As the ultimate admirer of standard TV shows, rarely a day has actually passed in years that I have actually not watched my favourite sitcom, I Love Lucy. V the decades and in this current era that “Peak TV” (where over 500 initial scripted series compete because that eyeballs every season), nothing can compare come the relatable, innocent, escapist and purely funny antics of television’s favorite fictional quartet: Lucy and also Ricky Ricardo and Ethel and also Fred Mertz.

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So, what can I phone call you around I Love Lucy the you don’t currently know?

For starters, that debuted on now in 1951, which makes I Love Lucy 68 years old. In one of my favorite episodes (“Lucy tells the Truth,” initially telecast ~ above Nov. 9, 1953), Lucy as Lucy Ricardo says she is 33 years of age. However the real Lucy to be 42, i m sorry would have actually made her 40 once the sitcom began. Desi Arnaz (Ricky) to be 34 at I Love Lucy’s inception, and, in one of the biggest age gaps of any married TV couple, wilhelm Frawley (Fred) was 64 and also Vivian Vance (Ethel) to be 42.

TV at the moment of the ‘I Love Lucy’ premiere

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Back in 1951 there were actually four networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and also DuMont, which introduced in June 1942, dissolved in respectable 1956 (and is well-known for introducing The Honeymooners lay out on variety series Cavalcade the Stars and also the an initial science fiction series, Captain video and His video clip Rangers).

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Minus competition from cable and digital, the lead-in routine was the the utmost prominence for any new TV series. I Love Lucy automatically benefited by the support from Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (which was booked in the Monday 8:30 p.m. ET half-hour right into I Love Lucy). Through season-end in 1951-52, Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts topped the charts (with season one of I Love Lucy 3rd overall behind NBC range showcase Texaco Star Theater).

By season two, i Love Lucy inherited the top spot in all of primetime, never ever ranking listed below No. 3 overall for any type of of its 6 seasons and also ending its operation as the most-watched collection on television. Only two other series (both sitcoms) accomplished that feat: CBS’ The Andy Griffith present and NBC’s Seinfeld.

Additionally, I Love Lucy holds the document for the highest family members rating in a season for any kind of TV collection historically with a 67.3 rating in season 2 (1952-53). Comparably, the top-rated entry in primetime this season, NBC’s Sunday Night Football, is averaging an 11.6 rating.

After ‘Lucy’

I Love Lucy continued to be the go-to regime on Monday (as would Lucy’s succeeding two fight CBS comedies: The Lucy Show native 1962 come 1968, and Here’s Lucy from 1968 come 1974).

And it set the phase for CBS’ decades-long strategy of efficiently airing sitcoms in the Monday 9 p.m. Half-hour. Think The Danny Thomas show (originally titled Make From because that Daddy), The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry R.F.D., Maude, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, Kate & Allie, Newhart, Murphy Brown, Cybill, Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and also a fifty percent Men, 2 damaged Girls and Mike & Molly.

The major actors indigenous The Danny cutting board Show (Danny Thomas, Marjorie Lord, Rusty Hammer and also Angela Cartwright) reprised their functions of Danny, Kathy, Rusty and Linda Williams in the illustration of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour title “Make Room for Danny” (originally telecast on Dec. 1, 1958).

Originally title The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour was a collection of 13 hour-long illustration showcasing the ongoing escapades of the Richardos and the Mertzes. That aired sporadically native 1957 come 1960.

In 1959, Lucy and also Desi changed the favor by guest-starring together the Ricardos ~ above the illustration of The Danny cutting board Show titled “Lucy Upsets the Williams Household.”

Just the Facts…

1. I Love Lucy was the very first TV sitcom to it is in filmed with 3 cameras top top 35-mm film in former of a live audience, which characterized the genre. In ~ a time when repeating any collection was unheard of, Lucy’s pregnant in season two caused rebroadcasting some prior episodes, which verified a success in the ratings and resulted in the formula for off-network syndication.

2. I Love Lucy to be the first television series to feature an interracial couple. Desi Arnaz was of Cuban descent, which was an initial issue by CBS. But Lucy was adamant the the collection include Arnaz.

The censors go not permit the writers on ‘I Love Lucy’ come use the word “pregnant.” “Expecting” to be the agreed ~ above phrase.

