Little Bits of History

You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 15, 2011

I Love Lucy

October 15, 1951: A new Situation Comedy appears on CBS when I Love Lucy premieres. The 30-minute show was about a Cuban-born bandleader, Ricky Ricardo, and his zany wife, Lucy. Their friends and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz, rounded out the early cast. Desi Arnaz created the show based on an older radio program, My Favorite Husband, in which Lucille Ball played Liz Cooper.

In the 1950s, most sitcoms were shown live from New York City and were filmed with low cost 35mm or 16mm kinescope technique for broadcast across the rest of the country. Ms Ball was pregnant with her first child and preferred to work out of Hollywood, home to the real life couple. Karl Freund, a cinematographer of several 1920s and 30s movies, was hired to film for Desilu, the company producing the sitcom. Filming was done in front of a live audience with three 35mm cameras, a first for television sitcoms.

Lucille Ball was 40 when the series began, 6 years older than her husband, Desi Arnaz. The show had many autobiographical facts: Lucy Ricardo shared the same birthday as Lucille Ball. The Ricardos were married in the same place as the Arnazes. Vivian Vance played Ethel Mertz and was only two years older than Ms Ball. William Frawley, Fred Mertz, was 64 when the series began and Fred was a WWI vet and a parsimonious soul who lived through the Great Depression.

I Love Lucy ran until May 6, 1957 with 181 episodes (two were “lost”). The show received Emmy Awards for Best Situation Comedy for two years, Best Comedienne, Best Series Supporting Actress, and Best Actress along with a host of other nominations. Ball’s second pregnancy was incorporated into the program and when “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” aired on January 19, 1953 (the same day that Desi Arnaz, Jr. was born) it captured 68% of the viewing audience. Little Ricky was added to the cast for the remainder of the show.

“Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!” – Ricky Ricardo

“Madam, it doesn’t seem to be getting through to you, but this seat is taken.” – Lucy Ricardo, when a large woman had just sat on her

Ricky: Everybody knows you can get around a lady with a little sweet talk.
Fred: That’s alright for Lucy, but it’s a little longer trip around Ethel.

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

Also on this day:
Rostov Ripper – In 1992, Andrei Chikatilo, of Russia, was found guilty of 52 murders.
Going Postal – In 1888, a letter was received, purportedly from Jack the Ripper.

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