I Love Lucy Anniversary


Cast of I Love Lucy

On Oct. 15th 1951 the first episode of I Love Lucy aired on CBS stations. Lucille Ball had previously been in a radio show named My Favorite Husband that was very popular. That radio show was similar to what I Love Lucy would become except that her husband on the radio show was a banker. CBS wanted to move the radio show to TV but Lucy said that she wanted to have her husband, Desi Arnaz also star in the show. CBS said that people wouldn’t believe that an all-American woman would be married to a Cuban band leader. To prove that they could do comedy together, Lucy and Desi took an act on the road. CBS commissioned a pilot in which Desi’s character was named Larry Lopez. I have seen the pilot and the scenery is rather flimsy. The plot of the pilot was later used in the series as “The Audition.” In that episode Ricky tries to keep Lucy away from the club while he does a TV audition, but when a clown has an accident and can’t make it, Lucy shows up in his place.

When CBS finally decided to air the show, it was filmed in Hollywood rather than being broadcast live from New York as most comedy shows were done at the time. Also to save on production time, they used 3 cameras to film the show. So each half hour usually was recorded in about an hour. Plus they used a live audience for true reactions to the comedy. By filming the shows, we are still able to see the shows after all these these years.

The series is notable in that in the second season Lucy’s real life pregnancy was worked in to the show. As it worked out, Lucy gave birth to Desi Jr. on the same day as the birth of Little Ricky on the TV show. As Little Ricky grew he was played by Keith Thibodeaux (billed as Richard Keith) who was a drummer at an early age.

I Love Lucy” airs somewhere every day on TV and probably will for another 62 years.