncing his name as "Mickey" and mistaking him for fellow bandleader Xavier Cugat, hardly any mention was ever made of any other family members. She also exhibited many stereotypical female traits that was the standard for women on television at the time, including being secretive about her age, being careless with money, and, when she wasn't trying to get into Rickys shows, being a devoted housewife (Ricky describes her in one episode as a "great housekeeper") and attentive mother to little Ricky.

Lucy's husband, Ricky Ricardo, is an up-and-coming Cuban American singer and bandleader with an excitable personality. His patience is frequently tested, sometimes to the breaking point, by his wife's antics. When exasperated, he often reverts to speaking rapidly in Spanish and even literally spanked Lucy for her mischief on one occason. As with Lucy, not much was ever learned about his past or family. Ricky's mother (played by actress Mary Emery) appeared in two episodes and in another Lucy mentioned that he had five brothers. He also mentioned that he'd been "practically raised" by his uncle Alberto (who was seen during a family visit to Cubamarker) and that he had attended Havana Universitymarker.

Lucy's best friend, confidante and accomplice in her crazy schemes is Ethel Mertz. A former model from Albuquerque, New Mexicomarker, Ethel tries to relive her glory days in vaudeville. She usually gets more chances to perform at Ricky's nightclub, because, unlike Lucy, she can actually sing and dance. Ethel, although she is Lucy's ally, often tries to reason with her, providing common sense advice.

Ethel's husband Fred served in World War I and lived through the Great Depression. He is very stingy with money and a very no-nonsense type of guy. However, he also shows that he can be a soft touch, especially when it comes to Little Ricky, the Ricardos' son. Fred performed in vaudeville, so like his wife Ethel, he can also sing and dance and they often performed duets.

Lucy and Ricky often play tricks on each other; for example, when Lucy tricked Ricky into thinking she was a compulsive thief; or when Ricky tricked Lucy into thinking she was not legally married to him, based on a mistake in their license. Although they may disagree at times, and despite their age differences, the four main characters are very close and loving.

The Manhattanmarker building they all lived in before their move to Westport, Connecticutmarker was addressed at a fictional 623 East 68th Street, on the Upper East Sidemarker of Manhattanmarker, which in reality would be located in the East River.

Cast



Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet, supporting cast members on My Favorite Husband, were originally approached for the roles of Fred and Ethel, but neither could accept due to previous commitments. Gordon did appear as a guest star in three episodes, playing Ricky's boss, Mr. Littlefield, in two episodes, and later in an hour-long episode as a civil court judge. Gordon was a veteran from the classic radio days in which he perfected the role of the exasperated character, as in Fibber McGee and Molly and Our Miss Brooks. He would go on to co-star with Ball in most of her post–I Love Lucy series. Benaderet was a guest star in one episode as the Ricardos' neighbor, the elderly Miss Lewis.

Barbara Pepper (later featured as Doris Ziffel in the series Green Acres) was also considered to play Ethel, but Pepper had been drinking very heavily after the death of her husband, Craig W. Reynolds. Her friendship with Ball dated back to the film Roman Scandals, in which both appeared as Goldwyn Girls. She turned up regularly in bit parts.

Lucille Ball liked naming supporting characters after real-life people. For instance, Carolyn Appleby had been one of her teachers, and Marion Strong was a friend in Jamestown, New Yorkmarker.

Primary production team



Radio

I Love Lucy was somewhat similar to My Favorite Husband, a 1948–51 CBS comedy radio series in which Lucille Ball (as zany housewife Liz Cooper) starred with Richard Denning. Based on the novel Mr. and Mrs. Cugat by Isabel Scott Rorick, My Favorite Husband was broadcast from July 23, 1948 to March 31, 1951, sponsored by General Foods. In 1950, CBS asked Lucy to take My Favorite Husband to television, but Lucy insisted that the man playing the role of husband be Arnaz, who had been away from Lucy for months at a time as a touring bandleader. When CBS refused because he was foreign-born, Lucy decided to create a television series of her own to bring her husband back home, and I Love Lucy was brought to television. Some of the My Favorite Husband scripts were rewritten as TV scripts for I Love Lucy by the same writers, Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, Jr..

