I Love Lucy just might be the most famous and influential American sitcom of all time. The series premiered on CBS on October 15, 1951, and ran until May 6, 1957. Throughout it’s 180-episode run, Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, alongside Vivian Vance and William Frawley, brilliantly delivered to audiences some of the most iconic, not to mention downright hilarious, television moments in the medium’s history.
There really is no understating just how groundbreaking and relevant this quirky comedy was and still is. In August of 2019, to celebrate Lucille Ball’s birthday and the show she helped create’s enduring popularity all these decades later, entertainment content provider, Fathom Events, in conjunction with Regal Cinemas, held a special one-day-only event in which five uncut, full-length colorized episodes of the sitcom were aired in select theaters across America.
Lucille Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz along with her brother, Desi Jr., served as executive producer of the 2021 biopic film Being The Ricardos. Of all of the people who could have taken on that role, Lucie and Desi Jr certainly are the most qualified. They grew up immersed in all things I Love Lucy, and obviously being the children of the show’s two lead stars had a significant impact on their upbringing.
Leading up to the Fathom Event’s screenings, Lucie sat down with Jason Fraley of DC-area radio station WTOP to discuss the project. In that revealing interview, she discussed the five episodes that were selected for the screening. Lucie gave listeners several key insights into what made these episodes so memorable and trailblazing.
In this video, we’re going to be dissecting these five episodes t see what made them so iconic. Keep watching to learn all about the best I love Lucy Moments Exposed by Lucille Ball’s daughter.
In this episode, Ricky and Fred get upset over their wives’ frivolous spending. This conflict leads Lucy and Ethel to swap roles with their spouses to go work at a candy factory while the boys stay back at home to do all of the housework. Not only is this episode of the series one of the funniest, but it’s also generally considered to be one of the best all-around sitcom episodes of all time.
While the majority of television fans are familiar with this uproariously funny episode, there are a few behind-the-scenes secrets that you probably aren’t aware of.
For one thing, the woman making chocolates with Lucy, Amanda Milligan, was a real-life candy maker from See’s Candies in LA.
When preparing for the role, Milligan was apprehensive to slap Lucy as aggressively as the script called for. During rehearsal, she was very timid, and her slap looked quite unconvincing. So, in order to get the shot that they needed for optimal comedic effect, Lucy decided to slap her harder than they did in rehearsal in hopes that she would slap her back with matching intensity. The plan worked, and Milligan really let Ball have it.
Another interesting tidbit related to this episode involved the scene in which Ricky slipped on the overflowing rice back at home. The first slip was unscripted and accidental, but it received such a great reaction from the live audience that Desi slipped twice more on purpose. According to Lucie, he cracked two ribs in the process.
According to Lucie Arnaz, Lucille and Desi were inspired by the comedy of Charlie Chaplin when developing the episode. Later on, since all of the greats tend to steal from the greats, Laverne & Shirley stole from I Love Lucy. But instead of feeling slighted by this, Lucille and Desi took it as a compliment. After all, they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
LA At Last
In this episode, the Ricardos and the Mertzes go to the Brown Deroy restaurant shortly after arriving in Hollywood. There, a chance encounter with the film star William Hoiden takes a dramatic turn.
Discussing the episode, Lucie Arnaz noted that for many years stars and their agents considered being a guest on I Love Lucy as one of the most significant career boosts. After all, the show was number 1 in the ratings for much of it’s run.
Celebrity guest spots typically involved big-name stars randomly showing up at the Tropicana, where Ricky worked, or paying a visit to Lucy and Ricky’s apartment in New York. After doing this old shtick for a couple of seasons, however, they started thinking about how they could take things in a different direction.
When Ricky gets a job in Tinsel Town, that suddenly opened things up for all sorts of stars to appear on the show. This opportunity allowed the show to explore new stories where all sorts of famous people could make appearances in a manner that seemed more natural.
While Holden only appeared in one episode of I Love Lucy, that wasn’t the only time that he shared the screen with everyone’s favorite bumbling redhead. In the last scene in the episode, Lucy Ricardo fainted after sharing a kiss with Holden. In the 1949 film Miss Grant Takes Richmond, Ball and Holden enjoyed many more kisses onscreen.
