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I Love Lucy aired from October 1951 until June 1957 on CBS.
Television's first smash hit situation comedy, I Love Lucy was the most consistently popular program in tv history: during it's six seasons it ranked first for four years, second once, and third once. It was also the first sitcom to be filmed before a live audience; the decision to film the show was fortuitous, not only for it's principals ( the stars, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, owned the show through their production company, Desilu), but also for subsequent generations of viewers , as I Love Lucy has proven virtually indestructable in reruns. A classic comedy about a bandleader, his wife, and their frumpy neighbors, I Love Lucy clicked simply because it was well written and well played.
Desi Arnaz emigrated to Miami from his native Cuba in 1933, the same year that Lucille Ball headed toward Hollywood after a luckless stay in New York. Arnaz drifted into music, landed a job with Xavier Cugart's orchestra, and led his own band before going to Hollywood in 1940 to repeat his stage role in the filmed version of Too Many Girls. He met Lucille Ball on the set of the film, and the 2 were married a few months later. Arnaz appeared in one or two more films before resuming his career as a bandleader, while Lucille Ball continued her film career. By the end of the decade she was starring in a radio sitcom, My Favorite Husband, opposite Richard Denning. Its sponsor wanted to take the show to television with the same cast, but Lucy wanted Desi to be her tv Co-Star. The 2 decided to produce a pilot film, which was the beginning of the I Love Lucy series.
The film was made early in 1951. It was directed by Ralph Levy and written by Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh, and Bob Carroll-Oppenheimer had produced My Favorite Husband and Pugh and Carroll had written it. Thought to have been lost, the pilot film surfaced 40 years later in the hands of the widow of Pepino the clown, who had been featured in it; CBS broadcast it as part of a special program on April 30, 1990. In the film Lucy and Desi played Lucy and Larry Lopez; he was a bandleader, she a housewife who ended up on stage with her husband. Their were no neighbors on the show.The script incorporated some of the vaudeville routines the 2 had worked up during the preceding year. The Milton Blow Advertising Agency showed interest in the concept and suggested a few changes. Oppenheimer, Pugh, and Carroll went back to work; Desi would now play Ricky Ricardo, a not-too successful bandleader working in New York, and Lucy would be Lucy Ricardo, a talentless housewife ever hopeful of breaking into showbiz. The Ricardos would live in a small apartment on East 68th Street, above Fred and Ethel Mertz, their friends ( and their landlords). Lucy had originally wanted Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet, both of whom had been featured on My Favorite Husband, to play the Mertzes; both were unavailable however so Desi decided to hire William Frawley, a 64 year old character actor with a reputation as a two-fisted drinker, after Frawley suggested himself for the part of Fred. Vivian Vance, a character actress with vaudeville, Broadway and movie experience, was suggested for the Ethel part by Marc Daniels, who would direct the first season's shows. The casting was inspired; though Frawley cared little for Vance ( and the feeling was mutual), the 2 seemed perfect as the down-to-earth Mertzes-Frawley as Ricky's irrascible but loyal comrade in the battle of the sexes, and Vance as Lucy's frequent conspirator in her incessant attempts to get on stage.
The new concept for I Love Lucy was sold to a sponsor, Philip Morris and was scheduled on CBS. As neither Lucy or Desi was willing to relocate from Hollywood to New York and as CBS refused to permit the show to be televised live from Hollywood ( because Eastern viewers would thus have to watch poor quality kinescopes of the broadcasts, as their were not yet any coast-to-coast transmission lines) it was decided that the show would be filmed; that way audiences throughout the country would be assured of high quality reception. The show would be produced by Desilu, the production company that Lucy and Desi had formed in 1950; Jess Oppenheimer was named producer, and Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll were the writers. Several mammoth production problems were overcome during the summer of 1951: a soundstage was located, leased, and remodeled to accommodate a studio audience, and under the guidance of cinematographer Karl Freund, the stage itself was redesigned and the four-camera filming system was developed. A more personal preproduction uncertainty was resolved on July 17, 1951, when Lucy gave birth to their first child, Lucie Arnaz. Filming of I Love Lucy began in September. I Love Lucy premiered on October 15, 1951 ( Monday night at 9:00), to overwhelmingly favorable reviews ( the premiere episode, " The Girls Want To Go To A Nightclub," was not the first filmed). By the end of the season it was a smash; The American Research Bureau announced in April 1952 that it had become the first tv program to have been seen in 10 million homes. In May of that year the show made the cover of Time Magazine. I Love Lucy ended its first season third in the seasonal Nielsen ratings.
Production of the second season's show began earlier than usual because Lucy discovered that she was again expecting a child. Desi and Jess Oppenheimer convinced the sponsor to incorporate Lucy's pregnancy into the I Love Lucy storyline.( though the subject of pregnancy had been treated on other tv shows, such as One Man's Family, it was still very rare to see a pregant woman playing a mother- to -be . Lucy was only the second person ever to do so. Mary Kay Stearns had done it first on Mary Kay And Johnny back in 1948 when their were far fewer viewers around). Seven of the season's episodes would deal with Lucy's pregnancy; at CBS's insistence, however, the word "pregnant" was forbidden, though the word " expecting" was deemed acceptable. The episode concerning the birth of the baby ( to be filmed in November) would be shown on January 19, 1953 and it was decided that the Ricardos' child would be a boy. Arnaz explained that the decision was made mainly for the benifit of little Lucie Arnaz. Her parents felt that Lucie might have been confused if the Ricardos' first child was, like her, a little girl.
The storyline proved immensly popular, as I Love Lucy became Television's top ranked show, topping Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. As luck would have it, the Ricardos' baby boy ( little Ricky) was born on tv the same day that Lucille Ball gave birth to a son, Desi Arnaz IV ( he would later be known as Desi Arnaz Jr). News of the events dominated the headlines, crowding out other stories such as the innauguration of President Eisenhower. In April of 1953 young Desi graced the cover of the first issue of TV Guide.
I Love Lucy remained the number-one show during its third and fourt seasons , surviving a brief brouhaha in the fall of 1953 when Walter Wichell broadcast the news that in 1936 Lucy had publictly announced her intention to vote communist ( she explained that she had made the statement solely to please her grandfather, and was exonerated by the House Un-American Activities Committee). The episodes of the second, third, and fourt seasons were all directed by William Asher, who would later produce Bewitched. Two casting changes occured: twins Michael and Joseph Mayer played Little Ricky from the fall of 1953 until the spring of 1956 replacing twins Richard and Ronald Simmons, and Jerry Hausner, who had occasionally played Ricky's agent Jerry, left after the 1953-1954 season.
The series broadened its story line for the fourth season as Ricky Ricardo landed a part in a movie; twenty-seven episodes of the 1954-1955 season chronicled the Ricardos' and Mertzes' move west. This story line lent itself to the use of big name guest stars, a device not previously employed on the show. Among the big names who appeared that seasonn were Tennessee Ernie Ford, William Holden, Hedda Hopper, Rock Hudson, Harpo Marx, and Richard Widmark.