On February 27, 1952, a sample I Love Lucy radio show was produced, but it never aired. This was a pilot episode, created by editing the soundtrack of the television episode "Breaking the Lease", with added Arnaz narration. It included commercials for Philip Morris, which sponsored the TV series. While it never aired on radio at the time in the 1950s (Philip Morris eventually sponsored a radio edition of My Little Margie instead), copies of this radio pilot episode have been circulating among "old time radio" collectors for years, and this radio pilot episode has aired in more recent decades on numerous local radio stations which air some "old time radio" programming.

Production

At the time, most television shows were broadcast live from New York City, and a low-quality 35mm or 16mm kinescope print was made of the show to broadcast it in other time zones. Because Ball was pregnant, she and Arnaz insisted on filming the show in Hollywoodmarker. The duo, along with co-creator Jess Oppenheimer, then decided to shoot the show on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, with three cameras, a technique now standard for most present-day sitcoms. The result was a much sharper image than other shows of the time, and the audience reactions were far more authentic than the "canned laughter" used on most filmed sitcoms of the time. The technique was not completely new; another CBS comedy series, Amos 'n' Andy, which debuted four months earlier, was already being filmed at Hal Roach Studios with three 35mm cameras to save time and money. Hal Roach Studios was also used for filming at least two other TV comedies as early as 1950, both airing on ABC, namely Stu Erwin's The Trouble with Father, and the TV version of Beulah; the original 1949/50 Jackie Gleason TV version of The Life of Riley on NBC was also done on film, not live. There were also some dramatic TV shows pre-dating I Love Lucy which were also filmed, not live. But I Love Lucy was the first show to use this film technique in front of a studio audience.

Arnaz persuaded Karl Freund, an Academy Award -winning cinematographer of such films as Metropolis (1927), Dracula (1931), and The Good Earth (1937), as well as director of The Mummy (1932), to be the series' cinematographer.

Scenes were often performed in sequence, as a play would be, which was unusual for comedies at that time. Retakes were rare and dialogue mistakes were often played off for the sake of continuity.

Desilu Productions, the company jointly owned by Ball and Arnaz, produced I Love Lucy and gradually expanded to produce and lease studio space for many other shows. For seasons 1 and 2 (1951–1953), Desilu rented space and filmed I Love Lucy at General Service Studios (now Hollywood Center Studiosmarker). In 1953, it leased the Motion Picture Center at 846 Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood, and renamed it Desilu Studios to shoot seasons 3–6 (1953–1957) of I Love Lucy. After 1956, it became known as Desilu-Cahuenga Studios to avoid confusion with other acquired Desilu locations. Desilu-Cahuenga is now Ren-Mar Studiosmarker.

Many real-life facts about Arnaz and Ball made it into the series. Like Ball, Lucy Ricardo was born on August 6 in Jamestown, New Yorkmarker, and attended high school in Celoron, New York. Also, the Ricardos were married at the Byram River Beagle Club in Greenwich, Connecticutmarker, just as the Arnazes had been.

Opening

The opening familiar to most viewers, featuring the credits superimposed over a "heart on satin" image, was created specifically for the 1959–67 CBS daytime network rebroadcasts, and subsequent syndication. As originally broadcast, the episodes opened with animated matchstick figures of Arnaz and Ball making reference to whomever the particular episode's sponsor was. These sequences were created by the animation team of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who declined screen credit because they were technically under exclusive contract to MGM at the time.

The original sponsor was cigarette maker Philip Morris, so the program opened with a cartoon of Lucy and Ricky climbing down a pack of Philip Morris cigarettes. In the early episodes, Lucy and Ricky, as well as Ethel and Fred on occasion, were shown smoking Philip Morris cigarettes. Lucy even went so far as to parody Johnny Roventini's image as the Philip Morris "bellhop" in the May 5, 1952 episode, Lucy Does a TV Commercial. Since the original sponsor references were no longer appropriate when the shows went into syndication, a new opening was needed, which resulted in the classic "heart on satin" opening. Other sponsors, whose products appeared during the original openings, were Procter & Gamble for Cheer and Lilt Home Permanent (1954–57), and General Foods for Sanka (1955–57).

The original openings, with the sponsor names edited out, were revived on TV Land showings, with a TV Land logo superimposed to obscure the original sponsor's logo. Ironically, this has led some people to believe that the restored introduction was created specifically for TV Land as an example of kitsch.

The animated openings, along with the middle commercial introductory animations, are included, fully restored, in the Complete Series DVD collection.

