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I Love Lucy History & Trivia

In 1950, CBS asked Lucille Ball to take her hit radio show, My Favorite Husband, to TV, and Lucy insisted that the man playing the role of husband be her own husband, Desi Arnaz. Desi had been on the road touring as the bandleader of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra and away from Lucille for months at a time. The two wanted more than anything to start a family, and were growing increasingly desperate at the lack of time they were able to spend in each other’s company. When CBS executives balked because of Desi’s Latin looks and Cuban accent, the couple decided to prove that the county would embrace them as a couple so they embarked on a tour of the U.S. cities where they performed skits they would later use in the show. The nation fell in love with their antics and I Love Lucy was born.

Back in the day, most TV 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. But since Lucy was pregnant at the time (with daughter, Lucie), and she and Desi wanted to raise their family in California, they insisted on filming the show in Hollywood. Knowing that Lucille worked best in front of a live audience, Desi worked with the best in the business to work out a way to shoot the show on 35mm film using three cameras in front of a live studio audience, a technique now standard for most present day sitcoms. The show premiered on October 15, 1951 at 9 PM on the CBS Network.

The opening that the vast majority of today’s viewers see, featuring the I Love Lucy credits over a heart on satin image, was created specifically for syndication. As originally broadcast, the episodes opened with animated matchstick figures of Lucy and Desi making reference to whomever the particular episode's sponsor was. These sequences were created by the famous animation team of Hanna and Barbera, who declined screen credit, because they were legally under exclusive contract to MGM Studios at the time.

Writers Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, Jr. wrote all 127 shows of the first four seaons. In 1955, they were joined by the writing team of Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf who remained with the show until its conclusion. Lucy and Desi were written as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo – she a housewife desperate to get into show business and he a bandleader desperate to keep her out. The Ricardos were joined by co-stars Ethel (Vivian Vance) and Fred (William Frawley) Mertz, the Ricardo’s landlords and best pals. In 1953 the foursome welcomed the birth of Ricky Ricardo, Jr., a casting addition that occurred when Lucille Ball became pregnant with real-life son, Desi Arnaz, Jr.

In 1957 at 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 each season. Instead, they extended I Love Lucy to 60 minutes, featuring a big guest star each episode. They renamed the show to The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show that was later changed, for syndication, to The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Thirteen hour-long episodes aired from 1957 to 1960. During its run, I Love Lucy and its stars earned four Primetime Emmy Awards. All four actors have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

FUN TRIVIA

Fred’s middle name is Hobart. Lucy’s is Esmerelda. Ricky’s is Alberto. Ethel’s was at various times Louise, Roberta, and Mae.

Because of limited space on the sound stage, the Ricardo's bedroom and the Mertz's living room are on the same set with different furniture.

The apartment building address that the foursome lived in was 623 E. 68th Street. However, E. 68th Street in Manhattan only goes up to 600 - which means that the I Love Lucy show's building was in the middle of the East River!

When Lucille Ball was pregnant with Little Ricky, CBS network censors wouldn't permit the scripts to say "pregnant." The writers had to use the word "expecting."

Lucille Esmeralda McGillicuddy weighed 110 lbs. on her wedding day.

The first time Ricky comes in the door and says, “Lucy, I’m home!” occurs in episode 10 (The Fur Coat). He will utter these famous words four more times. In the later years, this was changed to “Honey I’m home.”

In episode 13 (The Benefit) Ethel’s women’s club is called the Middle East 68th Street Woman’s Club. In later episodes she and Lucy are members of the Wednesday Afternoon Fine Arts League. Fred and Ricky sometimes call it the Wednesday Afternoon Fang and Claw Society, among other names.

In episode 30 (Lucy Does a TV Commercial), Vivian Vance does not appear. The script says she was visiting her mother. It doesn’t say where her mother lives, but in episode 113 (Ethel’s Home Town) her father is living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Ricardo’s anniversary is said to be on the 19th, although no month is specified. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had two marriage ceremonies -- the first on November 30, 1940 at the Byram River Beagle Club in Greenwich, CT. Years later, on June 19, 1949 they renewed their vows in a Catholic ceremony at Our Lady of the Valley Church in Canoga Park, California, near their home.

Lucie Arnaz never appeared in an episode of I Love Lucy. Desi Arnaz, Jr. appeared in the crowd scene of the final episode (The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue) in 1957 when he was four years old. Ricky Ricardo, Jr. was played by a total of six child actors.

I LOVE LUCY QUOTES

Lucy Ricardo: “Well, I’m your vida-vida-vigee-vat girl. Are you tired, rundown, listless? Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular? Well are you? The answer to all your problems is in this little old bottle. Vitameatavegamin. (looks at bottle) That’s it. Vitameatavegamin contains vitamins and meat and megetables and vinerals. (hiccup) So why don’t you join the thousands of happy, peppy people and get a great big bottle of uh, vita-veedee-vidi-meanie-minie-moe-amin. I’ll tell you what you have to do -- you have to take a whole tablespoon after every meal. (she can’t spoon it out so she drinks from bottle) It’s so tasty too. Just like candy. So, everybody get a bottle of...this stuff.”

Ricky Ricardo: “What do you know about rice?” Fred Mertz: “Well, I had it thrown at me on one of the darkest days in my life.”

Ethel Mertz: “Where you afraid you'd lose me?” Fred Mertz: “I'll say, that outfit you're wearing is rented.”

Lucy Ricardo: “We have to find Sylvia Collins a husband, but where? Ethel Mertz: “I'll make the sacrifice, she can have mine.”

Ricky Ricardo: “Fred, I've got an awful problem on my hands.” Fred Mertz: “You should have thought about that before you married her.”

Lucy Ricardo: “What's Aunt Martha trying to do, poison me?”