For its fifth season, I Love Lucy aquired a new sponsor ( General Foods), a new director ( James V. Kern), and a second pair of writers ( Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf) The use of guest stars continued, starting with John Wayne ( in his tv dramatic debute). Half way through the season, the Ricardos' and the Mertzes' were on the move again, this time to Europe. In the ratings race, the show finally slipped to second place behind The $64,000 Question.
Prooducer Jess Oppenheimer left after the fifth season, and the series final season began with the Ricardos' and the Mertzes back in New York, where Ricky now owned his own nitery. Keith Thibodeaux, a six year old drummer whose professional name was Richard Keith, joined the cast replacing the Mayer Twins. More big names appeared that season starting with Bob Hope , followed by Orson Welles and Elsa Lanchester. William Asher returned to direct the final 13 episodes, which depicted the Ricardos' move to suburban Connecticut( Mary Jane Croft and Frank Nelson were seen as their New England neighbors Betty and Ralph Ramsey). During its last season I Love Lucy reclaimed its number-one ranking ( I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, and Seinfeld have been the only tv series to cease production after finishing first in the ratings). A total of 180 half-hour episodes were produced, though only 179 were made available for syndication; in his book, The Story Of I Love Lucy, Bart Andrews noted that the episode of December 24, 1956, in which Fred bought a Christmas tree for Little Ricky, had never been rebroadcast. After a 33 year hiatus, CBS located a print and aired the " lost episode" on December 18, 1989; it had not been put in the syndication package because of its Christmas theme and because it included several flashbacks to previous episodes.
From 1957 to 1960, thirteen hour-long shows were filmed , which were shown as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour and The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show. The first 5 were telecast as specials during the 1957-1958 season , and the others were broadcast during the Desilu Playhouse timeslot. The first of these, " Lucy Takes A Cruise To Havana," ran 75 minutes, but Desi Arnaz pursuaded the sponsor of the succeeding program, The U.S. Steel Hour, to permit a 15 minute incursion. The last of the 13, " Lucy Meets The Moustache, " featured Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams, and was televised on April 1, 1960. It was especially poignant, not because it signified the end of the Ricardos' and the Mertzes, but because it was filmed after Lucy and Desi had agreed to get divorced.
After their divorce Lucy became the head of Desilu Studios buying out Desi's interests in 1962; in 1967 the operation was sold to Paramount. Desilu had expanded considerably from a one-show company since it was founded in 1950. Desilu produced many series during the 1950's and 1960's including Our Miss Brooks, December Bride, Willy, Those Whitting Girls, It's Always Jan, The Whirleybirds, The Untouchables, Fair Exchange, and Glynis. Desi Arnaz made few tv appearances since 1960 although he was occasionally featured on The Mothers-in-Law, a sitcom he produced. Lucille Ball who married Gary Morton in 1961 went on to star in a pair of similar sitcoms, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy, which together lasted 12 seasons. (A fourth series Life With Lucy, lasted only 2 months in 1986) On November 28, 1976, CBS broadcast a two-hour tribute to her 3 shows, " CBS Salutes Lucy-The First 25 Years," which included a rare television appearance by CBS's chief executive William Paley. Desi Arnaz died in 1986, Lucille Ball in 1989. On February 10, 1991, CBS aired a made for tv movie about the couple's life before I Love Lucy. " Lucy And Desi: Before The Laughter," with Francis Fisher and Maurice Benard, was hotly criticized by Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr, as an inaccurate portait of their parents' lives.
Here are some articles about I Love Lucy from Time Magazine through the years.
Monday, Feb. 18, 1952 Article
A little after dawn, somewhere along Los Angeles' Sepulveda Boulevard, Lucille Ball used to meet her husband, Desi Arnaz. He would be going home after a night of leading his orchestra at Ciro's. She would be headed for a day's work at her movie studio. "We would pull off the road and talk for a few minutes," Lucille recalls. Then she adds: "That's a dull way to live, brother!"
By giving up movies and nightclubs for their TV show, I Love Lucy (Mon. 9 p.m., CBS), Lucille and Desi now have all their weekends free, and work only four days a week together. In brightening up their own lives, they have done quite a lot to make a cheerful half hour once a week for millions of televiewers. The show, begun only last October, has rocketed up in the popularity ratings, is now fourth among Nielsen's top ten.
Much of the credit belongs to Lucille, a redheaded, uninhibited comedienne who takes pratfalls and pie-throwings in her stride, manages to add an extra wriggle or a rubber-faced doubletake to each funny line. Cuban-born Desi Arnaz gets enough masculine authority into his role to keep Lucy from degenerating into a Dagwood and Blondie farce. Three writers turn out scripts that bring flashes of grown-up humor to such standard subjects as amateur theatricals and wedding anniversaries. Says Lucille: "We try to be an average married couple getting into unaverage situations."
To make I Love Lucy, Lucille and Desi set up a family corporation called Desilu Productions. Leasing a Los Angeles sound stage from an independent studio, they knocked out a street wall, put up a marquee labeled "Desilu Playhouse." When a show is ready for the cameras, a real audience files into the playhouse and the laughter is picked up on overhead microphones for use in the final print.
Sponsor Philip Morris pays $30,000 a week for I Love Lucy, which gives Lucille and Desi a weekly income of $5,000 to $7,000. And Desilu is branching out to do TV commercials. "After all," observes Desi, "when we get too old or too fat to get in front of the cameras, we can always be producers."
Another Article From Time Magazine
The First 10 Million
Monday, May. 12, 1952 Article
I Love Lucy (Mon. 9 p.m., CBS) is an untrammeled TV comedy show distinguished by the high-quality slapstick of carrot-topped Comedienne Lucille Ball and her handsome Cuban-born husband, Desi Arnaz. Filmed especially for television in Hollywood, Lucy's combination of well-written scripts and rowdy good humor proved popular enough last month to displace both Arthur Godfrey and Milton Berle, and thus became the nation's No. i TV attraction.
Last week Lucy set another record: according to the American Research Bureau, the show became the first regularly scheduled TV program to be seen in 10 million U.S. homes. Estimated total audience: 30,740,000 nearly a fifth of the nation's population.
Another Article From Time Magazine
Birth of a Memo
Monday, Jan. 26, 1953 Article
In Hollywood four months ago, Desi Arnaz sat down in solemn conference with a battery of pressagents, including a man from the sponsor, Philip Morris. Their problem: how to squeeze the maximum of publicity out of the fact that Desi's wife, Lucille Ball, was going to have two babies one in real life, the other in their filmed TV show, I Love Lucy (Mon. 9 p.m., CBS). Suddenly inspiration struck one of the experts. Lucille would have to have her real baby by Caesarean section, wouldn't she? Then the date on which the Arnaz baby was to be born could be predicted, couldn't it? Then why not let TV art copy Hollywood life by having both infants the real Arnaz baby and the fictitious Ricardo baby born on the same day?