The Mertzes

As with My Favorite Husband, Lucy writers decided that the Ricardo characters needed an older set of characters to play off of. While doing Husband, veteran character actors Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet played the Atterburys, an older, more financially stable couple (Mr. Atterbury was George Cooper's boss). Initially Ball had wanted both actors to reprise their roles on television, however, both were unavailable at the time the show went into production with Benaderet already playing Blanche Morton on the Burns and Allen program. Gordon already was under contract by CBS to do Our Miss Brooks radio and television programs.

Casting the Mertzes, as they were now called, (the surname taken from a doctor Lucy scribe Madelyn Pugh knew as a child in Indianapolis) proved to be bit of a challenge. Ball had initially wanted character actor James Gleason, with whom she appeared in Columbia Pictures 1949 movie Miss Grant Takes Richmond, to play Fred Mertz. However, Gleason wanted nearly $3500 per episode to play the role, a price that was far too steep. Sixty-four year old Bill Frawley, a seasoned vaudevillian and movie character actor with nearly 100 film credits to his name, was the long shot to play Fred Mertz who only came in to consideration after he telephoned Lucy personally asking her if there was a role for him on her new show. Lucy, who had only briefly known Frawley from her days at RKO, suggested him to both Desi and CBS. CBS balked at the idea of Frawley, fearing that his excessive drinking, which was well known in Hollywood, would interfere with him doing a live show. Desi nonetheless liked Frawley who seemed to personify the character, which had been retailored as less financially successful and more curmudgeonly in contrast to Gale Gordon's Mr. Atterbury. CBS relented only after Desi contractually bound Frawley to complete sobriety during the production of the show. Not once during Lucy's nine seasons did Frawley's drinking ever interfere with his performance.

Casting Ethel Mertz also proved to be a challenge. Barbara Pepper, a close friend of Lucy's who had come to Hollywood with her in 1933 as one of the Goldwyn Girls to co-star with Eddie Cantor in the film Roman Scandals, was initially considered. Unfortunately Pepper suffered from severe alcoholism and thus was passed on, although she did appear in several bit parts during the run of the show. Vivian Vance was a successful Broadway actress who had already been performing for 20 years on the stage with two film credits to her name, but was relatively unknown in Hollywood by 1950. Suggested by Lucy director Marc Daniels who had worked with Vance on Broadway in New York, Vance was performing in a revival of the play Voice of the Turtle in La Jolla, Californiamarker. It was Desi and Jess Oppenheimer who went to see her in the play and hired her on the spot. Vance had many misgivings about giving up her film and stage work for a television show yet was convinced by Daniels that it would be a big break in her career. Lucy initially was wary of the casting of Vivian, who was around the same age as Lucy herself and was quite attractive as opposed to the writers' conception of Ethel Mertz as a somewhat older more homely looking woman. Vance assured Lucy that she could easily inhibit those traits with make up, and, after several rehearsals, Lucy began to warm to her. Eventually the two would develop a lifelong professional and personal friendship.

Vance and Frawley's off-screen relationship was less successful. Although they initially were cordial with one another, the two readily disliked each other off the set. In spite of this, they were always professional while performing on the show and had great chemistry on screen. In fact, their acrimonious personal relationship may have helped their on-screen marriage be that much funnier. It was reported that Vance, who was 23 years younger than Frawley, was upset that she had to pretend to be married to a man old enough to be her father. Frawley, hearing this comment, readily came to resent Vance resulting in an adversarial relationship between the two throughout the entire run of the show. In 1958, when Desi Arnaz proposed doing a Mertz spin off from I Love Lucy, Vance balked even after being promised a substantial salary, stating that she could not stand to work with Frawley one on one on a daily basis. Frawley severely resented her for this, and the two rarely, if ever, talked to each other outside of performing after that. When Frawley died in 1966, it was recalled Vance shouted, "Champagne for everyone!"

Pregnancy and Little Ricky

Just before filming the show, Lucy and Desi learned that Lucy was once again pregnant (after multiple miscarriages earlier in their marriage) with what would be their first child, Lucie Arnaz. They actually filmed the original pilot while Lucy was "showing," but did not include any references to the pregnancy in the episode.

Later, during the second season, Lucy was pregnant again with second child Desi Arnaz, Jr., and this time the pregnancy was incorporated into the series' storyline. Despite popular belief, Lucy's pregnancy was not television's first on-screen pregnancy. That distinction belongs to Mary Kay on the late 1940s sitcom, Mary Kay and Johnny.