3. The censors go not enable the writers on I Love Lucy come use the word “pregnant” as soon as Lucy’s pregnancy in real life resulted in the same case for Lucy Ricardo in season two. “Expecting” was the i agree upon expression to define Lucy’s pregnancy. The first TV series to attribute a TV pregnancy, however, was a little-known entry dubbed Mary Kay and Johnny, special real-life married couple Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns. That aired native 1947 come 1950.

4. Dwight D. Eishenhower’s presidential inauguration attracted 29 million viewers in January 20, 1953. The following day, 44 million viewers tuned in to watch Lucy give birth to small Ricky, i beg your pardon accounted for 72% of every TV homes at the time. In genuine life, Lucy gave birth come Desi Arnaz, Jr. ~ above the very same day little Ricky to be born.

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5. Bea Benaderet to be the an initial choice come play Ethel Mertz, but was unavailable as result of her her role as Blanche Morton ~ above The George Burns and also Gracie Allen Show. Benaderet, however, guest-starred in season one episode “Lucy theatre Cupid” (originally management on Dec. 13, 1951).

6. Barbara Pepper, who is remembered together Doris Ziffel top top sitcom top top Green Acres, was also considered to play Ethel. Pepper in actual life to be Lucy’s an individual friend, and she ultimately showed up in 10 episodes of I Love Lucy (including season one’s “Beaking the Lease,” originally telecast top top Jan. 5, 1952).

7. Lucy’s eventual sidekick, Gale Gordon, to be the an initial choice to play Fred Mertz, yet was contacted come sitcom Our miss Brooks. Gordon, however, appeared twice as Ricky Ricardo’s boss, Alvin Littlefield, owner that the Tropicana Club wherein Ricky’s tape played, and later as a referee on an episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

8. regardless of the abovementioned 22 year age difference, wilhelm Frawley together Fred top top camera through TV wife Ethel seemed like the perfect fit. On the contrary, follow to Stanley Livingston, that played Chip Douglas on My 3 Sons (which featured Frawley as Francis “Bub” O’Casey in the an initial five seasons on ABC).

“Bill was no shy informing me every the factors why the does not treatment for Vivian Vance,” Livingston told me years earlier for a story I created for CBS Watch magazine. “And, in hindsight, i was only about 10 or 11 years old in ~ the time. He had plenty to say.”

9. wilhelm Frawley was no the only I Love Lucy connection to My three Sons (and come Stanley Livingston). Doris Singleton, who played Lucy’s frenemy Caroline Appleby also portrayed Margaret Williams, the mother of Polly (Ronne Troup), Chip’s wife, on My 3 Sons. Earlier on My 3 Sons, Singleton shown the mother of Meredith MacRae, who character married original earliest son Mike (Tim Considine).

10. Shirley Mitchell, the second actress come portray Marion Strong, one more chum of Lucy’s, guest-starred top top My 3 Sons as Uncle Charlie’s (William Demarest) girlfriend Sally.

11. Talk that a proposed spin-off dubbed The Mertzes ~ I Love Lucy (and before The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour) were squelched due to the fact that Vivian Vance no much longer wanted to work-related with Frawley.

Had The Mertzes moved forward, that would have been the first spinoff series in background television. The honor now goes come CBS comedy Pete and Gladys, certification Harry Morgan and Cara Williams, i beg your pardon was introduced on an episode of December Bride. Morgan is ideal remembered for his eight season stint as Col. Sherman Potter top top CBS’ M*A*S*H.

12. Kathryn Card, that played Lucy’s scatterbrained mother Mrs. MacGillicuddy, in reality debuted top top I Love Lucy in another role. In the episode titled “Fan newspaper Interview” (originally management on Feb. 8, 1954), card played a slovenly woman named Minnie Finch who was contacted by Ricky’s society in a publicity stunt.

13. Keith Thibodeaux, currently 68 and also billed together Richard Keith ~ above I Love Lucy, segued native the sitcom as small Ricky to 13 guest appearances together Opie’s (Ron Howard) girlfriend Johnny Paul Jason ~ above The Andy Griffith Show indigenous 1962 to 1966. In 1964, the made a cameo figure on The Lucy Show.

