After being on the air for six seasons consisting of 180 half-hour episodes, the hugely-influential and beloved American sitcom, I Love Lucy wrapped up with it’s unexpected and somewhat anticlimatic series finally on May 6, 1957. Cast members Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley, and Vivian Vance had developed quite a following of devoted fans in the time that the show they helped create was on the airwaves. And when it was time for us all to bid them farewell, it was a very bittersweet moment.
Join Facts verse as we look at the final send-off episode of the pioneering series. We’ll also discuss the I Love Lucy spin-off shows that filled some of that hole that was left in the hearts of fans after the series went off the air. And if you’re curious about whether or not Lucille Ball’s and Desi Arnez’s divorce played any role in the show’s run time, we’ll also touch on that a little bit later, so make sure you stick around for the whole video.
The Final Episode Of I Love Lucy
Over the six years that I Love Lucy had been on the air, it had succeeded in creating some of the most beloved and iconic moments in the history of television.
The final episode of I Love Lucy was titled “The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue”. It’s plot involved Lucy organizing a Revolutionary Day Celebration which, as it’s title would suggest, included a statue dedication. Ricky was all set to give his dedication speech when Lucy accidentally broke the statue. Not wanting to get in trouble for her blunder, Lucy then took the statue’s place after covering herself in stone makeup. But as usual, Lucy’s plan got foiled when a dog started licking her face – thus, blowing her cover. In usual I Love Lucy fashion, the episode’s slapstick plot led to many laughs and amusing moments.
The episode was certainly funny, but it doesn’t stand out as particularly different from many of the other episodes of the series. And it certainly didn’t seem like the most cathartic end to a six-year journey. The thing is, although “The Ricardos Dedicate A Statue” was I Love Lucy’s final episode, it’s unlikely that any of the show’s cast members knew it would be the final installment at the time – not even Ball or Arnaz.
That explains why the episode lacks any kind of emotional farewells and doesn’t feature a plot that satisfyingly wrapped things up. After six seasons, audiences at least deserved some kind of goodbye, but they weren’t given that luxury. It’s not that the episode lacked spirit. Ball was once again seen in her element, but at the end of the day, it still felt very anticlimactic.
Not to get too sidetracked, but if you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to show us a little support by giving ti a like and by subscribing to Facts Verse if you haven’t already. And stay tuned to learn about some of the follow-up series that Ball took part in in the years after I Love Lucy’s cancelation.
The Reason Why I Love Lucy Was Canceled
There are actually a few different factors that played a part in I Love Lucy’s cancellation. For one thing, the show’s stars were starting to grow tired of the weekly grind of putting together a half-show show. After the network announced that they didn’t want any more 30-minute series, Ball and Arnaz were given a chance to tackle more ambitious projects. This ultimately led to the I Love Lucy spin-off series that would air in the years that would follow.
Desi had first suggested the idea of doing an hour-long show to CBS in 1954, but at the time, they weren’t interested in going that route, But by 1957, Desi could tell that everyone was starting to feel a little burned out on the weekly half-hour format. So, he made up his mind and made it happen.
The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour was a collection of thirteen hour-long specials that aired between 1957 and 1960. It was originally aired as part of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, and It also initially was billed as The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for it’s first season. The show was the direct successor to I Love Lucy and featured all of it’s predecessor main cast members.
The first five episodes were aired in 1957, and the remaining eight ran periodically over the next several years.
The transition to The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour’s production schedule alleviated some of that fatigue that the cast had been feeling after grinding away every week on I Love Lucy. Desilu Productions, the company that Ball and Arnaz had founded, produced the show, and it was primarily filmed at their studio in Los Angeles while occasionally filming on location at places like Lake Arrowhead, Las Vegas and Sun Valley, Idaho.
CBS would later rerun the show in the summers of 1962-1967. After these repeats were aired, I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour went into syndication.
Ball And Arnaz’s Divorce
After 20 often turbulent years of marriage, Lucille Ball divorced Desi Arnaz on March 4, 1960 – just three days after Desi’s 43rd birthday and two days after the 13th and final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy hour aired. Their split was one of the highest-profile divorces in American pop culture history.
When Ball filed the divorce paperwork with the Santa Monica Superior Court, she claimed that being married to Desi was ‘a nightmare’ and that it wasn’t like anything that people saw on I Love Lucy. In the two decades that the couple were wed, Ball had to contend with Arnaz’s alcoholism and philandering ways.