CBS would not allow I Love Lucy to use the word "pregnant", so "expecting" was used instead. The episode "Lucy Is Enceinte" first aired on December 8, 1952 ("enceinte" being French for "expecting" or "pregnant"). The episode in which Lucy gives birth, "Lucy Goes to the Hospital," first aired on January 19, 1953. To increase the publicity of this episode, the original air date was chosen to coincide with Lucille Ball's real-life delivery of Desi, Jr. by Caesarean section. "Lucy Goes to the Hospital" was watched by more people than any other TV program up to that time, with 71.7% of all American television sets tuned in, topping 67.7 rating for Dwight Eisenhower's inauguration coverage the following morning.

Unlike some programs which advance the age of a newborn over a short period of time, I Love Lucy allowed the Little Ricky character to grow up in real time. America saw Little Ricky as an infant in the 1952–53 season, a toddler from 1953 to 1956, and finally a young school-age boy from 1956 to 1960. However, five actors played the role, two sets of twins and later Keith Thibodeaux.

Jess Oppenheimer stated in his autobiography that deciding the sex of the Ricardo child was initially problematic. Initially Lucy scribes wanted the Ricardos to have a boy, feeling that a boy would allow for more comical plot lines. Still unconvinced, Oppenheimer asked Desi what he wanted: Desi replied that he wanted a boy because this might be his only chance to have a son with Lucy. From then on, no matter what the sex of Lucille Ball's real baby was, Lucy Ricardo would have a boy.

Episodes

Most episodes take place in the Ricardos' modest brownstone apartment at 623 East 68th Street or at the downtown "Tropicana" nightclub where Ricky is employed, though other parts of the city are sometimes used. Later episodes take the Ricardos and the Mertzes to Hollywood for Ricky to shoot a movie, and to Europe, when Ricky and his band tour the continent. There is also a trip to Miami Beach for the two couples, with a side trip to Ricky's homeland of Cuba. Eventually, like millions of other Americans in the late 1950s, the friends move to the suburbs, in this case, to Westport, Connecticutmarker.

Some especially memorable episodes:
  • "Lucy Does a TV Commercial": Lucy is hired to act as the "Vitameatavegamin girl" in a TV commercial, to promote a health tonic that contains healthy amounts of vitamins, meat, vegetables, minerals — and a less-than-healthy dose of 23% alcohol. Lucy becomes progressively drunker throughout rehearsal, but gamely keeps on pitching the product, eventually leading to a completely flubbed live performance for "this stuff." In November 2001, fans voted this episode as their favorite, during a 50th anniversary I Love Lucy television special. TV Guide and Nick at Nite ranked it the second greatest television episode of all time, after the Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust".


  • "Job Switching": Lucy and Ethel get jobs packaging candy that is delivered on a conveyor belt. The work seems easy enough when they are shown what to do by their supervisor, but then the pace picks up and the women soon fall further and further behind. In desperation, they resort to comical means to try to keep up. The skit, a variation of an old vaudeville routine, has been parodied numerous times.


  • "Lucy and Superman": Lucy tries to get George Reeves, star of the 1950s' Adventures of Superman TV series, to appear at little Ricky's birthday party. When she fails, she dresses up as Superman herself, only to have Reeves turn up in costume at the last minute and rescue her after she traps herself on the ledge of her apartment. As Superman brings Lucy back to the window of her apartment, Ricky is furious, and at one point yells, "...In all of the 15 years we've been married..." Then Superman says, "You mean to tell me that you've been married to her for 15 years?" Ricky answers, "Yeah, 15 years." Superman replies, "And they call Me superman!" Lucy is not pleased.


  • "L.A.marker At Last": Lucy, Fred, and Ethel have lunch at The Brown Derby, where Lucy accidentally causes a waiter to heave a pie in William Holden's face. Later at the hotel, Ricky has a surprise for her. He has brought one of her favorite actors to meet her — none other than William Holden. Fearing that the actor will recognize her, she puts on a disguise that includes a putty nose which catches on fire when she lights a cigarette. This episode was reportedly Lucille Ball's favorite episode.


  • "Lucy and Harpo Marx": While living in Hollywoodmarker, Lucy is visited by Carolyn Appleby, a friend who is under the impression that Lucy knows numerous celebrities. After Lucy and Ethel get Carolyn's glasses away from her, Lucy pretends to be various stars. Meanwhile, Ricky and Fred invite Harpo Marx to the Ricardos' apartment. When he shows up, Lucy is disguised as him; seeing the real Harpo, she hides in a kitchen doorway. Harpo is perplexed when he sees what he thinks is his reflection, forcing Lucy to mimic his every move to avoid detection. This was a tribute to Harpo and Groucho's famous mirror scene in the Marx Brothers comedy classic, Duck Soup.