Delicate Matter. Inspired, the press-agents drew up a five-part memo titled "Various Aspects of the Ricardo Baby in the I Love Lucy Publicity and Promotional Campaign." In the protocol, all present swore "that there must be absolutely no word about the baby released out of any office before Dec. 8." Only then were 40 million televiewers to be let in on the secret of Lucy's pregnancy. Plans were laid to tie in the show with the Columbia record of There's a Brand New Baby at Our House and I Love Lucy, both sung by Desi and played by his orchestra. All the pressagents promised to bombard newspapers, magazines and wire services with feature stories. CBS was given a special assignment: "The matter of filming the pregnancy story was so delicate that three clergymen were present to see that everything was in good taste and would offend no one: Rabbi Wolf for the Jewish faith, Monsignor Devlin for the Catholic Church, and the Rev. Clifton Moore for the Protestant faith . . . CBS will handle the story."
Secret Gimmick. Almost everything in radio & TV needs a gimmick, and the memo had one. It was called "The Secret Gimmick about the Baby's Sex." This, too, required an inviolate pledge of secrecy until the release date this week: "The Ricardo baby will be a boy regardless of the sex of the actual Arnaz baby. Of course, if the Arnaz baby does happen to be a boy, then all writers and editors can assume that the producers of I Love Lucy are clairvoyant and possessed of sheer genius. If it happens to be a girl, the story (and the truth) is that Desi was so set on having a boy . . . that he went ahead and filmed the Ricardo baby as if it were, regardless."
Finally, the pressagents edged up to the portentous problem of what to do about notifying the gossip columnists: "Walter Winchell should be alerted to be given the first news of the Arnaz baby. We will phone the news to him, since he will be expecting the phone call. When he is alerted, he is to be told nothing of the gimmick but, when he receives the phone call, and not before, he will be given the story of Desi's thinking concerning the Ricardo baby. Of course, the news of the Arnaz baby will be given out simultaneously to Louella, Hedda, Johnson, Graham, all the wire services and all the local dailies. But the story of the gimmick as released to the other outlets will be a follow-up . . . to give Walter an edge."
This week, Lucille Ball got around to doing her part. As television's Lucy Ricardo she was rushed off to the hospital to give birth to Ricky Ricardo Jr. As Lucille Ball Arnaz, she entered Hollywood's Cedars of Lebanon Hospital and gave birth to another boy. His weight: 8 lbs. 9 oz. His name: Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV.
Kids Loved I Love Lucy As This Time Article Conceeds.
Monday, Feb. 09, 1953 Article
In Chicago last week, Northwestern University's Professor Paul Witty released his third annual report on the TV reactions of schoolchildren, parents and teachers. About the only thing they all agreed on was I Love Lucy easily the most popular show among elementary moppets, teen-agers and parents. Even teachers, who placed news shows first, ranked Lucy as a popular fifth preference.
As an example of the "worst TV shows," the parents and teachers named Milton Berle. The children said they disliked Howdy Doody, Captain Video, old westerns and murder mysteries.
Some of the top favorites:
Parents: Arthur Godfrey, What's My Line?, Mama, dramatic shows, movies.
Teachers: Meet the Press, What's My Line?, Clifton Utley, See It Now.
Teenagers: Red Skelton, sports shows, Comedy Hour, What's My Line?, Show of Shows.
Elementary schoolchildren: Tom Corbett, My Friend Irma, Red Skelton, Roy Rogers, Stu Erwin.
Monday, Mar. 02, 1953 Article
In Los Angeles, Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz last week put their signatures on one of the biggest TV contracts ever written. For $8,000,000, to be paid them by CBS and Sponsor Philip Morris cigarettes, Lucille and Desi agreed to give their top-rated I Love Lucy show weekly for the next 2 years, the production expenses to be paid by them. Besides the money, they keep all the rights in their films, which had a higher Nielsen rating (71.7%) than the TV coverage of President Eisenhower's inauguration (67.6%). Said Lucille happily: "It couldn't happen to a nicer pair of kids.I mean our two children, of course."
An Article From Time Magazine
Monday, Sep. 21, 1953 Article
"The most popular of all television stars," cried Walter Winchell on his Sunday night broadcast, "[has been] confronted with her membership in the Communist Party." Winchell named no names. But five days later California's Congressman Donald L. Jackson told the tale solely, as he explained it, to quash "unfounded rumors." Lucille Ball, redheaded star of I Love Lucy and television's current queen of queens, had admitted under oath to having registered as a Communist in a Los Angeles election back in 1936.
The Congressman gallantly went on to say that there was no evidence that Lucy "is or ever was a member of the Communist Party." Lucy's husband and co-star Desi cried: "The only thing red about this kid is her hair and even that is not legitimate." But it was Lucy herself who explained how she could have innocently registered as a Communist; she had done it all for Grandpa.
Grandpa, she said, was Fred Hunt, a radical and a self-appointed friend of the workingman with whom Lucille, then a struggling young movie bit-player, her mother, her brother and a sister were living in 1936. Grandpa's radicalism, she recalled, kept the household in an uproar. When the Balls hired cleaning women, Grandpa drove them away by telling them they weren't being paid enough. But Grandpa was 71 and subject to heart attacks. When he insisted that the Balls register as Communists in 1936, they all did for fear that he would pop an artery.
Lucy's story seemed to do the trick. Los Angeles newspapers ran headlines which read: LUCY NO RED and FANS STILL LOVE HER, DESI TOO. The sponsor (Philip
Morris) forgave her; so did the network (CBS) and her last studio (M-G-M). At a poolside press conference, Lucy announced that she had "faith in the American people," and was getting thousands of letters of commendation from them. But Lucy didn't appear to have forgiven Columnist Winchell. She was asked how she thought he had discovered her secret. "Walter Winchell," she replied acidly, "knew I was pregnant before I did myself."
An Article About Film VS Live Shows From Time Magazine.
Film v. Live Shows
Monday, Mar. 29, 1954 Article
"The Kraft TV Theater comes to you live from New York. The play is being performed at the moment you see it living theater is your best television entertainment." This announcement, read as each Kraft show comes on the air, dramatizes weekly the struggle for supremacy between live and filmed TV. It points up the fear of the TV networks, as well as that of the Manhattan producers of live shows, that they are about to be swallowed up by Hollywood. At first, almost all television was live. Now one third of sponsored network shows are on film, and the percentage is growing. Such TV film-makers as Hal Roach Jr., Ziv,
Don Sharpe, Frank Wisbar and Desilu have built their business from scratch to a $50-million industry.
Last year Hollywood, which makes 78% of TV's film (the rest is shot in Manhattan and Europe), provided 3,500,000 feet of film for TV's consumption. Eight onetime movie studios are now devoted almost entirely to TV. Of all the millions of feet of negative sold by Eastman Kodak to the movie industry, nearly 70% goes to television. Though the general quality of IV films is low, the two most popular TV programs in the U.S. I Love Lucy and Dragnet are on film.