Evidently, Ball eventually caught wind of her husband’s infidelity when she was presented with a news article while on the set of I Love Lucy that discussed Arnaz’ womanizing and unfaithfulness. Lucille took the magazine back to her dressing room while the show’s cast and crew braced for her anticipated meltdown. But instead of becoming irate, when she emerged, she merely tossed the magazine at Desi and said something along the lines of ‘I could have told them worse than that.’
You see, when Ball was presented with reports of her husband’s cheating ways, these only confirmed that she had already long suspected. It’s not as if the two had this kind of fairytale-ish marriage. Desi was a heavy drinker and couldn’t keep his hands off women that weren’t his wife. Fame has a way of doing that to some people – and he certainly didn’t do much to hide his affairs.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s Last Kiss
Just two days before they got divorced, Ball and Arnaz shared their last kiss at the close of the last episode of their Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour series. This closing episode was titled “Lucy Meets the Mustache.”
Even though their marriage was already destined for the chopping block, this intimate and heartfelt final moment was a fitting end to a show that carried on the legacy of one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.
After Ball filed for divorce, she reportedly was very despondent for quite some time. She crashed on friend’s couches for a while before eventually landing work on a Broadway show that ended up flopping.
But instead of giving up, Ball moved on. She refused to let her failed marriage define her career. The end of that relationship may have caused The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour to end, but it also opened up a number of new doors for the spunky redhead.
A year after divorcing Arnaz, Ball moved to New York. After appearing in that unsuccessful Broadway offering, Wildcat, she married her second husband, comedian Gary Morton.
Ball returned to TV in early 1962 when she appeared in a CBS special called The Good Years alongside Henry Fonda. However, she was fairly adamant that she would not be returning to weekly television.
During this time, Desilu Productions was dealing with some troubles. In the spring of 1961, four of Desilu’s comedies were canceled. Arnaz then offered Ball an opportunity to do another weekly sitcom – the very thing that she claimed she wanted nothing to do with.
The Lucy Show premiered on CBS later that year. The show was Lucille’s follow-up to I Love Lucy, but it was never meant to last longer than a single season. It was intended to be a stop-gap measure and nothing more.
Thinking that it would only be a temporary project, Ball agreed to do the show under the conditions that it would only be shown on Monday nights – the same night of the week that I Love Lucy aired – and that she would be joined by her former I Love Lucy co-star Vivian Vance as well as her team of writers from that show.
After CBS agreed to these terms, The Lucy Show premiered on Monday, October 1, 1962. Despite only being imagined as a short-lived series, The Lucy Show went on to air six seasons consisting of 156 episodes.
After The Lucy Show came to a close in 1968, Ball went on to star on another sitcom, The Lucy Show. From 1968 to 1974.
The program’s premise was a departure from The Lucy Show. In this series, Ball’s character Lucy Hinkley Carter was living in Los Angeles as a widow while raising her two kids, Kim and Craig, portrayed by her real-life son and daughter Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz.
The series aired 144 episodes over six seasons.
In 1972, Balled sustained a leg fracture in a skiing accident. Because of her injury, Ball spent the majority of the 1972-1973 season in a leg cast. This was explained in the show by her character Lucy Carter also breaking her leg, but Ball was still left with decreased ability to do physical comedy as a result of this injury.
By 1973, Here’s Lucy was struggling in the ratings. For the first time in it’s run is was no longer in the top 10. After dropping down to #15, Ball decided that she wanted the show to come to an end at the close of it’s fifth season. But at the very last minute, CBS’ Fred Silverman had been able to convince Ball to one last season.
In 1974, after production on Here’s Lucy sixth season had wrapped up, Ball finally ended her 23 year stretch of regularly appearing on TV. But she didn’t retire from acting entirely. In 1985, she returned to the television screen in the made-for-TV film Stone Pillow, taking on a more dramatic role.
The following year, Ball starred in Life with Lucy, which wasn’t nearly as well-received as her previous sitcoms and was canceled after just three months.
Ball would continue to make occasional appearances in film and television roles until her death in April 1989 at the age of 77.
Which Lucille Ball television show are you the biggest fan of? Did you think that The Desi-Lucy Comedy Hour did a good job capturing the magic that I Love Lucy so effortlessly delivered? Let us know in the comments section down below.
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