The first-ever National Tour of 'I Love Lucy Live on Stage' is currently in the midst of their second of three weeks at Nashville's Polk Theatre located in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). To celebrate this current incarnation of one of my personal favorite TV shows ever, I thought I'd share 100 Facts about the original iconic 1950s sitcom and its legendary stars.
1. Lucille Ball's real name is Lucille Desiree Ball. Desi Arnaz's real name was Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III.
2. Lucille was born in Jamestown, NY. Desi was born in Santiago de Cuba.
3. Her natural hair color was brown.
4. She bleached her hair blonde when she began acting.
5. Her first movie role came in the 1933 film, Roman Scandals.
6. She played a slave girl in the Eddie Cantor comedy, but was not listed in the credits.
7. She was in the same acting class as Bette Davis.
8. Lucille was among the many starlets who auditioned for Gone With The Wind.
9. When she first began acting in the chorus of Broadway shows, she went by the name Diane Belmont.
10. Early in her career, Lucille would say she was born in Bute, Montana.
11. At the age of sixteen, she became romantically involved with Johnny DeVita, the son of a known gangster.
12. Among her best early movies, the dramas The Big Street with Henry Fonda and Five Came Back, the story of survivors of a plane crash who must decide who has to remain on the desserted island, when only five can return to civilization.
13. During her early years in Hollywood, she became a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures.
14. Years later, she and Desi purchased RKO Studios and began Desilu Productions, of course combining their first names to make up the company name.
15. Lucy and Desi's production company for the film Forever Darling was called Zanra, Arnaz spelled backwards.
16. When Lucille and Desi divorced, she took ownership and eventually changed the company name to Lucille Ball Productions.
17. Taking a cue from her parents, Lucille and Desi's daughter, Lucie Arnaz and her husband Laurence Luckinbill started a production company called Arluck.
18. In 1935, Lucille had a bit part in her 19th film, Roberta with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
19. She and Ginger Rogers became lifelong friends during the filming of the movie.
20. In 1937, she co-starred with pal Rogers and Katharine Hepburn in Stage Door.
21. Many of her early roles were film noir, rather than comedy.
22. She co-starred alongside George Sanders, Charles Coburn, Alan Napier and Boris Karloff in Lured in 1947. Side note: among my collection of vintage Lucy items, I own an original movie poster from this film that I had beautifully restored.
23. Desi Arnaz is credited for utilizing the three camera technique to record I Love Lucy. The use of three cameras had been a standard in movie production, allowing for edits and recording to film, instead of kineskope, which was used primarily to record for live broadcast. Adapting this technique and the recording to film for their show, Desi essentially created TV first series to thereafter be rerun.
24. I Love Lucy was loosely based on a radio program My Favorite Husband.
25. Lucille provided the voice of the wife on My Favorite Husband.
26. CBS didn't think the viewing public would accept the coupling of a Latin American bandleader and his American wife.
27. Lucy's beginnings as a contract player were evident throughout her career, as she used the same co-stars, writers and crew over and over. Bob Carroll, Jr., Madlyn Pugh and Jess Oppenheimer, her principal writers, often reteamed with the star on subsequent projects.
28. Vivian Vance co-starred in I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show and guest-starred Here's Lucy.
29. Gale Gordon played Ricky's boss at the Tropicana in I Love Lucy. He then played Lucy's banker, Mr. Mooney in The Lucy Show, her brother-in-law, Uncle Harry in Here's Lucy and her daughter's father-in-law, Curtis in Life With Lucy.
30. Aaron Spelling had a bit part in an episode of I Love Lucy as a gas station attendant.
31. Her final series, Life With Lucy was produced by Spelling Entertainment.
32. Mary Wickes played the ballet instructor in and episode of I Love Lucy. She also appeared in the Job Switching episode and later was a recurring character in both The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy.
33. Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie) played a flirtatious young girl at a club dance in and episode of I Love Lucy.
34. Richard Crenna of The Real McCoys played a teen with a crush on Lucy in the I Love Lucy episode titled Young Fans.
35. Janet Waldo, the voice of Judy Jetson, also starred in that episode as Ricky's crush.
36. Natalie Schafer, who gained fame as Lovey Howell on Gilligan's Island, played a finishing school instructor in an episode of I Love Lucy.
37. Schafer also appeared in the film Forever Darling co-starring Lucille and Desi.
38. The movie, The Long Long Trailer was produced in the heyday of I Love Lucy and was basically a two hour Lucy episode, with Lucille and Desi playing newlyweds Nicky and Tacy.