Actor's Muff. On one level, the film v. live-TV fight is an artistic squabble. Producers and directors of such live shows as Studio One, U.S. Steel Hour and Philco Goodyear TV Playhouse argue that the theaterlike thrill of live TV cannot be captured on film, and that live performances hold more excitement and spontaneity. Replies Film-Maker Hal Roach-"Who wants to see a stagehand in the wrong place, or hear an actor muff his lines? That's what spontaneity means."
The networks are in the fight for financial reasons. With a live program that can be performed only once, TV stations usually must belong to a network if they are to carry the show. But filmed TV can be sold direct by the film-makers to individual stations. Not wanting to be pushed out into the cold, the networks have fought back. NBC's Vice President John K. West says of TV film: "Keep it the hell off the networks." CBS's Vice President Harry Ackerman says: "We are primarily in the live TV business. We definitely wanted to shoot I Love Lucy live.
But the sponsor made us go to film You can say that we go into the film business at the whim of the sponsor."
46 Survivors. Since film has been forced on them, the networks have moved to capture another middleman function: distribution. NBC, CBS and ABC are organized to sell reruns of their TV films to advertisers and independent TV stations. Says NBC Film Division's Director Ted Sisson: "A few big distributors are eventually going to control the industry." Some filmed shows, such as Victory at Sea, have higher ratings on their second runs than on their firsts. Others, e.g., Hopalong Cassidy, have been re-run as many as five times in the same city.
Hal Roach's production this year will top the combined footage of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, 20th Century-Fox and Warner Bros. Right from the first, says Roach "it was plain that this hungry TV medium could only be fed with film." But the casualties were high. Banks refused to lend money. The major studios refused to let their stars appear in TV shows. Of some 500 embryo TV filmmakers, only 46 survive, and only half a dozen make sizable profits. Roach aims solely at producing entertainment by assembly-line methods, says: "It's like the auto business."
Roach made 98 films of Racket Squad sold them to a sponsor, but just barely made expenses ("I was banking on the fact that I could show the films again and cash in"). He won his gamble by reselling the films to the ABC network for $1,000,000. He has 30 writers hard at work on three on-the-air series (Public Defender, Duffy's Tavern, My Little Margie) and seven new programs.
Nothing in the immediate future is likely to be decisive in the struggle between live and film TV. Color TV will probably be taken in stride by both sides. Electronic tape, due in from two to five years, seems to promise advantages to everyone!
Like most such struggles, live v. filmed TV may end up as an uneasy compromise. Says one TV producer: "Believe me, there's room in this business for everyone. We can have live and film and tape and color. Just as long as nobody wants the whole pot."
An Article From Time Magazine
Lucy & the Gifted Child
Monday, Jun. 28, 1954 Article
On a huge Hollywood sound stage one night last week, after the day's work was done, TV's most popular comedienne stood before a twelve-layer cake and read the words on the icing: "The first 100 shows are the hardest." But for Lucille Ball and Husband Desi Arnaz, the first 100 shows have also been rewarding: approximately 50 million people ,one out of every three Americans tune in to I Love Lucy every Monday night (CBS, 9 p.m.). No other regular TV show has ever claimed such an audience.
Most of Lucy's fans think it is only the wacky, wide-eyed clowning of Lucy herself that keeps them tuning in. week after zany week. Lucille herself knows better.
Last week, eying her towering cake, she paid homage to the three people most responsible, besides herself and Husband Desi, for keeping the show on top of the heap. Said shrewd Comedienne Ball: "I love them dearly, I appreciate them daily, I praise them hourly, and I thank God for them every night." Everyone in the studio, from stagehand to sponsor's representative, knew that Lucy was talking about Chief Writer and Producer Jess Oppenheimer and Writers Bob Carroll Jr.
and Madelyn Pugh.
Bossman. The show's heaviest burdens fall on Oppenheimer, whom Lucy calls "Bossman." A onetime "gifted child" whose career has been closely watched by psychologists ever since he was in the second grade, Oppenheimer, 41, has one of the toughest jobs in television. As producer of Lucy, he must keep track of 13 separate Lucy shows at all times. Last week, for instance, he discussed the show to be shot nine weeks from now, edited the finished script for the show eight weeks away. The same day, he had to check on costumes and casts for episodes three and four weeks in the future, while taking care of production details for last week's 100th show (which will be telecast Oct. 4). After that was filmed, he had to supervise the cutting, editing and dubbing of the shows shot two, three and four weeks ago.
As chief writer, Oppenheimer had a problem last week. He told Carroll and Pugh: "We've got to do something new. When we started out, Desi is in show business and Lucy tries to get into the act. Later, we did more about the husband-and-wife angle, and when that got heavy we were lucky and Lucy had her baby. Now we've got to think of something else. Let's take them from New York to Hollywood. Desi could get a studio offer."
Consistency & Constancy. Carroll put in: "Let Desi take a screen test. That would give us a couple of funny scenes with Lucy." Pretty, demure Madelyn Pugh, onetime radio writer, added: "Suppose Hollywood was shooting Don Juan and they thought Desi would be perfect for the part. This opens up all kinds of scenes. Lucy trying to play femmes fatales, Lucy getting jealous of the women Desi must make love to in the show ..."
That afternoon Oppenheimer told the others to go ahead alone, then turned to the finished script based on the previous week's conference that they had handed him that morning. Says Oppenheimer: "Sometimes I don't touch a word of their script; other times I change a great deal. I may be wrong when I change it, but I've got to do what I think is right. Afterwards, I dictate the entire script so I can give it the consistency and constancy that every show needs. Rightly or wrongly, the show sounds the same each time because it funnels through me. I know the mood and feel of our other shows; I can bring it all into line, so that nothing sounds too different or out of character. That's one of the things that makes the show stay on top."
Believable Premise. "But the best reason Lucy clicks, aside from the fact that Lucille is such a great girl, is that our show is tailored to get the greatest identification. We never start off from an unbelievable premise. If the audience can accept the beginning of our show, and know that's real, like a wife being in debt or a husband trying to sneak out to a fight, then they will go along no matter how extreme the show gets."
Lucille and Desi, who are practically the last people in the company to read a script, go along too. Occasionally they make minor suggestions, but they have never turned down a script. Says Lucy of her writers: "We just trust them completely and always."
An Article From Time Magazine
The Week in Review
Monday, Jul. 04, 1955 Article
In defiance of gravity, most successful TV shows have a way of going in two directions at once ,up and down. They push themselves up in popularity by dishing out the kind of entertainment the customers have been led to expect, and then dig themselves into a rut by shoveling out scheduled helpings of the predictable. Sooner or later the customers get the idea, and suddenly a very popular TV show starts going in one direction only. "What we need," say the TV brass-hats, "is something different but not too different." Last week they offered viewers something tried, something true, something different and even something new.
