Lucille Ball decided to go ahead with the series after having a dream in which Carole Lombard - the screwball comedy actress that died in a plane crash and who was a close friend of Lucy - recommended she take a shot at the risky idea of entering television, and to get off of radio.
Desi Arnaz invented the rerun during the pregnancy episodes of the series by re-playing some episodes (and change some of the scenery and lines) from the first season to give Lucille Ball time to rest and start to raise their new born son, Desi Arnaz Jr..
Sometimes, Desi Arnaz's distinctive laugh can be heard on the laugh track, especially when he could not control his humor, or laughed extremely quick, just after a deep breath of inhaling air.
William Frawley, aka "Fred Mertz", had a well known and longtime issue with alcoholism. He was advised in the beginning of the series to stay sober, or be terminated. So, if you look closely, a majority of his scenes display his character having his hands deep in his pockets. This would therefore not show his hands trembling, due to his alcoholic withdrawals.
The valentine heart figure in the opening credits, closing credits, and commercial breaks, shown in syndication, was not the original opening credits' scenery. When the series originally aired on CBS, the opening credits featured animated clay figures of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz along with the sponsor's product - Philip Morris cigarettes, for instance. The valentine heart figure was created and added for the opening credits and closing credits when CBS began rerunning the series in 1958.
This was one of the first TV shows to be filmed in Hollywood, at a time when many shows were done live in New York. It pioneered the use of three film cameras simultaneously, and the results were high-quality prints of a classic comedy series preserved for future TV audiences.
When Lucy was pregnant with Little Ricky, (Desi Arnaz Jr. in reality), CBS network censors did not allow her to say the word "pregnant." She had to say "expecting" instead. The episode title itself opted for a French touch: "Lucy is Enceinte".
The full names of Fred and Ethel are Frederick Hobart Mertz and Ethel Louise Roberta Mae Potter Mertz. (Ethel's middle names, Louise, Roberta and Mae, are 'collected' from several episodes, never used all together; Potter was Ethel's maiden name.)
In the episode "Little Ricky Gets a Dog", both Ricky and Lucy separately try to sneak out of the house without the other knowing. During this scene, when Lucy is putting on her jacket you can hear a woman in the audience say, "She beat him to it."
In 1990, a 16mm print of the original pilot episode was found. The opening titles and first few seconds of the opening narration were damaged beyond repair. This scene was reconstructed for DVD in 2002 with a re-recorded narration by Bob LeMond, 51 years after he originally recorded it.
William Frawley and Vivian Vance in reality, deeply hated each other. On the show, displays of affection were forced. The main reason that the series lasted for six seasons was the cash bonus each one received, immediately, once both signed their name to an additional CBS contract.
For the rest of her life, Vivian Vance re-told the story about her contract with I Love Lucy (1951). Vivian said her contract stated she always had to weigh 10 pounds more than Lucille Ball. Even though Vivian and Lucille remained good friends, it was never confirmed if the contract statement was true or just a joke. The two of them were often seen laughing and joking about it on various talk shows and interviews.
The writers mirrored the actors' real lives in presenting the character back stories. Lucy Ricardo, like Lucille Ball was born in West Jamestown, New York, (as mentioned by the actor that acted as a doctor that delivered her, in I Love Lucy: The Passports (1955)), she attended Celeron High School, and came to Manhattan as young woman. Ricky Ricardo, like Desi Arnaz, was from Cuba, and both led their own Latin America bands. Ricky and Lucy, like Desi and Lucy, eloped to Connecticut to get married. Ethel Mertz, like Vivian Vance, was from Albuquerque, New Mexico where they got their start in show business by appearing in the Albuquerque Little Theater. Like William Frawley, Fred Mertz was a Mid-Westerner who was raised on a farm and enjoyed a successful run as one of the earlier vaudeville actors.
There were plans to spin off the Mertzes on to their show after I Love Lucy (1951)s The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957)s show ended. While William Frawley was all for it, Vivian Vance was totally against it due to her hatred of Frawley. Because of this, their spats even became more furious.
I Love Lucy (1951) was voted number two in TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. Only NBC's program, Seinfeld (1989) topped the 1950 decade series of all programs, as it was rated number one.
To this day, many people still think that 'Little Ricky' (acted by Richard Keith in the last season of the series), was their actual son in real life. He wasn't. However, Desi Arnaz was very fond of him, and the likeness was remarkable, not least due to the fact that Richard Keith started learning how to play the drums as a three year old.