  • "Lucy Does the Tango": The Ricardos' and the Mertzes' chicken business isn't doing very well. Lucy and Ethel come up with a scheme to fool the boys into thinking the hens are laying lots of eggs by smuggling some, hidden underneath their clothes, into the henhouse. On one such trip, Ricky insists that he and Lucy rehearse their tango number for a local benefit. Unbeknownst to Ricky, Lucy's blouse is filled with chicken eggs. The climax of this scene provoked the longest laugh from the studio audience in the show's history.


Feature films

Arnaz and Ball capitalized on the series' popularity by starring in Vincente Minnelli's 1954 film The Long, Long Trailer as Tacy and Nicky Collini, two characters very similar to Lucy and Ricky. Also during this time, Desilu produced a feature film version of the show in 1953, consisting of three first-season episodes edited together: "The Benefit", "Breaking the Lease" and "The Ballet". New scenes featuring the cast were filmed and put between the episodes to tie them into one cohesive story. MGM, however, demanded the I Love Lucy movie be shelved because they felt it would diminish interest in the The Long, Long Trailer. Although I Love Lucy was never theatrically released and had been forgotten, it has since been found and has been released on the bonus disc in the Complete Series collection.

In 1956 Lucy and Desi starred in the feature film Forever, Darling with James Mason.

After Lucy and legacy

After the conclusion of the sixth season of I Love Lucy, Lucy and Desi decided to cut down on the number of episodes that were filmed. Instead, they extended I Love Lucy to 60 minutes, with a guest star each episode. They renamed the show the The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, later changed for network rebroadcasts and syndication to The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Thirteen hour-long episodes aired from 1957 to 1960. The main cast, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley and Keith Thibodeaux were all in the show. The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour is available on DVD, released as I Love Lucy: The Final Seasons 7, 8, & 9. On March 2, Desi's birthday, 1960, the day after the last hour-long episode was filmed, Lucille Ball filed for divorce from Desi Arnaz.

As mentioned Vance and Frawley were offered a chance to take their characters to their own spin-off series. Frawley was willing, but Vance refused to ever work with Frawley again since the two did not get along. Frawley did appear once more with Lucille Ball — in an episode of The Lucy Show in 1965. Sadly, this was his last screen appearance with his longtime friend. He died in Hollywood on March 3, 1966 of a heart attack at age 79.

In 1962, Ball began a six-year run with The Lucy Show, followed immediately in 1968 by six more years on yet another sitcom, Here's Lucy, finally ending her long run as a CBS sitcom star in 1974. Both The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy are notable for having Vance as recurring characters named Viv (Vivian Bagley Bunson on The Lucy Show and Vivian Jones on Here's Lucy), so named because she was tired of being recognized on the street and addressed as Ethel. Vance was a regular during the first three seasons of The Lucy Show but continued to make guest appearances through the years on The Lucy Show, and on Here's Lucy. In 1977, Vance and Ball were reunited one last time in the CBS special, Lucy Calls the President, which co-starred Gale Gordon.

In 1986, Ball tried another sitcom, Life with Lucy. The series aired on ABC for eight episodes before being canceled due to low ratings. Oddly enough, the show debuted to very high ratings, landing in Nielson's Top 20 for that week.

I Love Lucy has remained perennially popular. For instance, it was one of the first programs made in the USA seen on British television, which became more open to commerce with the launch of ITV, a commercial network that aired the series, in September 1955. As of July 2007, it remains the longest-running program to air continually in the Los Angelesmarker area, almost 50 years after production ended. Ironically, the series is currently aired on KTTVmarker, which had given up the CBS affiliation several months before I Love Lucy premiered. "I Love Lucy" is also airing four times a day, Monday through Friday, on KTTV's sister station KCOP Channel 13, also in Los Angeles. KTTV still airs "I Love Lucy" on weekends. In the US, reruns have aired nationally on Nick at Nite and TV Land in addition to local channels. As of January 2, 2009, I Love Lucy moved over to the Hallmark Channel but they are not currently airing the show except for the first two weeks of October 2009 & before mid July of 2009. TV Land ended its run of the series by giving viewers the opportunity to vote on the shows top 25 greatest episodes of all-time on December 31, 2008 on the network's website.This is particularly notable because, unlike some shows to which a cable channel is given exclusive rights to maximize ratings, Lucy has been consistently—and successfully—broadcast on multiple channels simultaneously.

