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At any given time, someone around the world is watching an episode of I Love Lucy. It’s aired as a rerun in 44 countries, and to me, it’s timeless. I Love Lucy was first aired on October 15, 1951, so tomorrow, October 15th, has been deemed National I Love Lucy Day! The series ran until 1957 with 180 episodes.
Although I never got to watch it live, every time I watch one of the 180 episodes I think back to a simpler time when my family would gather around the most prominent piece of furniture in our tiny home, the rabbit-eared, black-and-white television set. We had only three channels, but we felt like we were fortunate to have the goliath tv set that entertained and amazed us.
I know you have probably seen some of the recent biopic movies about the making of I Love Lucy, but I thought I’d throw in some tidbits that you may have missed or didn’t realize about this epic series.
During the 50s, movies were made in Hollywood and television shows were filmed in New York City. This move from the norm established Hollywood as the capital of broadcasting in the United States.
Lucy had starred in a popular radio comedy called My Favorite Husband opposite Richard Denning as her husband. It was written by Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, Jr. This talented trio went on to write I Love Lucy. But, when television executives decided to make the radio show a sitcom there was hesitation in casting Lucy’s real life husband, Desi Arnaz as her tv husband because of the fear that audiences would not accept an ”interracial” couple. Lucy held her ground, refusing to do the show if Desi were not cast. Guess she showed them.
Lucille Ball was the first woman to be pregnant on national tv. So as not to offend anyone, she was described as “expecting” rather than pregnant. During Lucy’s on-screen pregnancy she received hundreds of thousands of letters from American women. When her real life son was born she received 30 thousand congratulatory telegrams.
William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz on the show, was a devout baseball fan. He had it written into his contract that he was excused from work when the Yankees were playing in the World Series of 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956 and 1958. His character was written out of two episodes because of this.
The I Love Lucy Christmas show was the first holiday special in the history of television. When the show was syndicated for re-runs it was removed. During the Christmas holidays, in 2013, it was revived and a colorized version was aired with 8.7 million viewers tuning in.
Lucy and Desi were the first millionaires of the television industry.
I Love Lucy was taped live, in front of a studio audience. So, the laughs you hear are real laughs rather than canned audio effects. The audience consisted of 300 ticketed viewers who were mainly tourists visiting Hollywood. Before each taping, Desi would emcee, introducing the cast, to warm up the audience for the show.
Lucy’s mother, DeDe, attended every single episode taping. You can hear Dede’s distinctive laugh on the show ‘s soundtrack.
Originally the credit sequence for I Love Lucy was a cartoon animation done by the Hanna-Barbera Studio. Later this credits were replaced by the satin heart.
In 1952, I Love Lucy hit #1 in the Nielsen tv ratings. It stayed there for 4 of its 6 seasons.
The episode when Little Ricky is born, “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” was viewed by 44 million people, roughly 72% of American households. This was 15 million more viewers than saw President Eisenhower’s inauguration the next day.
Lucy’s personal favorite episode was “Lucy’s Italian Movie” where she hilariously stomps grapes at a winery in Italy. It’s also Wimpy Girl’s favorite episode. See above cartoon. Duh.
So how are you going to celebrate I Love Lucy Day tomorrow?
You could display your Lucy collectibles in an honored place in your home, or you could do an I Love Lucy watching marathon or throw an I Love Lucy party.
I think that Capt’n Clean and I may celebrate everything “Lucy” with a nice “already stomped” bottle of Italian wine. Bravo Lucy! Amo Lucia! Viva il vino, Wimpy Girl!
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