This show attracted numerous huge Hollywood names as guest stars who did the show not for the money (which was actually very little), but because they liked the show or were personal friends of the stars. The impressive list includes Tennessee Ernie Ford, William Holden, John Wayne, Bob Hope, Will Wright, Elsa Lanchester, Van Johnson, Orson Welles, Rock Hudson, Eve Arden, Charles Boyer, Harpo Marx, Barbara Pepper, Pepito Pérez, Peggy Rea, Herb Vigran, Barbara Eden, Arthur Q. Bryan, Janet Waldo, Richard Crenna, Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark, Gale Gordon, Natalie Schafer, Hedda Hopper, Bob Jellison Louis Nicoletti, Richard Reeves, Doris Singleton, Hy Averback, Kathryn Card, Jay Novello, George Reeves, Mary Jane Croft, Jerry Hausner, Elizabeth Patterson, Aaron Spelling, Ross Elliot, Hans Conried, The Pied Pipers, Johnny Jacobs plus others, just to type out a majority of their public and most popular public names. Others were friends, of their apartment, and some were band or musical members.
There is a subtle hint in the series of the quick costume changes that go along with filming live TV shows: In many of the scenes where Lucy and Ricky are in bed, pay attention to when they are getting in and out of bed. Whenever they swing their feet in and out, you'll see that Desi Arnaz is wearing black dress socks with his pajamas and Lucille Ball is wearing stockings (you can see the reinforced toes and heels) under her pajamas or gowns, she was wearing, at their bedtime scenes.
William Frawley had a clause in his contract that excused him from filming if his beloved New York Yankees were in the World Series, which they were each year the show was on the air except one (1954).
Although they slept in twin beds throughout the entire run of the series, during the first two seasons of the show, 1951-1953, Ricky and Lucy slept in twin beds that were pushed together on the same box spring. Once little Ricky was born CBS suggested that the beds be pushed apart to diminish the impact of the suggested sexual history of Lucy and Ricky. The only time we see the Ricardo's in two bed pushed together again is when they first move to the bigger apartment into the Mertz' building, however, subsequently after that the beds are pushed apart again.
In March of 1977 a Disco version of the I Love Lucy theme became a hit single. It stayed on the dance charts for three months and on the pop charts for seven weeks.
In I Love Lucy: Ricky has Labor Pains (1953), Lucy is reading a McCall's magazine. On the cover is a sketch of a baby, and next to it is this series' title, I Love Lucy (1951).
The back door, so often used in both the Ricardos' and Mertzes apartments was in actuality a common trait of older buildings in Los Angeles and not of those in New York.
You can always tell when Lucy is about to get hit in the face with something messy (pie, water, etc) because Lucille Ball would remove her signature false eyelashes.
Mary Jane Croft played 3 different characters on I Love Lucy: Betty Ramsey, Evelyn Bigsby and Cynthia Harcourt.
CBS executives balked heavily at the casting of William Frawley, owing to his reputation as an alcoholic and general rabblerouser. After his hiring, Desi Arnaz informed him that if he came to work drunk or missed work for anything besides a genuine illness more than one time, he'd be written out of the show. Frawley never arrived at filming drunk or impaired, and typically learned his lines quicker than the other series regulars. He and Arnaz became and remained close friends, even years after the show ended production.
While the Ricardos and the Mertzes were in Hollywood, the backdrop of Hollywood outside of the Ricardo's hotel suite replicates the view as it would have been seen from the top of the stages at the Desilu lot on Cahuenga Boulevard (now Ren-Mar Studios), two blocks to the west of Vine Street where a majority of the I Love Lucy (1951) episodes were shot. Most of the landmarks at Hollywood and Vine that are on the backdrop (except for the Brown Derby Restaurant, which was demolished in the 1980's) may still be seen at that location today, over fifty years later. The Capitol Records Building was under construction when these episodes were being filmed and is not seen on the backdrop. The "Beverly Palms Hotel" is a false hotel name, but its interior and exterior set designs combined elements of the Hollywood Plaza Hotel, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Gale Gordon was the first choice to play Fred Mertz, but he was not available. Their second choice, James Gleason was also not available. When they came across William Frawley, Desi Arnaz wanted him, even though he was told that Frawley would be a poor choice because he was a womanizer, a gambler, and an alcoholic. Arnaz said, "He's perfect!". The reason of Desi Arnaz's remark is because both actors had the same type of personality, almost like identical twins, except their age difference and race. Frawley was an American and Arnaz was a Cuban Spaniard.