Another intriguing factoid about this episode involves one of it’s less memorable characters. When CBS colorized the episode, they reinserted a previously lost scene in which we learned that Bobby the bellhop had a minor role in the film Julius Caesar.
The Million Dollar Idea
This episode saw Lucy and Ethel starting a business making salad dressings based on an old recipe from Lucy’s Aunt Martha. While their local TV advertising makes it appear as if the business venture is a success, Ricky discovers that the ladies are actually losing money on each jar. After relaying this information, the girls have to figure out a way to get their customers to cancel the orders they had already placed.
Lucie Arnaz was born just six weeks before her parents started filming I Love Lucy. In her interview with WTOP, she discussed how she remembered going down on set when she was around 6 years old, but much like everyone else in America, she saw the vast majority of episodes in reruns later on.
According to her, the Martha’s Salad Dressing episode was the one that the they first showed to US service members during the war. Previously, that kind of thing hadn’t been done.
Although the premise of the episode was perfect for comedic purposes, in reality, Ethel and Lucy could have simply shut down their business without having to go through the trouble of filling all of the orders since none of them were prepaid. But then again, if they had done that, obviously the episode would have lost all of it’s magic.
Lucy Does A TV Commercial
This fantastic episode gives the chocolate factory episode a run for it’s money. Many feel that it’s every bit as iconic and equally hilarious. In fact, TV Guide ranked it #2 on their list of the hundred greatest TV episodes of all time.
When Lucy becomes a pitchwoman advertising a medicinal tonic called Vitameatavegamin on Ricky’s show, she’s initially under the very reasonable impression that it contains, as it’s name would seem to imply, vitamins, meat, vegetables, and minerals. What she doesn’t know, however, is that it’s also 23 percent alcohol.
During her first take, Lucy takings a sip from the tonic bottle, which judging by her reaction, obviously tastes terrible. After a few more takes, she becomes increasingly intoxicated, and her speech begins to slur.
Lucy then gets taken backstage to rest until the commercial goes live. But when Ricky begins singing El Relicario, she staggers out on stage towards him while waving at the camera. She then starts singing with Ricky while repeating her sales pitch for the tonic in the middle of his performance. Ricky tries desperately to keep her off-camera, and after he’s done singing, he carries her off stage.
According to Lucie, her mother memorized the routine flawlessly, and they did it all in one take in front of the studio audience without having to do any retakes. At no point was she ever trying to be funny in an obvious way, instead the audience saw her reacting to everything that happened naturally. As such, the situation is extremely believable and undeniably hilarious.
In this first season episode, Lucy and Ethel stage a revolt over housework, demanding modern conveniences. Ricky and Fred place bets on how long the girls can survive without having access to anything invented after 1900 including the use of electricity. The end result is an absurdly large loaf of bread.
While from a modern perspective, the episode is all about exploring gender dynamics in the mid-20th century, but according to Lucie, it was less to do with that and more about finding comedy in how women of that era wanted more. Lucy definitely wanted more. She was a very frustrated performer who desperately wanted to be on stage. She had guts and gall, and if she wanted something, she became determined to find a way to get it.
Lucie told WTOP that it never occurred to her until recently that when baking the bread, the pan grew as well. The scene was written so brilliantly that most people probably never paused to consider it. The prop department made an actual loaf of bread that long, but how they managed to accomplish that feat, Lucie has no insight. After the scene was filmed, the crew sliced it up into hundreds of slices and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the audience.
At the end of the day, Lucie admits that it’s almost impossible to narrow down all of her favorite episodes down to just five. Whenever she sits down and watches the show on DVD, she’s often amazed by the sheer amount of hilarious scenes and episodes that people hardly ever talk about.
We’ve got to agree with her on that point. While Vitameatavegmin and the Chocolate Factory episodes are without a doubt, classics, in all 180 episodes of the series, I Love Lucy proved time and time again that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were comedic geniuses.
What was your favorite episode of I Love Lucy, and do you think that the show would have the same kind of impact on culture and society if it came out today? Let us know in the comments.