Love & History. The public has been fed situation comedy until it is almost fed up (TIME, June 27), but viewers still love I Love Lucy. How long the love affair will continue depends on how much comic inventiveness Desi and Lucy can put into their formula of a young couple getting in and out of slapstick situations with a well-shaken mixture of low-class cunning and high-class ineptitude. Last week the re-run of an old Lucy was neither comic nor inventive. Lucy's idea of fun was to return repeatedly to a nightclub, got up in a series of outlandish disguises, and leave indignantly each time on being told that Desi no longer entertained there. This stratagem was supposed to convince the boss that Desi was so popular that he should be rehired at double his pay. The boss was convinced, but so was Desi: he refused the job, under the illusion that his great popularity allowed him to write his own ticket anywhere. With this tired old comedy situation, the studio audience's roars of glee (stepped up to full volume by sound engineers) were received in many a living room in baffled silence.
But CBS redeemed itself in the fact field. On See It Now (Tues. 10:30 p.m. E.D.T.), Reporter Ed Murrow turned the TV camera on Dr. Ralph Bunche, Under Secretary of the United Nations. The camera focused on a schoolroom in Abilene, Kans. Dr. Bunche was at the head of the class. He spoke simply and earnestly to his youthful listeners, as he would to intellectual equals, and made out an eloquent case for the U.N., in whose halls "every man of whatever race, color or religion holds his head equally high." Dr. Bunche was a credit to the U.N., to the U.S. and to his race.
Imagination & Morals. Winding up a successful run on Broadway, 3 for Tonight breezed onto Front Row Center (Wed. 10 p.m. E.D.T., CBS-TV) like a breath of spring. On an empty stage with no sets and few props, Narrator Hiram Sherman asked his viewers to contribute imagination to the show. He held up a pencil and said it was a sprig of lilac. Just then a girl walked by. "You're late," said , Sherman. She hung her head. "Here," he said, and handed her the pencil. Immediately the girl was aglow. "Oh!" she exclaimed, cupping the pencil, "what lovely lilacs!"
The rest of the show was no sprig of lilac, but much of it was engagingly different. As coordinated as a precision instrument, Walter Schumann's choral group managed to sound now like an entire circus, again like the string section of a symphony orchestra. Harry Belafonte, singing blues, calypso and spirituals, turned out to be a topnotch TV personality. Best of all were witty Dancers Marge and Gower Champion, who can make their sophisticated routines look joyously impromptu. All in all, 3 for Tonight proved that skill and imagination can be more fun than a lot of expensive scenery.
Just as refreshing in its easygoing way was Red Gulch, a U.S. Steel Hour (Tues. 9:30 p.m. E.D.T., ABC-TV) adaptation of the Bret Harte short story. Franchot Tone and Teresa Wright starred in this tale of a hard-drinking newspaper editor and a high-minded Philadelphia schoolmarm who meet in a frontier town in 1885. The editor has a carefree habit of lying around drunk in the gutter a good bit of the time, and the schoolmarm, a fairly stuffy type, is tempted to go back to Philadelphia, especially when she is told that her editor friend has fathered an illegitimate child. The happy ending which came as a mild shock to viewers who have been brought up on the strait-laced morality of Hollywood's Production Code: the schoolteacher finally remains in Red Gulch when she realizes that it is a little silly to be too primly disapproving of drunkenness and bastardy.
An Article From Time Magazine
Can the Laughter
Monday, Feb. 18, 1957 Article
When the cameras stopped grinding recently on an installment of I Love Lucy, Co-Star Desi Arnaz turned to thank the studio audience for its laughter during the filming of the show. Slipping up from behind, Lucille Ball crowned her husband with a pizza and the audience exploded. "That was the best laugh of the evening," chirped one spectator. "It should have been on the show." Chances are that it was or will be. The laugh was captured on tape for Desilu Productions' library of canned laughter, from which the sound tracks of the company's shows can borrow anything from a solitary snicker to waves of mass hilarity.
Canned laughter rings, too often like hollow mockery, through virtually every filmed comedy show on TV. It is a hoary part of show business, at least as old as Nero who, in his ventures as an actor, packed his houses with as many as 5,000 soldiers under strict orders to appreciate him. The French refined it with the institution of the claque, with such specialists as rieurs* or laughers. In the heyday of U.S. radio, comics often helped a laugh along by kicking the announcer or pummeling the guest star to get studio audiences laughing at what unseeing hearers could only assume was the comic's wit. But it remained for TV to forge mirth with disembodied electronic efficiency.
Sweetening the Sound Track. Much as the forgery is abused and resented, the TV comedy producer argues that it is uniquely needed by the medium, demanded by sponsors and even desired (at least unconsciously) by the viewers. Psychologists agree that people in audiences laugh aloud partly because they hear each other laughing. Therefore, for maximum enjoyment, the theory goes, the viewer alone or in small groups must get the feeling that he is in a crowd and free to join its merriment. A few sponsors have scoffed at the use of canned laughter, but the counterfeiters have had the last laugh. When Dear Phoebe jettisoned its laughter on the sponsor's orders two seasons ago, its ratings fell in the silence. Just to make sure, the advertising agency tried an experiment with the show in two cities: one station showed it with laughter and another without. The laugh-packed version ran 25% higher in its ratings.
Now the sponsor is left mainly with a choice of how to inject the laughs. Some shows, e.g., Lucy, December Bride, Phil Silvers, are filmed before a live audience whose real laughter is recorded with the show itself. Then the film's sound track is judiciously "sweetened": coughs are erased, idiot giggles toned down, chuckles reinforced and silences sprinkled with gaiety. Another common technique, used by Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, the Bob Cummings Show and Private Secretary, is to film the show without spectators, then show the film to a movie-house audience monitored by microphones. The sounds of the audience reaction are dubbed in and again doctored on the theory that he who laughs most laughs best.
Good Listeners. "If a joke lays a complete egg," says George Burns, "we might put in two or three people to carry it along." The laugh canner's purest technique (Ozzie & Harriet) is to skip the fallible human element altogether and, as the trade has it, "lay the laugh track in cold." Says Producer Alex Gottlieb: "A good film editor can lay in a laugh track from the library that comes out sounding more authentic than live laughter. After all, people aren't expert laughers, but the sound effects man is an expert listener."
The most efficient way yet devised of laying in a laugh track is by a machine invented and operated by a former network engineer. His clients (three shows a week) and the whole industry are so furtive about canned laughter that he will discuss it only anonymously. To operate his machine, he sits at a tape console with a panel of twelve buttons, plus controls for quality and volume. Each button fades in a different shade in the whole spectrum of laughter and applause, e.g., a male belly laugh, scattered titters, the out-of-control shrieks of women, the outburst bellowing up to thunder. The engineer plays his machine like an organ, rehearses right along with the cast, tailors the laughs snugly to the lines. He does away with the fuss and bother of a studio crowd, its distracting noises and unpredictable ways of laughing in the wrong places. "I don't work from any director's script," he says with a low, contented laugh. "I play it by ear."