The Ricardos' address was 623 E. 68th Street. However, E. 68th Street in Manhattan only goes up to 600 - which means that the Ricardos' building was in the middle of the East River.
During the course of living in their New York apartment, the Ricardos had three different telephone numbers. The first was Murray-Hill 5-9975, (which is 695-9975). Second was Circle-7-2099, (which is 247-2099). Their third and final number was Murray-Hill 5-9099, (which is 695-9099). In reality, these numbers were unused telephone numbers of the New York Bell Telephone Company. When the numbers were entered into service, the Bell company would advise the show's producers and give them a new number to use. Murray Hill and Circle were also actual call names used in Manhattan, during the 1950's.
Bea Benaderet and Gale Gordon were the first choices of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz' to act as the Mertz household and their apartment landlords. Gordon was unavailable and Lucille Ball was unable to get Bea Benederet out of her contract on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950).
The program began as a radio program in 1948 called, "My Favorite Husband". And during the program, it was Richard Denning who played Lucy's husband, on the radio. When CBS decided to take the show to television, it was Lucille Ball's personal idea to bring her real life husband, as of then, Desi Arnaz, so she could act more natural and be easier.
Frank Nelson appeared on the show in numerous roles, including that of game show host Freddy Filmore. (Also, as an uncredited police officer, very often). During the final season he took on the occasional role of Betty Ramsey's husband, Ralph Ramsey.
References to the series' original sponsor, Philip Morris, can be seen in some episodes. Especially the scene in I Love Lucy: Lucy Does a TV Commercial (1952) in which Lucy dressed up as Johnny the Bellhop, the Philip Morris icon.
This show did not use any laugh tracks; all the laughter was authentically from the live studio audience. A handful of episodes presented practical impossibilities for filming in front of a live audience; these episodes were then screened for live audiences, and the laughter from those screenings was then edited into the audio track.
CBS cut approximately four minutes out of each episode (to allow for more commercials) when they prepared the 16mm television syndication prints. Much of this was accomplished by simply cutting footage from the beginning and end of scenes.
All three sponsors of I Love Lucy (1951), were Philip Morris Cigarettes, Procter & Gamble's Cheer Detergent and Lilt Home Permanent.
In "Lucy and Ethel Buy the Same Dress" Lucy and Vivian Vance sing Cole Porter's "Friendship" together. Lucille Ball had previously performed this song with Red Skelton and Gene Kelly in the movie "Du Barry Was a Lady" (1943).
Jerry Hausner; who played the recurring character Jerry the Agent on I Love Lucy; did not enjoy working on that show; he said in an interview recently . Jerry Hausner doesn't remember his days working on "I Love Lucy" as happy ones, but then, he didn't expect them to be. "You don't think in terms of whether you're happy or not when you're doing it," Hausner says. "You're making a living."Hausner played Ricky Ricardo's agent, Jerry, on many episodes of the champion warhorse and on the "I Love Lucy" pilot film - made in March, 1951, long thought lost, and recently aired for the first time ever by CBS. Hausner is believed to be the only surviving cast member from that pilot. "In the series, I was going to be Desi's best friend and manager and all that stuff," says Hausner, 81, who lives in Encino, Calif., and whose voice sounds nearly as young and punchy as it did 40 years ago. "The Mertzes were never even thought of at that time." Unfortunately for him, after the pilot was made, it was decided that the show needed additional foils for Lucy, and so landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz, forever dropping by from their apartment downstairs, were created. The series began the following fall. Hausner did not become a regular, but Jerry the agent was a recurring character. And because Hausner had done the voice of Baby Snooks's little brother on Fannie Brice's radio show, he got an additional, off-camera assignment. He supplied the voice of Little Ricky as an infant. If you hear Little Ricky googling and gurgling, that's Jerry Hausner. Hausner's memories of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the costars and owners of the show, are not very fond. "Lucy was always wrapped up in whatever she was doing, and as many times as I was on the show, if anybody had asked her my name, she wouldn't have known it," Hausner says. "A lot of stars are like that. "But I have great respect for her talent. She was hard-working and tireless. She worked 16, 18 hours a day. Even when she was pregnant, she was like a locomotive. And she expected everybody else to be." For