Lucy's Doctor from Jamestown: “Hello, Mr. Ricardo. I'm the man who brought your wife into the world!” Ricky Ricardo: “I don't know whether to thank you or punch you in the nose!”

Ethel Mertz: “I refuse to go anywhere with someone who thinks I am a hippopotamus.” Ricky Ricardo: “Lucy, is this true?” Lucy Ricardo: “No, I just implied that she was a little hippy...though she has got the biggest potamus I've ever seen.”

Ethel Mertz: “Gee, this high altitude sure gives me an appetite.” Fred Mertz: “What's your excuse at sea level?”

Ethel Mertz: “Imagine me meeting a Queen face to face, I'm scared.” Fred Mertz: “You're scared? Think of the Queen.”

Lucy Ricardo: “Gee, did you hear that, honey? It's going to be called “Bitter Grapes." I wonder what part they want me for.” Fred Mertz: “Oh, you're probably going to be one of the bunch.”

Fred Mertz: “Two other people wanted to buy this car.” Lucy Ricardo: “Where were they from...the Smithsonian Institute?”

Fred Mertz: “Now, don't make fun of us doughboys.” Ethel Mertz: “Doughboys?!” Lucy Ricardo: “Whoever put the dough in that boy used too much yeast.”

Ricky Ricardo: “Honey, you can't go running around Paris all by yourself.” Lucy Ricardo: “Why not?” Ricky: “What about your French?” Lucy: “What about my French?” Ricky: “Well, Paris is a big city, and not knowing the language, you're liable to get in a lot of trouble.” Lucy: “Well, when you first came to the U.S., you didn't get into a lot of trouble because you didn't know the language, did you?” Ricky: “I'm married aren't I? She told me that "I Do" meant "Pleased to meet you," and then she introduced me to the preacher.”

TOP 10 FAN FAVORITE EPISODES

Episode #30 “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” (a.k.a. Vitameatavegamin)

Ricky is hosting a big TV show and Lucy wants to be part of it. She schemes her way into the part of the Vitameatavegamin Girl.  Rehearsing over and over with the 23-percent alcohol tonic, Lucy begins to feel a bit woozy. By the time the live show begins she is totally drunk and ruins Ricky’s big number. Classic television comedy.—Season 1, May 5, 1952

Episode #39 “Job Switching” (a.k.a. The Chocolate Factory)

Who works harder, men or women? Lucy and Ethel will get outside jobs and Ricky and Fred will do the housework. Easier said than done – Lucy and Ethel’s stint in the chocolate factory is no more of a success than Ricky and Fred’s attempt to make dinner for four.  Fudge anyone? A true classic, and one of Lucille Ball’s favorites.—Season 2, September 15, 1952

Episode #150 “Lucy’s Italian Movie”

On the train to Rome, Lucy is “discovered” by an Italian film director who wants her to act in his new film, Bitter Grapes. In order to get a feel for the grape industry, Lucy disobeys Ricky’s order and spends a day at a local vineyard. She is chosen to do the “stomping,” and ends up getting stomped on by her co-worker in the vat!—Season 5, April 16, 195

Episode #50 “Lucy is Enceinte”

Lucy goes to the doctor feeling “dawncy” and discovers she is going to have a baby! Try as she might, she can’t seem to find the perfect moment to tell Ricky. In desperation, she goes to the Tropicana and leaves an anonymous note for Ricky to sing, “We’re Having a Baby, My Baby and Me.” He finally realizes it’s Lucy and the two dissolve into tears.—Season 2, December 8, 1952

Episode #114 “L.A. at Last”

Finally, the gang has hit Tinseltown. At the Brown Derby restaurant, Lucy, Ethel, and Fred see many actors. Lucy gets caught spying on her idol, William Holden, and causes a pie to hit him in the face as she flees in embarrassment. Later Ricky brings Bill home to meet her! What else can a girl do but set her own nose on fire?—Season 3, February 7, 1955

Episode #124 “Harpo Marx”

Lucy has told Carolyn Appleby she is hosting a big party for the stars and now she is in a pickle. She and Ethel arrange to have Carolyn “lose” her glasses so she can’t tell the difference between the real movie stars and Lucy in movie star masks! But when the real Harpo (and his harp) shows up at the door, things get interesting.—Season 4, May 9, 1955

Episode #29 “The Freezer”

Without their husbands’ permission, Lucy and Ethel buy a huge freezer so they can buy meat in bulk. They order two sides of beef for a total cost of $483!  They try to sell some at a local butcher shop with no luck. When Ricky wants to see the freezer Lucy runs down to hide the meat, and gets locked in the freezer in the process!—Season 1, April 28, 1952

Episode #132 “The Great Train Robbery”

The gang is set to head back east but the usual mishaps prevail. First Lucy leaves her purse at the station, then Mother and Little Ricky switch compartments, and finally Lucy gets involved with a jewelry heist! Through it all our redheaded heroine manages to stop the train, drive the conductor out of his mind, and save the day.—Season 5, October 31, 1955

Episode 140 “Bon Voyage”

The gang is finally off to Europe – or so they think. At the last minute Lucy runs off the ship to give Little Ricky one last kiss. She gets her skirt stuck in a bicycle chain and the ship pulls off without her. She misses the pilot boat, and has only one other chance of getting on board – she will be flown out by helicopter and lowered onto the deck!—Season 5, January 16, 1956

Episode #145 “Paris at Last”

When Lucy unknowingly exchanges her U.S. dollars for phony French francs the trouble begins. After she insults a chef by asking for ketchup for her escargot, she tries to pay with counterfeit money and then ends up in the Paris police station. Only a drunk who speaks Spanish and German stands between her and the Bastille!—Season 5, February 27, 1956