Lucy and Ethel from I Love Lucy
. It's Lucy and Viv -- Lucy Carmichael and Vivian Bagley, that is -- from Format #1 of The Lucy Show
. I'm talking about direct
inspiration here. Obviously, The Lucy Show
would have never happened had there been no I Love Lucy
before it. So yes, Laverne & Shirley
indirectly was inspired by Lucy and Ethel on I Love Lucy
. But it was on The Lucy Show
that Garry Marshall served as a writer. And most significantly, the basic premise of Laverne & Shirley
-- two unmarried women sharing a home together and trying to do it "their way" -- that was the premise of the early seasons of The Lucy Show
. I Love Lucy
was about married couples, The Lucy Show
was about two unmarried women living together, getting into trouble together, competing for mates. That's the show and the format Garry Marshall wrote for when he joined the writing staff. Also, The Lucy Show
, like Laverne & Shirley
, employed much more taxing physical comedy stunts than I Love Lucy
ever did: comedy on roller skates, on stilts, on skis, under water, hanging from chandeliers, etc.
And speaking of skates, Garry Marshall's first script for Lucille Ball ("Lucy and the Good Skate") was an episode in which Lucy gets roller skates stuck on her feet the night of a big dance she has to attend. Marshall claimed that Lucille Ball broke a rib during rehearsals for this episode and had to go to the hospital. He thought for sure she would be furious at him and would never let him write for her again, but instead she wrote him a note thanking him for the funny script. And he continued on as a writer for her.
In his memoir, he claimed that Laverne & Shirley
was meant to be a tribute to Lucille Ball and said "I took the lessons [Lucille Ball] taught me about comedy and taught them to my sister Penny and our friend Cindy."
Now the acting styles of Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance were certainly very different than that of Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, which was much more broad, but the general similarities between the shows are clearly there. You can judge for yourself as The Lucy Show
(format #1) is currently airing on MeTV weekday mornings at 6:30 AM. They are currently airing episodes from the first season.