The iconic sitcom I Love Lucy took the world by storm during the 1950s. Even today, it remains one of the most popular shows in America. However, producers were hiding a lot of secrets from the audiences, some of which were even not known to its main actors. Be the first one to find out!
1. Couple On-And-Off The Screen
When CBS executives approached Lucille Ball to turn her popular radio show "My Favorite Husband” into a TV series, she immediately agreed, but with one demand. The demand was that her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz, would play the role of her on-screen hubby. Executives said no one would believe she was married to a "foreign” man with an accent. At that time, the couple had already been married for more than 10 years.
2. Almost No "Ricky Ricardo"
The role Desi Arnaz played was originally going to be named Larry Lopez, but it was changed to Ricky Ricardo, as producers thought Larry and Lucy was a horrible alliteration.
3. Dream Of A Lifetime
Lucille Ball initially didn't want to make the jump from movie to TV. But then, she had a dream in which Carole Lombard, a deceased friend and comedic actress, convinced her to "take a chance” with the TV gig. Ball followed Lombard's advice in real life, and it apparently worked.
4. Big Win
Ball and Arnaz demanded the show be filmed on 35 mm film, which is expensive, and in Hollywood, not New York City. CBS didn't agree at first, but the couple resolved their differences by getting ownership of the show. Desilu Productions, founded by them, made around $40 million from this move, a staggering $256 million in today's economy.
5. A Live Show Before 300 Audiences
The show was shot in front of a live audience of 300. It was done from the very first shoot to the last. Amazingly, there were many "one-take" scenes. Desi Arnaz later claimed that Lucille Ball worked better if there were real people watching her.
6. A Narrow Escape
Do you remember the iconic grape stomping scene in the episode "Lucy's Italian Movie”? Ball was actually choking on the grape and continued to film. The crew didn't realize that until the camera was off.
7. A Strange Rule On Set
Desi Arnaz's unique accent attracted a lot of attention on the show, but if anybody other than Lucy made fun of the way he spoke, they were usually met with silence from the audience. It was an unwritten rule that only Lucy could make fun of Desi's pronunciations.
8. The Laughter Bonuses
The show had one tradition that lasted until the very end: Every time an actor could get spontaneous applause from the audience, that person would be given a silver dollar after the scene.
9. Real-Life Pregnancy
During the filming in 1952, Lucille Ball became pregnant, and regulations were put into place requiring they use the word "expecting” instead of "pregnant.” So, a minister, priest, and rabbi (no joke intended) reviewed every episode to ensure no viewers were offended by the pregnancy.
10. Unprecedented Move
After Lucille Ball gave birth to their son, Desi Arnaz wanted his wife to rest at home without having to shoot the next episode. He somehow convinced CBS to air previous episodes again. From then on, the TV rerun was born and has since become a staple in the industry.
11. Such A Hit
The series was such a hit that parts of American life would shut down while it aired. Telephone and water usage would drop dramatically over the program's half-hour duration, and even department stores would close early due to a lack of customers.
12. Couple Onscreen But Foes Offscreen
Vivian Vance and William Frawley, who played the couple, Ethel and Fred, were more than 20 years apart in age in real life, and that gap caused some tension on set. They reportedly didn't get along well and often called each other names. However, it wasn't until years after the show ended that their co-stars realized their true relationship.
13. Desi's Photographic Memory
Desi Arnaz had such an amazing memory that before every single scene, he could memorize everyone's lines with just one script reading. The crew said he never messed up his lines despite doing little preparation.
14. Lucille Ball's Natural Hair Color
The bright red hair wasn't Ball's natural hair color. She was actually born as a brunette. Before landing her iconic role as Lucy, the actress had dyed her hair blonde for the movie DuBarry was a Lady.
15. The Mysterious Lyrics
The theme song's lyrics were sung on the show only once, in the episode, "Lucy's Last Birthday.” The lyrics are: "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."
16. The Most Deceptive Scene
Remember the famous scene where Lucille Ball pretended to become increasingly drunk on the special product, the Vitameatavegamin? She was actually drinking apple pectin out of the Vitameatavegamin bottle.
17. Clutch Contract Clauses
William Frawley was such a big fan of the New York Yankees that his contract stated he could miss work if the team was playing in a World Series game. Frawley was lucky he (to?) put the clause in, as the Yankees competed in the game all but one year during the show's run.
18. Mom's Ad Libs
Whenever Lucy got herself into a crazy situation, someone from the audience would cry "Uh-Oh!” That person was Lucille Ball's actual mother, as she was present at every shooting. Glen Glenn, the sound producer for the show, even used the "Uh-Oh!” for other shows!
19. The Queen Of 'TV Guide'
Lucille Ball was featured on the first cover of TV Guide. In fact, she went on to appear on the cover 39 times throughout her career. That's by far the most TV Guide appearances of a celebrity. Given that she revolutionized TV sitcoms, she certainly deserves this honor.
20. The Real Fred And Ethel Mertz
The Ricardos' best friends got their names from people close to Lucille Ball. Fred came from Ball's brother, while Ethel was named after Broadway star Ethel Merman. Coincidentally, Vivian Vance, who played the role of Ethel on the show, was an understudy for Merman years earlier.
21. Real Life Offscreen
When she wasn't filming or managing her production studio, Ball led a very ordinary life. She enjoyed gardening, painting, and swimming. It seemed like her "every-guy” persona from the show was merged into real life.
22. Poor Guy
All four leading actors earned widespread acclaim for their performances, but it was Desi Arnaz who never received an Emmy nomination. William Frawley was nominated five times but never won. Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance both won for their roles, and Ball won four times of 13 nominations.
23. An Ever-Growing Legacy
I Love Lucy ended in 1957, but it remains one of the most popular TV shows in America. The series has become a big part of the pop culture consciousness since its debut. It's still broadcasted in syndication all over the world, with episodes watched by 40 million Americans a year alone. In addition, merchandise with Lucy's signature red locks is still in demand.