The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, New Yorkmarker is a museum memorializing Lucy and I Love Lucy, including replicas of the NYC apartment set (located in the Desilu Playhouse facility in the Rapaport Center.(See also SaveLucyDesiCenter.org.)

Trivia

During the course of living in their New York apartment the Ricardos had three different telephone numbers, Murray Hill 5-9975, Circle 7-2099, and Murray Hill 5-9099. The change in numbers was due in part to the New York Telephone Company's activation of them for private use. New York Telephone would give the producers new uncirculated numbers to use. Murray Hill and Circle were, and still are, exchange names for telephone numbers in Manhattan.

Despite sleeping in separate beds throughout the entire series, Lucy and Ricky slept in two beds pushed together in the same box spring during the first two seasons of the show. Once Little Ricky was born, however, CBS suggested the beds be pushed apart as to diminish any hint of a sexual relationship between the Ricardos. Despite this, however, from time to time, especially after moving in to the bigger apartment in the Mertz building, the beds would occasionally be seen pushed together again.

Ethel Mertz had three middle names throughout the course of the series; Louise, Roberta, and Mae.

The Ricardos would go through four different sets of furniture during the series. Most of the furniture changes resulted in changes in the set such as when the Ricardos move into the bigger apartment in the Mertz building and eventually their home in Connecticut.

In episode 109 Lucy Learns To Drive, the Ricardos purchase a Pontiac Star Chief convertible for their cross-country journey to California. The vehicle figured prominently in this and subsequent episodes and was part of a product placement deal with General Motors.

In episode 140 Bon Voyage, the Ricardos and Mertz's take off for Europe on the American Export Liner the SS Constitution. Desilu had specially contracted with the American Export Line to advertise the ship in return for the company to put up money for set construction on the European based episodes. The I Love Lucy crew had to achieve the effect of making it look like Lucy was being lowered down to ship from a helicopter. To achieve this Lucy was suspended forty feet above the sound-stage and lowered down on a rope and harness (all this being done live before the studio audience). Though Lucy did the stunt she reportedly was terrified in doing it for a harness had once broken on her causing a fall from a great height while she was doing a stunt for an RKO picture of hers.

In episode 165 Lucy and the Loving Cup, Ricky Ricardo is given the honor of presenting jockey Johnny Longden with a loving cup celebrating the fact that he was, at the time, the jockey with the most wins. In real life Desilu opted to make a full length motion picture about the life of Longden, however, it never materialized.

For the first five seasons of the show the name of Ricky's club was the Tropicana, of which he initially was made manager. In season six Ricky becomes an owner of the club renaming it the Club Babalu.

Doris Singleton who played Lucy's sometimes friend, but mostly nemesis, Carolyn Appleby was originally named Lillian and was initially supposed to be just a one time guest spot as one of Lucy's girlfriends from the Wednesday Afternoon Fine Arts League. Impressed with Singleton she was brought back for more episodes and was renamed Carolyn, Lillian Appleby was a real life teacher of Lucy's in Jamestown, New York.

A running joke on the show was the reluctance of both Lucy and Ethel to reveal their ages, however, two episodes do eventually reveal them. In episode 138 The Passports which aired in 1955, it is revealed that Lucy Ricardo was born August 6, 1921 {August 6, 1911 was Lucy's real birthday}, making her 34 at the time of the episode. In episode 106 Ethel's Birthday, a specific age is not mentioned for Ethel, but Fred alludes that she is somewhere between 40 and 50 which were the ages of a delicatessen and cleaners, celebrating their birthdays also, in the Ricardo/Mertz neighborhood.

Both Bill Frawley and Fred Mertz were ardent fans of the New York Yankees ball club. So adamant a fan was Frawley that he had stipulated in his contract that if the Yankees reached the World Series he would be given the time off to go to New York to attend the games. This happened seven times during Lucy's nine year run causing major production headaches.

In an episode of The Golden Girls ("Son-in-Law Dearest"), Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), prepares to watch a 12-hour marathon of I Love Lucy by filling the coffee table with various snacks and announces these plans to Sophia Petrillo. Sophia then says, "I never cared for that show. In almost every episode, Lucy asks the same thing, 'Ricky, why can't I be in the show? Ricky, why can't I be in the show?' Why couldn't she be in the show? The woman was a riot at home; his show at the club stank! What's so entertaining about a Cuban beating a drum?!"