* Also pleureurs, who feigned tears.
An Article From Time Magazine
The New Tycoon
Monday, Apr. 07, 1958 Article
Battered old movie posters still flapped in the Hollywood breezes on the high walls of the old RKO lot last week. But towering above the lot, in huge black letters on the freshly painted silver water tower, loomed a new hallmark: Desilu Studios. Below it, cameramen were already shooting TV films on five of the lot's 14 stages, while an army of wreckers, carpenters, painters and plasterers exorcised the past for the arrival of the new owners: onetime Bongo Drummer Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y De Acha III, 41, and his round-eyed, henna-crested wife, Comedienne Lucille Ball, 46.
For Desi and Lucy, the trip to the RKO lot was at once a sentimental journey and an ironic triumph. It is where they met, fell in love and left in the early '40s under the shadow of Desi's dropped option. Since then, babyfaced. Cuban-born Desi has become not only half of TV's most popular comedy team, but the self-made boss of a company that produces, or takes a hand in producing, 27 TV shows.* This year on three different lots Desilu will grind out 270 hours of filmed television entertainment,more than twice the footage of any movie studio ,rivaling TV's Revue Productions as the biggest film producer in the new Hollywood.
Pile & Putter. While Lucy moves into the dressing room that Ginger Rogers once occupied as queen of RKO and keeps an eye on the commissary (she hates "bad studio food"), Desi will reign in an oak-and-leather throne room, surrounded by deep pile, a disappearing bar, and a putter alongside the desk. The new Hollywood tycoon is already awakening echoes of older ones. As workmen remodeled buildings for directors, producers and writers, he said: "Those cubbyholes were no good. Our offices are going to be twice that size. These are creative people, and creative people gotta have room to think." Madelyn Pugh Martin, one of the company's favorite writers, will even get a built-in nursery for her new baby.
Desi has begun buying galley proofs of novels directly from publishers, "the same way major studios do," and is looking for fresh writing talent in colleges. He hopes to set up a studio workshop for acting tyros and a system of talent scouts. And he does not stop there in emulating the lost grandeur of the big studios. Says he: "If we get a good story that just won't fit on that small screen, then we'll do it as a movie feature."
Back in 1951, when Arnaz and his wife started I Love Lucy on a shoestring, they knew so little about the business that they sent their cameraman to Manhattan to pick up pointers from live shows. Today even the janitors on his payroll of 2,500 still call him by his first name, but Desi is equally authoritative behind the cameras directing a pilot film or rattling off shrewd decisions in long-distance calls with network brass, sponsors and ad agencies.
Since he and Lucy are sole owners, there is no lag at Desilu when he decides to make a deal. He beat two major bidders for the RKO studios when he strolled off a Lucy set one day last fall and made a phone call nailing down the purchase from General Tire & Rubber Co., RKO's owner since 1955, for a bargain $6,150,000. Desi usually spends ten hours a day at work, chauffeurs himself in his black Thunderbird from the Beverly Hills mansion where he and Lucy live with their two children, Lucie Desiree, 6, and Desi IV, 5, manages three-day golf weekends at another home in Palm Springs.
The Guy in Omaha. "This coming year," says Tycoon Arnaz, "is going to be probably the most important year in television's history. You might call it the industry's moment of truth. Only quality stuff will draw an audience, so I think only the fittest will survive. We're going to go all out."
Desi will plow $7,500,000 into his 1958-59 production schedule so confidently that "this time we're going to do the shows first and then go looking for a sponsor." The main project: Desilu Playhouse, which, with Desi as host, will offer weekly hour-long dramatic and musical productions, plus a dozen 90-minute spectaculars, including Don Quixote and six Desi-Lucy comedies. All the shows will be tailored to this Arnaz pattern: "No violence, no psychopaths, no dirtiness. There will never be any need to send the kids to bed when we come on."
Will the results please the critics or confirm a rival's description of Desilu as "a sausage factory"? Snort Producer Arnaz, embracing the code of Hollywood tycoons old and new: "I've never yet made a show for the 21 Club or the Romanoff's crowd, and I'm not going to start now. The viewers have to be able to identify themselves with the characters or you're going to lose them. I've always got the guy in Omaha in mind."
* Desilu's own shows (current, shooting, or enjoying profitable reruns): the hour-long Desi-Lucy shows (which have won this season's highest Nielsen ratings among spectaculars), Whirlybirds, Official Detective, Walter Winchell File, Sheriff of Cochisc, This Is Alice, Ann Southern Show, The Texan, Willy, The Whiting Girls, Ernestine. Shows that lease production facilities from Desilu: December Bride, Danny Thomas Show, Eve Arden Show, Red Skelton's filmed shows, Lineup, Wyatt Earp, The Real McCoys, Jim Bowie, Meet McGraw, Mr. Adams and Eve, Zone Grey Theater, Trackdown, Richard Diamond, Hey, Jeannie, Four Star Playhouse, Alcoa-Goodyear Theater. The famed I Love Lucy series is also on the air, but owned by CBS, which paid Desilu more than $4,000,000 for it.
An Article From Time Magazine
Monday March 14, 1960
When TV's foremost up-from-the-ranks production tycoons, Cinemactress Lucille Ball and Bandleader Desi Arnaz, were married in 1940, acquaintances of the volatile lovebirds gave their union six months at most before an inevitable explosion would send them on separate ways. Lucy herself doubted that the match was good for six weeks. Last week, after more than 19 years of sometimes hectic marriage, and two children (Lucy, 8; Desi IV, 7), Lucy and Desi, co-bosses of Desilu Productions, Inc. (grossing more than $20 million a year) and co-stars of TV's longtime rating-topper I Love Lucy, called quits to the marriage but announced that Desilu Productions would still link them. Both feature players at RKO studios when they first met, Lucy, 48, and Arnaz, 43, seemed to pose a very American example of a romantic partnership that could not stand financial success. Filing for divorce in Santa Monica, Calif., Lucy, whose home-loving inclinations have not jibed with Arnaz' night-prowling habits for several years, sadly allowed: "I've tried so hard to be fair and solve our problems, but find it impossible to go on."
To read William Frawley's Obituary go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=eSUxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JnQDAAAAIBAJ&dq=william%20frawley%20died&pg=7149%2C1758821
To read Vivian Vance's Obituary go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dUsmAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5lgDAAAAIBAJ&dq=vivian%20vance%20died&pg=2134%2C648967
To read Desi Arnaz's Obituary go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_gUxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=guAFAAAAIBAJ&dq=desi%20arnaz%20died&pg=945%2C4037726
Here's Lucille Ball's Obituary as Published by The New York Times.
April 27, 1989
Lucille Ball, Spirited Doyenne Of TV Comedies, Dies at 77
By PETER B. FLINT
Lucille Ball, the irrepressible queen of television comedy for nearly a quarter-century, died yesterday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles a week after undergoing heart surgery there. She was 77 years old.
