Lucille Ball ,Desi Arnaz; I Love Lucy Story
Vivian Vance, Lucille Ball, William Frawley and Desi Arnaz
The Greatest Show On Earth
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are two of the most recognized people in the world because of their hit show, I Love Lucy.
During my childhood I watched I Love Lucy every evening before dinner. I laughed out loud at Fred's (William Frawley's) grumpy old guy jokes, and excitedly watched in awe, the beautiful clothes of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, the polished and sophisticated manners, and of course Babalu. This was in the 70's, two decades after the shows were originally released. I was not on my own in my love for this old show, I talked to my classmates the next morning about the Lucy episode that was on last night, we were all Lucy fans.
I actually have never stopped watching the show ever since. I realize that they are all the same now, and the dialogue is never going to change, but I can watch this show as though it were the very first time over and over, and not only is it just as entertaining as it was the first time I saw it, but over the years some elements are even better, as I have grown to appreciate the subtle side, as well as the broad comedy.
The show developed out of a level of personal chaos. The marriage between Lucy and Desi was in serious trouble, due to Desi being on tour almost all the time, making it impossible for them to have any kind of family life. Lucy occupied her time as the main character in a successful radio program called 'My Favorite Husband" from 1948-1951 with Richard Denning playing her husband. This radio show was so successful that they decided to bring it into the new medium of a television show. Lucy insisted that her real husband play her husband on the show, but he was so different from Richard Denning in appearance and sound that it was hard for anyone to see him as Lucy's husband. The pilot episode was shot in 1951, followed by the first season in front of a studio audience, and Desi was greatly accepted as Ricky Ricardo.
Originally, when I was still a kid, and watching the show I liked Fred and Ethel the best. They were funny, and I loved Ethel's singing voice, and her sensible side. At this time, I would have to say that Desi is my favorite. He has to be the greatest straight man of all time. He makes the show in so many ways, because if he were not totally believable as the levelheaded husband, Lucy would not come across as funny. He pops his eyes out in total shock, and yells in Spanish when angry. He is truly a character, and I am so glad he ended up playing Ricky Ricardo.
William Frawley-1887-1966, who played Fred Mertz, had been in the business since 1916, playing in vaudeville and silent movies. By the time I Love Lucy was preparing to launch their show, Frawley was in desperate need of work, and called Lucy personally. Desi was delighted at the prospect of having the ex vaudevillian on the show, but was warned by several producers that he was an alcoholic and unreliable. Desi spoke directly to William about the issue and they both agreed that if he missed rehearsals he would be written off the show. He never missed rehearsal and was happy to be a part of a hit show. The only obstacle he had now was Ethel-Vivian Vance.
Vivian Vance-1909-1979, She got the part of Ethel after Desi saw her in a play at the La Jolla Playhouse and was immediately convinced she was perfect for the part of their landlady, Ethel Mertz. Vance was primarily a theater actress, who could sing and dance, often displaying some of those talents on I Love Lucy. Vance had been a great beauty and was actually the youngest person out of the foursome in I Love Lucy, and therefore, resented her character being married to an old man. When Frawley heard some of her bitter remarks, he took great offense, not to mention his needing the job desperately, he never forgave her and made wisecracks about her ever blossoming figure, adding to the tension. When the show was cancelled, Arnaz, offered them a chance at their own series called The Mertzes, and Frawley was thrilled, but Vance refused to ever work with Bill Frawley ever again. Frawley eventually went on to My Three Sons, and Vivian joined Lucy in the 1960s for The Lucy Show.
Desilu would become a major success as a business empire, producing not only shows that Lucy and Desi starred in, but many other hit shows of the 1950s, making Lucy one of the most admired female entrepreneurs of her time.
More I Love Lucy Cast
Elizabeth Patterson-1875-1966, played Mrs Trumbull. She had been a stage actress from 1890's-1920s, and began her movie career at age 51 in 1926. She had a long successful movie career, appearing in Dinner at Eight, Pal Joey, and They Call it Sin. At 77 she made her very first I Love Lucy appearance, not as Mrs. Trumbull, but as the town Mayor, in an episode about Lucy and Ricky getting a Marriage License. The following year she began appearing as Mrs. Trumbull. She remained active as an actress until 1961.
Lucy's Mother, Played by Kathryn Card
From Mimmie Finch to Mrs. McGillicuddy
Kathryn Card 1892-1964, played Lucy's mother so well, miss pronouncing Ricky's name, calling him Mickey, or Xavier Cougat. Some of her episodes are the most popular, and well liked to this day. She was very active in the 40's through the 60's in bit parts and minor roles. It is difficult to find any trace of her before that time. She is such a wonderful actress that I just recently discovered she played a character on an I Love Lucy episode named Minnie Finch, in the episode titled The Fan Magazine Interview. She looks disheveled, and speaks in a gruff, slang voice, the only way to really make the connection is to read the credits. One year later she was cast as the dim witted, but smooth speaking Mrs. McGillicuddy. She continued to make occasional appearances in the Lucy Desi comedy Hour, and her final appearance was in 1964 The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
Lucy & Desi
Last of I Love Lucy
The show ran from 1951-1957, and continued for hour long episodes from 1957-1960 under the name, The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour. At this time though, the marriage was again in serious trouble. The success of the show the couple together for years, but now all that was wrong was coming back to haunt them. There were arguments on the set, and a general feeling of tension. The show came to an end and so did their marriage.
My Favorite Husband
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