Arnaz, the executive producer, Hausner has fewer kind words. He remembers him as a boozer with an abusive temper. One night, during filming, an on-stage telephone hookup between the two men failed, just as Hausner had warned Arnaz it would. "He became enraged," Hausner recalls. "He screamed at me and called me names in front of the audience. He was drunk a lot of the time, and he could be . . . ornery . . . . I went to one of the producers and said, 'Write me out of this thing."' Before leaving, he returned some of Arnaz's insults. "I said to him, 'All your talent is in your wife's name! I'll be on this show when you're off it!' And a funny thing - six years later, after the divorce, Lucy was doing a different series and had me on. And she said to me, 'Well, you were right. You're here, and he's not."' Hausner, whose last sitcom appearance on TV was in the short-lived CBS series "Coming of Age" in 1988, claims he had never seen an episode of "I Love Lucy" until a few years ago. This gives him a distinction relatively rare among living Americans. "I never watched it back then, no. We were so busy working, we never watched TV. And I lived in Europe for several years. I've been living my life and not worrying about television. "But recently, I have seen some of the shows. Since my wife passed away, I've been making my own breakfast, and I watch it in the mornings in the kitchen. And I've been very excited about how good I was." All over the world, "I Love Lucy" reruns keep playing. You might assume Hausner and other actors who appeared on the series get regular residual payments. Don't. "I never got a nickel in my life," says Hausner. "There was no such thing as residuals at that time." Perhaps he sounds a little bitter. But he does know he's part of television history. And he bears no grudges against Lucy or Desi. "Everybody wants to think movie and TV stars are wonderful people," Hausner says. "They are - in their own way. They're powerhouses. They're like machines. They can't get along with anybody for very long."
It is often said to be the first television show to have the Three Camera System using film. But other television shows did beforehand such as Jackie Gleason's "The Life of Riley" (1949) which also was shot with the Three Camera System using film.
Three of the four leads on this show would follow up this sitcom with another starring role on another top ten network sitcom. Lucy and Viv would famously go on to star in the successful sequel series to this; The Lucy Show. And William Frawley would go on to star as Uncle Bub in My Three Sons; another sitcom hit from the early 60s. The only one who did not go on to further sitcom stardom was Desi Arnaz; although his son and daughter would star in CBS's follow up to the Lucy Show; 1968's Here's Lucy; co starring daughter Lucie Arnaz and son Desi Arnaz Junior.
Lucille Ball, though perfectly trained in song-and-dance vehicles, had made a name for herself in the movies and on television, but never in a Broadway musical. Wildcat, written by N. Richard Nash, with a score by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, aimed to correct this oversight. The story of a would-be oil prospector, Wildcat Jackson, who hopes to find a gusher in 1912 Centavo City in order to provide for her sister, Wildcat struck gold when it opened to rave reviews on December 16, 1960 at the Alvin Theatre with Keith Andes, a popular television star, and Paula Stewart also in the cast. However, it closed unexpectedly after playing 172 performances when Ball, struck by a virus and debilitated by exhaustion, had to withdraw from it. It yielded one major song, "Hey, Look Me Over," which then Vice-President Lyndon Johnson used during his presidential campaign. First LP release: December 29, 1960.
The producers of I Love Lucy, the Arnazes and the writing staff all consulted with three religious authorities at the time before airing the Lucy Is Enceinte episode; to make sure none of the material was objectionable. The religious authorities were a catholic priest, a rabbi and a reverend. Ironically, the religious consultants were less puritanical than the CBS censors were. The religious men had no problem with Lucy saying she was "pregnant"; but the censors made her say she was "expecting!" The episode title was even in Spanish to avoid further controversy.
My Little Margie (1952) was I Love Lucy (1951)s "summer replacement" on CBS during 1952, because the reruns were not yet invented.
The Mertzes, Fred (William Frawley) and Ethel (Vivian Vance) were absent from only a few episodes, all in Season 1 (1951-1952). Neither Fred nor Ethel appeared in I Love Lucy: Pilot (1951), I Love Lucy: Lucy Plays Cupid (1952) and I Love Lucy: The Young Fans (1952). Ethel appeared without Fred in I Love Lucy: The Quiz Show (1951) and I Love Lucy: Lucy Is Jealous of Girl Singer (1951). Fred appeared without Ethel in I Love Lucy: The Audition (1951) and I Love Lucy: Lucy Does a TV Commercial (1952).