39. Lucille's singing voice was dubbed in most of her early movies.
40. Critics of Mame often said her voice should have been dubbed in that movie as well.
41. Lucille was thought to be too old to play Mame as she was in her 60s.
42. Close-ups of Lucille were shot through filters to soften her face.
43. Bea Arthur co-starred in both the original stage version and the 1974 film.
44. The Golden Girls was taped on the same studio soundstage as I Love Lucy.
45. Because of the success of The Golden Girls, Lucille re-teamed with her old I Love Lucy writers and ABC produced the ill-fated Life With Lucy.
46. In a foolish bit of programming, Life With Lucy aired on ABC on the same night The Golden Girls aired on NBC, when it would have been more prudent to air it on another night, in hopes of snagging the same audience.
47. The role of the celebrity next door, in a later episode of I Love Lucy, played by Tallulah Bankhead, was originally written for Lucille's former acting school pal, Bette Davis.
48. At the suggestion of Max Factor, and using a henna rinse, Lucille dyed her hair red to stand out against the sea of other actresses and models.
49. During her MGM days, she was called Technicolor Tessie because of her vibrant red locks.
50. Lucille starred in 81 theatrical and television films between 1933 and 1985.
51. While Ricky and Lucy Ricardo were supposed to be young marrieds, Lucille was 40 and Desi 34.
52. The famously high pitched voice of Lucy Ricardo was not Lucille's natural voice, she raised it an octave or two to sound younger.
53. Desi, Jr. and Lucie starred with their mom in Here's Lucy.
54. Little Ricky was not played by Desi Jr.
55. Desi, Jr. did appear in the final half-hour episode of I Love Lucy, standing beside Viv at the dedication of the minuteman statue.
56. Little Ricky was played by a total of five infants and one child actor.
57. Of those actors, Keith Thibodeaux was the only one to have a speaking part, as he played Little Ricky as a young child.
58. Keith Thibodeaux was billed as Richard Keith.
59. After I Love Lucy, Keith Thibodeaux played Opie Taylor's pal, Johnny Paul on The Andy Griffith Show.
60. Desilu produced The Andy Griffith Show.
61. Desilu also produced Star Trek.
62. Since it's debut in 1951, I Love Lucy has been seen somewhere in the world at some point each day.
63. In the episode Pioneer Days, in which Lucy and Ethel make a loaf of bread from scratch that ends up being a huge loaf that shoots out of the over, Lucille insisted they use real bread and had a local bakery custom bake the enormous loaf.
64. In the episode titled Job Switching, often simply called The Candy Factory, Lucille and Vivian actually used real chocolate during the infamous conveyor belt scene.
65. In the same episode, Ricky slips and falls while cooking rice. In reality, Desi's stumble wasn't scripted, but the director thought it was funny, so it was left intact.
66. Also in that episode, when Lucy and a factory worker slap each with a handful of chocolate, her co-worker didn't actually slap her twice, two camera's caught the action and the slap was edited together to look like two different blows.
67. During the season's when the Ricardo's lived in New York, their telephone number is given as three different numbers. Murray Hill 5-9975, Circle 7-2099 and Murray Hill 5-9099.
68. Squeaky voice actress, Mary Jane Croft played Lucy's pal Betty Ramsey in I Love Lucy.
69. She also played Lucy pal, Mary Jane Lewis in Here's Lucy and The Lucy Show.
70. Actress Doris Singleton played Lucy's nemesis Carolyn Appleby, in her first appearance, her name is Lillian Appleby.
71. Tennessee Ernie Ford played Lucy's Cousin Ernie in three I Love Lucy shows, he also guest starred as Homer Higgins in The Lucy Show.
72. In the episode LA At Last, Lucy disguises herself by wearing a rubbery nose so William Holden won't recognize her. He lights her cigarette and her fake nose catches fire, just as the script called for, Lucille then dips her nose in her coffee cup to extinguish the flame, that was ad-libbed.
73. Lucy Richardo's full name is heard in the episode Fred and Ethel Fight. It is Lucille Esmerelda McGillicuddy-Ricardo.
74. Ethel's middle name depended on the episode, once it was Mae, another time it was Louise and still another it was Roberta. The latter a wink to the actress as Vivian Vance was born Vivian Roberta Jones.
75. Contrary to popular TV legend, Vivan Vance was not contractually obligated to put on extra weight before each season taped.
76. While Lucille did employee Elois Jennsen as costume designer for I Love Lucy, Lucille often wore her costumes numerous times, so the audience would be more likely to believe Lucy and Ricky were an average American couple.
