We All Love Lucy
January 19, 1953: “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” airs on I Love Lucy. The 30 minute comedy was the 16th episode of season two. It was an unprecedented pairing of the fictive Lucy Ricardo’s and the real Lucille Ball’s pregnancy. When it aired on this date, 72% of American homes were watching – what was then 44 million viewers. It had been filmed on November 14, 1952 but even so, just twelve hours before the broadcast, Lucille Ball had given birth to Desi Arnaz, Jr. via cesarean section. There were more Americans watching Lucy’s typical bizarre way of doing things than the inauguration of President Dwight D Eisenhower which took place the following evening.
A rabbi, a minister, and a priest reviewed the script written by Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Davis, and Jess Oppenheimer to make sure it was not offensive. The January 19, 1953 issue of Newsweek featured the program as its cover story even though the program had not yet aired when the issue went to press. The first issue of TV Guide was dated April 3, 1953 and had a cover picture of newborn Desi Arnaz, Jr. featured and captioned as “Lucy’s $50,000,000 Baby”. There had been much speculation about the sex of the upcoming baby and it was kept secret until the show aired. When Desi was born, headlines proclaimed “Lucy sticks to script; a boy it is!” and “TV was right: a boy for Lucille” and finally “What the Script Ordered”.
I Love Lucy was an American situation comedy that ran for six seasons from October 15, 1951 to May 6, 1957. There were 181 episodes, including one lost Christmas episode and the original pilot. It starred Lucile Ball and Desi Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (and after this episode) Little Ricky. Their neighbors and friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz, were played by William Frawley and Vivian Vance respectively. Ricky Ricardo was a singer/bandleader and Lucy was his devoted wife filled with ambition but terribly naïve. Lucy desperately wanted to make it in show business. The Mertzes were former vaudevillians, which helped to fuel Lucy’s desires to make it in the business.
Lucille Ball was a comedienne, model, and actress as well as a studio executive. She was born in New York in 1911. Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III, aka Desi Arnaz, was born in Cuba in 1917. The couple married in 1940, eleven years before I Love Lucy first came to the small screen. The couple met while filming Too Many Girls and they eloped soon after. Arnaz was drafted in World War II, but saw limited service. The couple nearly divorced in 1944 but reconciled. Just one month before turning 40, Lucille gave birth to a daughter on July 17, 1951 and had her son on this date. Lucille died in 1989 at the age of 77. Desi died in 1986 at the age of 69. Both of their children were entertainers.
One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.
The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.
Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.
I’m not funny. What I am is brave. – all from Lucille Ball
Also on this day: Electrifying – In 1883, Roselle, New Jersey became the first electrified community.
LISA – In 1983, Apple introduced a new computer.
Not Commando – In 1935, Marshall Field and Company first sold Samuel T. Cooper’s new product – the Jockey brief.
Liquid Fire – In 1915, a patent was granted for a neon lamp.
Dissatisfied Citizen – In 1661, Thomas Venner was executed in the fashion of the time.