Little Ricky's dog, Fred, introduced in the sixth season, was a Cairn Terrier, the same breed as Toto in The Wizard of Oz.
On Tuesday, August 11th, 2009, the US Postal Service issued a pane of twenty 44¢ commemorative postage stamps honoring early USA television programs. A booklet with 20 picture postal cards was also issued. The stamp honoring "I Love Lucy" pictured stars Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance in a scene from I Love Lucy: Job Switching (1952), in which Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz work at a conveyor belt in a chocolate-candy factory. Other TV shows honored in the Early Television Memories issue were: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), The Dinah Shore Show (1951), Dragnet (1951), "The Ed Sullivan Show" (originally titled The Ed Sullivan Show (1948)), The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950), Hopalong Cassidy (1952), The Honeymooners (1955), "The Howdy Doody Show" (original title: The Howdy Doody Show (1947)), Kukla, Fran and Ollie (1947), Lassie (1954), The Lone Ranger (1949), Perry Mason (1957), The Phil Silvers Show (1955), The Red Skelton Hour (1951), "Texaco Star Theater" (titled The Milton Berle Show (1948), 1954-1956), The Tonight Show (which began as The Tonight Show (1953)), The Twilight Zone (1959), and You Bet Your Life (1950).
 Not surprisingly, the three boys who portrayed "Little Ricky" are the only surviving regular cast members.
Three days after I Love Lucy premiered, in October of 1951, her sword and sorcery fantasy adventure epic Magic Carpet, co-starring Raymond Burr, and where she plays a mysterious middle Eastern princess, Princess Narah; (not unlike the "Maharincess of Franistan" Lucy pretended to be in The "Publicity Agent" episode on I Love Lucy, although that part was played for laughs and this was dead serious), premiered. Obviously I Love Lucy and Perry Mason had a much bigger impact than this long forgotten Sword and Sandals epic.
Lucille Ball co-starred with Talula Bankhead in the "Celebrity Next Door" episode of the Lucy/Desi Comedy Hour, as well as with Vincent Price in the "Lucy Cuts Vincent Price" episode of Here's Lucy, as well as with Ida Lupino in "Lucy's Summer Vacation" episode of the Lucy Desi Comedy Hour; as well as with Ethyl Merman on the Lucy Show's "Lucy Teaches Ethyl Merman to Sing." All of these actors were also villains on Batman (1966) as well.
Quinn Martin, a film editor who later became an executive producer of the series "The Untouchables" for Desilu Productions, married one of Lucy's writers, Madelyn Pugh Davis.
Bea Benaderet was Lucille Ball's first choice to portray Ethel but Bea couldn't get out of an existing contract to take the role.
After I Love Lucy became a runaway success, several sitcoms soon followed that also had a three word title naming a female lead character. Among them were I Married Joan, My Little Margie, Our Miss Brooks, Life with Elizabeth, Heaven for Betsy, It's Always Jan, and Love That Jill.
In 1951 CBS offered Lucille Ball a contract to transition her successful four year radio comedy program "My Favorite Husband" , into a weekly TV program, which was later renamed "I Love Lucy". She accepted on the condition that her real life husband (and real life band leader), Desi Arnaz, play her husband on the show. CBS strongly resisted the idea of using a Cuban immigrant on the show, fearing he would never be accepted by American audiences. However, Ball refused to do the show without him and the network eventually relented.
Lucille Ball wanted to prevent Ricky's Cuban heritage from becoming a source of racist ridicule. She created a rule for the series whereby only Lucy could make fun of Ricky's accent and occasional garbled English. No other character on the show was permitted to poke fun at him for his cultural background.
The daughter of the sultan is the Shezadi, the sultana or the begum. Not the maharincess.
Believe it or not, the original inspiration for this show was a book, Mr. And Mrs. Cugat, by Iris Rorick, which followed the misadventures of scheming suburban housewife Liz Cugat and her banker husband. This was eventually re-worked into a movie Are Husbands Really Necessary in 1941; and eventually into a 1948 radio show starring Lucille Ball and Richard Denning; which eventually was adapted into the legendary 1951 sitcom I Love Lucy. It's hard to think of I Love Lucy as being an adaptation of a book; but indeed it was! Be that as it may, all everyone remembers these days is I Love Lucy; and everything else pretty much faded into oblivion; including the source material!