77. In the episode titled Lucy is Enceinte, network censors wouldn't allow the use of the word pregnant, thus the french in the title.
78. In that episode, when Ricky eventually finds out Lucy is pregnant, real life emotions took over and Lucille and Desi get caught up in the moment, so much so that you hear a crew member call out, "Sing the baby song."
79. In the same episode, Lucy is seen reading McCall's Magazine, the cover story...I Love Lucy.
80. Also in the episode, when Lucy and Ricky hug at then end, Lucille is crying real tears, she and Desi were expecting a baby in real life.
81. Lucille wanted to reshoot the scene, but director William Asher wouldn't allow it. Asher was later married to and directed his wife Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched.
82. In 1953, Lucille was subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities because she had registered to vote in the Communist party at her grandfather's insistence in 1936.
83. After her testimony, Desi quipped to the audience of the taping of the episode titled The Girls Go Into Business that, "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that's not legitimate."
84. Fred did not love Ethel. The actors who played the Ricardo's neighbors did not get along.
85. In 1958, Desi proposed a spinoff series featuring Fred and Ethel. Vance declined, saying she couldn't stomach working with Frawley on a daily basis.
86. In the 1953 I Love Lucy received its highest ratings share with 71.7% of all televisions tuned to the episode titled Lucy Goes to the Hospital. The only television program to ever garner a larger share, Elvis' appearance on Ed Sullivan in 1956 with 82.6%.
87. There were a total of 181 episodes of I Love Lucy, this includes the rarely seen pilot and Christmas episodes. During the run of the show, Lucy was the number one show for four years, and was the first series to end its run in the number one spot. After I Love Lucy, only two other series, The Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld have ended their runs in the number one spot.
88. I Love Lucy was sponsored by Phillip Morris Cigarette Company.
89. The address of the Ricardo's New York apartment building was 623 East 68th Street. There is no 623 on East 68th. That street number would land you smack in the middle of the East River.
90. When the half hour episodes of I Love Lucy ended after six seasons, Lucy, Ricky, Little Ricky, Fred and Ethel left apartment living in New York and moved to a house Westport, Connecticut for the hour-long Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour episodes.
91. During the course of the show, Lucy and the gang were world travelers. Episodes took the foursome to Hollywood, Paris, Scotland, Mexico, Sun Valley and Italy.
92. The original animated opening credits of I Love Lucy were created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.
93. Lucille Ball initially wanted James Gleason to play Fred Mertz, having worked with him in the film Miss Grant Takes Richmond in 1949.
94. When Gale Gordon appeared as Ricky's boss, Mr. Littlefield, it wasn't the first time the veteran actor worked with Lucille. He had voiced the character of Mr. Atterbury, her husband's boss on the radio program, My Favorite Husband.
95. In the Vitameatavegamin episode, the script supervisor for I Love Lucy is seen on camera as the commercial script supervisor.
96. The 13 episodes of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour originally aired under the title The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show. In the 1990s, the hour long episodes were syndicated as We Love Lucy.
97. In 1957, the first episode of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, titled Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana, viewers were finally treated to the story of how Lucy and Ricky met. The flashback episode also features the first meeting between the Ricardos and the Mertzes. Side note: The episode also features my journalistic idol, 50s gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper.
98. On February 8, 1960, Lucille Ball received not one, but two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures, located at 6436 Hollywood Blvd., the other for TV, located at 6100 Hollywood Blvd.
99. Lucille Ball was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards throughout her career, winning 4 for acting. On June 29, 1989, just two months after Lucille Ball passed away, her longtime friend and occasional co-star, Bob Hope posthumously presented her with a special Governor's Lifetime Achievement Emmy.
100. The theme song to I Love Lucy actually has lyrics. Desi sang them in the episode titled Lucy's Last Birthday. They are as follows:
"I love Lucy and she loves me/We're as happy as two can be/Sometimes we quarrel but then/How we love making up again/Lucy kisses like no one can/She's my missus and I'm her man/And life is heaven you see/'Cause I love Lucy, Yes I love Lucy and Lucy loves me!"
In case you missed my review of 'I Love Lucy Live on Stage', CLICK HERE. If you've enjoyed this article celebrating the National Tour of 'I Love Lucy Live on Stage' and the comedy legend who inspired it, please click the 'subscribe' tab located at the beginning of this article near my byline. For tickets to the remaining Nashville dates of 'I Love Lucy Live on Stage', CLICK HERE. If you're not in the Nashville area, but are interested in seeing the show in a town near you, CLICK HERE to check out the tour's official site.