A hospital spokesman, Ron Wise, said the actress had suffered a rupture of the aorta after having improved steadily from a seven-hour operation.
Miss Ball, noted for impeccable timing, deft pantomime and an endearing talent for making the outrageous believable, was a Hollywood legend: a contract player at RKO in the 1930's and 40's who later bought the studio with Desi Arnaz, her first husband.
She made her last public appearance four weeks ago at the Academy Awards ceremonies, when she and Bob Hope introduced a production number.
The elastic-faced, husky-voiced comedian was a national institution from 1951 to 1974 in three series and many specials on television that centered on her ''Lucy'' character. The first series, ''I Love Lucy,'' was for six years the most successful comedy series on television, never ranking lower than third. The series, on CBS, chronicled the life of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, a Cuban band leader played by Mr. Arnaz, who was Miss Ball's husband on and off screen for nearly 20 years.
It was a major national event when, on Jan. 19, 1953, Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky on the air the same night Lucille Ball gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha 4th. The audience for the episode was estimated at 44 million, a record at the time, and CBS said 1 million viewers responded with congratulatory telephone calls, telegrams, letters or gifts. Miss Ball's first child, Lucie Desiree Arnaz, was born July 17, 1951, three months before the show went on the air.
The Ricardos were the best-known, best-loved couple in America, and the first ''Lucy'' series is still in syndication in more than 80 countries, at times with six episodes a day in a single area.
Analyzing the reasons, Miss Ball explained why her inspired exaggeration of an average middle-class housewife was credible: ''I believe it all the way. I do what I do with all my strength and heart.''
''Lucille Ball will always be the first lady of CBS,'' William S. Paley, the chairman of the network, said yesterday in a tribute issued by his office. ''Lucy's extraordinary ability to light up the screen and brighten our lives is a legacy that will last forever.''
Miss Ball was also an astute business executive. From 1962 to 1967, she headed Desilu Productions, one of the biggest and most successful television production companies. Also, starting in 1968, she and her second husband, Gary Morton, a former nightclub comic, headed Lucille Ball Productions.
She bought Mr. Arnaz's share of Desilu Productions in 1962 with a $3 million bank loan, and she sold the company to Gulf and Western Industries in 1967 for $17 million. Her share totaled $10 million.
Discussing how she became an executive, Miss Ball said: ''My ability comes from fairness and a knowledge of people. I ran my studio like I run my home, with understanding of people. We touch in our house. I tell my children, 'There's so little time.' ''
Miss Ball was a tireless worker. ''I have to work or I'm nothing,'' she once said. ''I've never been out of work except for two hours once between contracts.'' On the set, she was said to know every term, every lighting fixture and every worker.
A Veteran of Motion Pictures
Before entering television, Miss Ball appeared in more than 50 films, beginning in 1933 as an unbilled chorus girl in an Eddie Cantor musical farce, ''Roman Scandals.'' Her other films included ''Having Wonderful Time'' (1938), ''Room Service'' (1938), ''The Big Street'' (1942), ''Best Foot Forward'' (1943), the title role in ''Du Barry Was a Lady'' (1943), ''Without Love'' (1945), ''Sorrowful Jones'' (1949) and ''Fancy Pants'' (1950).
James Agee, the writer and film critic, observed that Miss Ball ''tackles a role like it was sirloin and she didn't care who was looking.'' Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times wrote in 1938 that she ''is rapidly becoming one of our brightest comediennes.'' In 1960 she also starred in a Broadway musical, ''Wildcat.''
In 1964 there was a Lucy Day at the New York World's Fair, and in 1971 she became the first woman to receive the International Radio and Television Society's Gold Medal. Her many other awards included four Emmys, induction into the Television Hall of Fame and a citation for lifetime achievement from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Daughter of a Pianist
Lucille Desiree Ball was born on Aug. 6, 1911 in Celoron, outside Jamestown, N.Y. She was the daughter of the former Desiree Hunt, a pianist, and Henry Dunnell Ball, a telephone lineman, who died when she was 3.
As a girl she spent a great deal of time with her maternal grandparents, who instilled in her a deep family loyalty and a commitment to hard work. Her favorite times were attending vaudeville shows and silent films and acting out episodes and plays. Of a school production of ''Charley's Aunt,'' she said, ''I played the lead, directed it, cast it, sold tickets, printed the posters and hauled in furniture for props.''
She embarked on a show-business career at 15 by going to Manhattan and enrolling in John Murray Anderson's dramatic school. From the first, she was repeatedly told she had no talent and should return home. She tried and failed to get into four Broadway chorus lines.
From Soda Jerk to Cigarette Girl
She worked variously as a waitress and as a soda jerk in a Broadway drugstore. She then became a hat model in Hattie Carnegie's salon and also modeled for commercial photographers. She won national attention as the Chesterfield Cigarette Girl in 1933. This got her to Hollywood as a Goldwyn chorus girl in ''Roman Scandals.''
Over two years, she played unbilled and bit roles in two dozen movies and made two-reel comedies with Leon Errol and the Three Stooges. She then spent seven years at RKO Radio Pictures, getting many leading roles in low-budget movies. She was typed and mostly wasted in films, but a few roles suggested her talents - a cynical young actress in ''Stage Door'' (1937), a temperamental movie star in ''The Affairs of Annabel'' (1938), a rejected lover in the 1939 melodrama ''Five Came Back,'' a gold-digging stripper in ''Dance, Girl, Dance'' (1940), a handicapped egotist in ''The Big Street'' (1942) and a tough-talking secretary in ''The Dark Corner'' (1946).
''I never cared about the movies,'' she said later, ''because they cast me wrong.''
A Regular on the Radio
In radio, Miss Ball did regular stints on Phil Baker's and Jack Haley's comedy-variety shows in the late 30's and 40's and, from 1947 to 1951, she played the precursor to Lucy: the hare-brained wife of a Midwestern banker (Lee Bowman and later Richard Denning) in the CBS radio comedy ''My Favorite Husband.'' The show's writers were Madelyn Davis and Bob Carroll Jr., who were to write many Lucy scripts in later decades.
On the stage, Miss Ball won favorable notices for a 22-week tour in the title role of Elmer Rice's fantasy ''Dream Girl.''
In 1950, she and Mr. Arnaz tried to sell the ''I Love Lucy'' television show to CBS. Network executives objected, contending the public would not accept the team of an American redhead and a Cuban bandleader with a heavy accent. To prove their case, the couple went on a nationwide vaudeville tour with a 20-minute act that included a ''Cuban Pete-Sally Sweet'' medley. They produced a 30-minute film pilot with $5,000 of their own money. The broadcast officials were won over.
Premiere in 1951
''I Love Lucy'' had its premiere on Oct. 15, 1951, and within a few months millions of Americans tuned in every Monday evening to watch the antics of the Ricardos and their best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley and Vivian Vance).