In 2001, a Polish remake of series was made, called Kocham Klarę.

Theme song

The title music, normally heard in an instrumental version, was sung by Desi Arnaz in the episode "Lucy's Last Birthday".

I love Lucy and she loves me,
We're as happy as two can be,
Sometimes we quarrel but then, how we love making up again,
Lucy kisses like no one can,
She's my missus and I'm her man,
And life is heaven you see,
Cause I love Lucy, Yes I love Lucy and Lucy loves me!

Nielsen Ratings

I Love Lucy consistently ranked very high in the Nielsen Ratings throughout its run.

  • 1951–52: #3
  • 1952–53: #1
  • 1953–54: #1
  • 1954–55: #1
  • 1955–56: #2
  • 1956–57: #1


The episode "Lucy Goes to the Hospital" first aired on Monday, January 19, 1953. It garnered a record 71.7 rating, meaning 71.7% of all television households at the time were tuned in to the program. To this day, that record is surpassed only by Elvis Presley's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 (82.6% rating).

Emmy Awards

Wins

  • Best Situation Comedy, 1953, 1954
  • Best Comedienne, Lucille Ball, 1953
  • Best Series Supporting Actress, Vivian Vance, 1954
  • Best Actress – Continuing Performance, Lucille Ball, 1956


Nominations

I Love Lucy

  • Best Situation Comedy, 1952
  • Best Written Comedy Material: Madelyn Pugh Davis, Jess Oppenheimer, Robert G. Carroll, 1955
  • Best Situation Comedy, 1955
  • Best Comedy Writing: Bob Carroll Jr., Madelyn Davis, Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf for the episode "L.A. At Last", 1956


Lucille Ball

  • Best Comedian or Comedienne, 1952
  • Most Outstanding Personality, 1953
  • Best Female Star of Regular Series, 1954
  • Best Actress Starring in a Regular Series, 1955
  • Best Comedienne, 1956
  • Best Continuing Performance by a Comedienne in a Series, 1957
  • Best Continuing Performance (Female) in a Series by a Comedienne, Singer, Hostess, Dancer, M.C., Announcer, Narrator, Panelist, or any Person who Essentially Plays Herself, 1958


Vivian Vance

  • Best Supporting Actress in a Regular Series, 1955
  • Best Supporting Performance by an Actress, 1957
  • Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actress in a , 1958


William Frawley

  • Best Series Supporting Actor, 1954
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Regular Series, 1955
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role, 1956


Honors

  • In 1999, Entertainment Weekly ranked the birth of Little Ricky as the fifth greatest moment in TV history.
  • In 2002, TV Guide ranked I Love Lucy #2 on its list of the 50 greatest shows, behind Seinfeld and ahead of The Honeymooners (According to TV Guide columnist Matt Roush, there was a "passionate" internal debate about whether I Love Lucy should have been first instead of Seinfeld. He stated that this was the main source of controversy in putting together the list.)
  • In 2007, Time magazine placed the show on its unranked list of the 100 best TV shows.


Parodies

  • In the movie Rat Race (2001), there is an "I Love Lucy" convention, with loads of Lucys.


  • In the episode "Power Mad" of The Fairly Odd Parents make a parody but the title screen is "I love Wanda". Wanda is Lucy and Cosmo is Ricky.


  • In the episode "Soup to Nuts" of the Disney TV show That's So Raven, Raven has a hallucination of a TV Show called " Oh That Raven". She is the parody of Lucy, Eddie is the parody of Ricky, Chelsea is Ethel, and Cory is Fred.


  • In the episode "I Love Sushi" of Nickelodeon's Drake and Josh, Drake and Josh work at fish company packaging sushi which mimic Lucy and Ethel working at a candy factory wrapping chocolates in episode "Job Switching." The company Drake and Josh worked for was called "Ball and Vance Fish Corp." in reference to Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance. Parodies of the classic "Job Switching" episode have been seen in other popular series, among them, episodes of Bewitched and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.


  • The episode "Barter" of Tales from the Dark Side, features a couple remarkably similar to Lucy and Ricky named Lucy and Nicky. The similarities go right down to Lucy's wardrobe, hairstyle and style of speech, to the design of their kitchen, Nicky's accent and their son little Nicky's annoying playing of the drums.