14. William Frawley’s final TV appearance remained in a 1965 illustration of The Lucy Show titled “Lucy and the Countess have actually a steed Guest.” “You know, he reminds me of who I supplied to know,” detailed Lucy as Lucy Carmichael to guest star Ann Sothern.

‘I Love Lucy’ at its finest

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No conversation around the “best” illustration of I Love Lucy are finish without cite of “Lucy go a TV Commercial” (originally management on march 28, 1952), “Job Switching” (May 30, 1952), “Lucy Goes come the Hospital” (Nov. 14, 1952), “LA at Last” (Dec, 2, 1952) and also “Lucy’s Italian Movie” (March 8, 1956). Yet let’s take it a watch at five other standouts worthy of mention:

1. “Ricky Asks for a Raise” (May 2, 1952)

At Lucy’s insistence, Ricky asks his boss Mr. Little field (Gale Gordon) because that a raise, which lands that on the joblessness line. Identified to acquire Ricky’s task back, Lucy, through the Mertzes’ help, publication every table at the Tropicana and disguise themselves as clubgoers who end up being irate and also storm out when they listen Ricky has actually been permit go. Who could forget Lucy together a Marilyn Monroe lookalike or Fred in drag?

2. “No Childen Allowed” (March 20, 1953)

After a daunting night with tiny Ricky, upstairs neighbor Mrs. Trumbell (Elizabeth Patterson in her an initial of 11 illustration appearances on I Love Lucy) reminds landlord Ethel the the apartment lease states no children are allowed. “Don’t issue Lucy, we deserve to rent that apartment similar to that,” states stern Ethel to angry Mrs. Trumbell. “And also if us couldn’t, it wouldn’t matter because my friendship v the Ricardos way more come me 보다 all the money top top Earth.”

Ultimately, Lucy gets worn down of hear Ethel retell the incident. The two have a fight. Ricky and also Fred action in, just to have a squabble themselves. And by episode finish the 2 couples make up and also Lucy now has actually a integrated babysitter for tiny Ricky.

3. “Ethel’s Birthday” (Nov. 29, 1954)

After Fred asks Lucy to choose something special for that to offer Ethel for she birthday, she choose the those riduluous hostess pants. “I want a toaster,” complained Ethel after she discovers the gift, top Lucy to storm out together she proclaims…”I hope you live another 75 years!” the course, Lucy and Ethel ultimately comprise by illustration end, i beg your pardon is constantly a staple on I Love Lucy…a happy ending.

4. “First Stop” (Jan. 17, 1955)

En route to Los Angeles by car, the Ricardos and also Mertzes pull right into a rundown establishment run by a proprietor named Mr. Skinner (Olin Howland), who uses the foursome accommodations in a damaged down single-room cabin (that rattles every time the noisy train passes). Remember Ethel exiting the bathroom through toothpaste anywhere her face?

Interesting footnote: In the next episode, “Tennessee Bound” (Nov. 18, 1954), eventual mega-producer Aaron Spelling has actually a bit part as a gas terminal attendant. “I began out together an actor,” Spelling once told me. “But the job-related was no steady and fate took me to another direction. Eventually, I finished up functioning again v Lucy top top Life through Lucy.”

Life with Lucy, developed by Aaron Spelling, was Lucy’s fourth regularly reserved sitcom. Unlike she prior 3 hits, it just lasted because that one fifty percent season, this time on alphabet in the loss of 1986.

5. “Country club Dance” (March 21, 1957)

After the husbands initially beef about attending a nation club dance (including Connecticut neighborhood Ralph Ramsay), their interest unexpectedly rises upon the entry of a sexy young woman called Diana Jordan (Barbara Eden). So, Lucy hatches a system to make the women an ext glamorous. Quoting Eden’s Diana…”But yes!”

Eight years after guest-starring top top I Love Lucy, Barbara Eden, currently 88, started her legendary function on NBC’s I Dream the Jeannie.

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‘I Love Lucy’ at Present

Amazon Prime, CBS every Access, Hulu and also Hallmark Channel at this time featuring everyone’s favourite redhead and company. And, every December, CBS uses a colorized one-hour primetime one-of-a-kind featuring two fan favorite episodes.