''I Love Lucy'' was one of the first shows to be filmed rather than performed live, making it possible to have a high-quality print of each episode for rebroadcast, compared with the poor quality of live-show kinescopes. The change eventually led to a shift of television production from New York to Hollywood. The show was the first to be filmed before an audience, and crew members used three cameras at once to permit motion-picture-type editing. The series won more than 200 awards, including five Emmys.
Jack Gould of The Times offered this analysis: ''The extraordinary discipline and intuitive understanding of farce gives 'I Love Lucy' its engaging lilt and lift. Only after a firm foundation of credibility has been established is the element of absdurdity introduced. It is in the smooth transition from sense to nonsense that 'I Love Lucy' imparts both a warmth and a reality to the slapstick romp that comes as the climax.'' Miss Ball's superb timing, Mr. Gould wrote, makes her ''the distaff equivalent of Jack Benny,'' her professional idol.
A Fortune in Rerun Rights
Mr. Arnaz made a fortune for the couple by obtaining rerun rights for the series. He later sold the rights to CBS, allowing the couple's production company, Desilu, to buy a studio, the former RKO lot where Miss Ball's film career had languished and where they had met in 1940 while appearing together in ''Too Many Girls.''
Despite the continuing popularity of ''I Love Lucy,'' the couple sought a less demanding schedule and ended the series in 1957 after making 179 episodes. The format persisted, however, for three more years through a series of hourlong, high-budget, around-the-world specials called ''The Luci-Desi Comedy Hour.'' Their collaboration ended with their divorce in 1960. Mr. Arnaz died in 1986.
Two years after their divorce, Miss Ball revived ''Lucy,'' playing a widow in ''The Lucy Show'' for 156 episodes until 1968, then did ''Here's Lucy'' for 144 episodes from 1968 to 1974. In these two series she was joined by her two children, her longtime friend Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon, who succeeded Mr. Arnaz as her masculine foil. In shaping situation comedies, Miss Ball consistently sought superior writers, followed their advice, gave them unstinting credit and paid close attention to production details.
In later movies, she co-starred with Bob Hope in two comedies, ''The Facts of Life'' (1961) and ''Critic's Choice'' (1963), and appeared with Henry Fonda in ''Yours, Mine and Ours,'' a 1968 farce about a couple with nearly a score of children. In 1974 she starred in a film version of the stage hit ''Mame.''
Last Series Failed
Miss Ball also appeared occasionaly in television specials and played a spunky bag lady in a 1985 television movie, ''Stone Pillow.'' John J. O'Connor of The Times said she was ''as wily and irresistible as ever'' and ''in total control.'' In 1986, she returned to weekly television as a grandmother in another sitcom series called ''Life With Lucy,'' but it failed to gain an audience.
Addressing a group of would-be actors, she said the best way to get along with tough directors was ''don't die when they knock you down.'' She said she was very shy at the start of her career, but overcame it when ''it finally occurred to me that nobody cared a damn.''
Associates called Miss Ball self-reliant, sympathetic and sometimes tempestuous. ''Life is no fun,'' she once said, ''without someone to share it with.''
For many years she and Mr. Morton had homes in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs and in Snowmass, Colo.
Miss Ball is survived by her husband, her daughter, her son and three grandchildren.
Funeral plans were incomplete last night.
Here's another Article from The New York Times
We All Love Lucy
Published: April 27, 1989
If a clown's face is humanity's writ large, then Lucille Ball, who died yesterday, was born to her work. The red of her hair came out of a bottle, but who else would have chosen a shade so fiery? And who in this world ever had bigger, bluer, rounder eyes, or a mouth that slid so quickly into smiling? Hers was the mask of comedy. Remember Lucy trapped in a meat locker? Stuck in a shower stall with a plugged drain, a balky door and the water level rising? Threatened by an ever-rising loaf of bread? In those scrapes and others, she revealed her debt, and kinship, to Charlie Chaplin. He was the Little Tramp; she was the Little Woman.
Nowhere is the resemblance more marked than in their common experience on assembly lines. The Lucille Ball of ''I Love Lucy'' could no more keep up with a procession of chocolates - except by stuffing them in her face - than could the Charlie Chaplin of ''Modern Times'' keep plying his wrenches.
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''I Love Lucy'' ran for only six years, from 1951 to 1957, and Lucille Ball starred in a lot of good TV shows, in films and on Broadway after that. But if she had ended her career when ''I Love Lucy'' ended its run, she'd still have died famous.
One reason has to do with timing: Lucille Ball helped inaugurate the age of television just as surely as Charlie Chaplin helped inaugurate the age of movies.
A second reason has to do with timelessness: Nowhere is ''I Love Lucy'' more honored than in its enduringly popular reruns. The shenanigans of Lucy, Desi and their best friends and neighbors, Fred and Ethel, are as fresh and funny today to their third generation of viewers as they were to their first.
The third and most important reason has to do with the actress who was Lucille Ball: the Little Woman, who, like the Little Tramp, had a genius for making people laugh.
To read some more articles about I Love Lucy go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=PhcvAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ZaoFAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=6299%2C4621411 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=GH1aAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FU8DAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=3542%2C1899248 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8RIrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=o5sFAAAAIBAJ&dq=vivian%20vance&pg=6654%2C3776990 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2TljAAAAIBAJ&sjid=GnQNAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=3193%2C524671 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=KeYeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=rU0EAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=7220%2C3952755 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=gFsyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=kugFAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=4834%2C2914776 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=WAUdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vooEAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=6241%2C3627866 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rrtIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=kwENAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=5542%2C2346924 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=YMtaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=dHoDAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=7038%2C347068 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=NsExAAAAIBAJ&sjid=G-MFAAAAIBAJ&dq=i%20love%20lucy&pg=3900%2C3110760
To watch some clips from I Love Lucy go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=i+love+lucy+episodes
For a Page dedicated to I Love Lucy go to https://web.archive.org/web/20080219070934/http://tvland.classictvhits.com/ILoveLucy/
For a Website dedicated to I Love Lucy go to https://web.archive.org/web/20050212104753/http://www.lucylibrary.com/
For another website dedicated to I Love Lucy go to http://www.lucilleball.net/
To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to http://timvp.com/tv/ilovelucy/
For another I Love Lucy Webpage go to https://web.archive.org/web/20090727150654/http://geocities.com/favoritetvclassics_lucy/
For an episode guide go to http://ctva.biz/US/Comedy/Lucy1_ILoveLucy.htm
For the Lucille Ball File go to https://web.archive.org/web/20050212022735/http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/6066/lucindex.html
To watch I Love Lucy-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/shows/i-love-lucy
For two great reviews of I Love Lucy go to http://www.museum.tv/eotv/ilovelucy.htm and https://web.archive.org/web/20080215233138/www.televisionheaven.co.uk/lucy.htm
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Keywords: Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz (Links updated 5/7/2017)