  • "Weird Al" Yankovic wrote a parody song based on "Mickey", called "Ricky". The song outlined the show's plot as well as mocking the program's style, and characters.








  • On an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Will greets his cousins by referring to them as Lucy characters (Ashley is Lucy, Hillary is Ethel and Carlton is Little Ricky).


  • On an episode of Married... with Children, Al expresses his dislike of the series by saying Fred should've been the star and the other characters should've been killed off.


DVD releases

Beginning in the Summer of 2001, Columbia House Television began releasing I Love Lucy on DVD in Chronological order. They began that summer with the pilot and the first three episodes on a single DVD. Every six weeks, another volume of four episodes would be released on DVD in chronological order. During the summer of 2002, each DVD would contain between five and seven episodes on a single DVD. They continued to release the series very slowly and would not even begin to release any season 2 episodes until the middle of 2002. By the spring of 2003, the third season on DVD began to be released with about six episodes released every six weeks to mail order subscribers. All these DVD's have the same identical features as the DVD's eventually released in the season Box sets in retail.

By the fall of 2003, season four episodes began to be offered by mail. By the spring of 2004 season five DVD's with about six episodes each began to be released gradually. Columbia House ended the distribution of these mail order DVD's in the Winter of 2005. They began releasing complete season sets in the Summer of 2004 every few months. They stated that Columbia House Subscribers would get these episodes through mail before releasing any box sets with the same episodes. They finally ended gradual subscriptions in 2005, several months before season 5 became available in retail. Columbia House then began to make season box sets available instead of these single volumes.

CBS Home Entertainment (via Paramount Home Entertainment) has released all six seasons of I Love Lucy on DVD in Region 1, as well as all 13 episodes of The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour (as I Love Lucy: The Final Seasons – 7, 8, & 9). Bonus features include rare on-set color footage and the "Desilu/Westinghouse" promotional film, as well as deleted scenes, original openings and interstitials (before they were altered or replaced for syndication) and on-air flubs. These DVD's offered identical features and identical content to the mail order single sets formerly available until 2005.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 36 June 7, 2004
The Complete 2nd Season 31 August 31, 2004
The Complete 3rd Season 31 February 1, 2005
The Complete 4th Season 30 May 3, 2005
The Complete 5th Season 26 August 16, 2005
The Complete 6th Season 27 May 2, 2006
The Final Seasons 7, 8 & 9 13 March 13, 2007
The Complete Series 194 October 23, 2007


Other releases

  • "I Love Lucy – Season 1" (9 separate discs labeled "Volumes", first volume released July 2, 2002, final volume released September 23, 2003)
  • "I Love Lucy – Season 1" (9 Volumes in box set, released September 23, 2003)
  • "I Love Lucy – 50th Anniversary Special" (1 disc, released October 1, 2002)


The DVD releases feature the syndicated heart opening, and offer the original broadcast openings as bonus features. Season 6 allows viewers to choose whether to watch the episodes with the original opening or the syndicated opening. The TV Land openings are not on these DVDs.

Initially, the first season was offered in volumes, with four episodes per disc. After the success of releasing seasons 2, 3, and 4 in slimpacks, the first season was re-released as a seven disc set, requiring new discs to be mastered and printed to include more episodes per disc so there would be fewer discs in the set. The individual volume discs for the first season are still in print, but are rare due to lack of shelf space.

Episodes feature English closed-captioning, but only Spanish subtitles.

Footnotes

  1. Sanders, Coyne Steven; Gilbert, Tom (1993). Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. William Morrow & Company, ISBN 978-0688112172
  2. {{cite web |url=http://www.tvguide.com/News-Views/Columnists/Ask-Matt/default.aspx?posting={25137E4C-7131-4DA3-B40C-300A87ACC9E1} |title=Ask Matt |publisher=TV Guide |date=April 22, 2005 |accessdate=2008-01-20}}


References

  • Garner, Joe (2002). Stay Tuned: Television's Unforgettable Moments (Andrews McMeel Publishing) ISBN 0-7407-2693-5
  • Andrews, Bart (1976). The 'I Love Lucy' Book (Doubleday & Company, Inc.)
  • Sanders, Coyne Steven; Gilbert, Tom (1993). Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (William Morrow & Company, Inc.)
  • McClay, Michael (1995). I Love Lucy: The Complete Picture History of the Most Popular TV Show Ever. Kensington Publishing Corp.


See also

Character actors favored by Lucille Ball who often played different supporting roles on I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show and/or Here's Lucy:











External links




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