Lucille Ball would have been 100 years old today, and fans around world are celebrating her special day with I Love Lucy viewing parties and recalling the life that changed the face of television. Lucille made her mark as a young comedienne on the vaudeville stage and as a starlet in Hollywood, but it took a chance meeting with a young Cuban band leader named Desi Arnaz to set the wheels in motion to change her life forever. Sit tight. We got some ‘splainin’ to do.
Lucille Ball was a shrewd businesswoman, way ahead of her time in the Hollywood business world. She knew that if she didn’t get the roles she felt highlighted her creative talent, she would create them herself.
Thus, Desilu Productions was formed, and with that, she had the creative control she needed to produce a vehicle for herself and Desi to show the world what great partners they were, onscreen and off.
I Love Lucy ran from 1951 to 1957 and was groundbreaking for several important reasons. First, it was the first to use three cameras that filmed the actors simultaneously. Prior to this, a single camera was used. Second, Lucy’s on-air pregnancy of little Ricky was coordinated with her real-life pregnancy of Desi Arnaz Jr., and her delivery date was coordinated with the date of her expected C-section. The fact that both her on and off-camera children were boys added to the excitement, with more than 71.1 percent of all households tuning in to see the moment when Lucy gave birth.
Lucille Ball went on to create and star in The Lucy Show and star in several hit movies, such as Yours, Mine and Ours and Mame, until her death in 1989. She remains the most popular television comedienne ever and to this day, is still lauded for her progressive attitude towards the genre.
But it is for I Love Lucy that she will always be remembered. So we have compiled a list of the 10 best I Love Lucy episodes of all time. Do you agree? Enter your thoughts in the comments section below, but first, sit back and thank Lucy for the memories.
1. Job Switching
Lucy and Ethel decide to swap lives with Ricky and Fred for one day, so they head out to find jobs while the men stay at home to take care of the house. The only thing the women are qualified for is working in a chocolate factory, packing boxes. Hilarity ensues when the belt that carries the chocolate to them moves faster than they can pack.
2. Lucy Does a Television Commercial
Remember Vitametavegamin? Lucy, always looking to break into show business, was hired to hawk this health drink for a commercial. Problem was, vitametavegamin was 23 percent alcohol, so a drunk Lucy messes up all her lines by saying, “Are you unpoopular? Do you pop out at parties?”
3. L.A. at Last!
The Mertzes and Ricardos head out to California so Ricky can star in his first feature film. They go to the legendary Brown Derby restaurant, where Lucy is caught staring at William Holden. After she spills her food on him, she runs out of the restaurant. Later, Ricky brings home a guest, Bill Holden, and a mortified Lucy wears a fake nose to disguise herself. It later catches on fire when Holden lights her cigarette.
4. Lucy’s Italian Movie
Another road trip, this time to Europe, where Ricky is promised movie stardom. Lucy also wants to be in the movies, so she auditions for an Italian film. She heads out to get some local color by stomping grapes with a real Italian woman. The fight that ensues between the two women is television gold.
5. Lucy Meets Harpo Marx
While in California, Lucy got the chance to meet several big stars. One was Harpo Marx. Her friend Caroline Appleby was arriving from New York and Lucy wanted to impress her. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to see without her glasses, Lucy hid them and dressed like Marx to show off to Caroline. But the real Harpo appeared and the two did a classic pantomime routine where they copied each other’s moves as if they were looking in a mirror.
6. Lucy and the Loving Cup
No real plot with this, other than Lucy places a jockey’s trophy cup on her head and it gets stuck. Then, she gets lost on the subway with Ethel.
7. Lucy is Enceinte
The famous episode where she revealed to Ricky that she was having a baby while he was singing at the club. He then serenades her, in one of the most touching moments on television, with the song, “We’re having a baby.”
8. Ricky has Labor Pains
A show entirely about men feeling neglected while their wives are pregnant. Best part of the show? When Lucy sends Ricky out to satisfy her pregnancy food craving and he comes back with ice cream and sardines. She mixes the two together and Ricky feels ill, until he gets a taste of it himself and tries to eat it all.
9. Lucy Goes to the Hospital
After practicing for the birth of the Ricardo child, all seems to be under control. Fred, Ethel and Ricky have practiced their various parts and have them down pat, until the actual moment when Lucy utters, “It’s time.” Chaos ensues and everyone forgets what they have to do. The most imporant thing, Lucy, is left behind until they return to the apartment and take her to the hospital.
10. Lucy and Superman
Little Ricky has a birthday party and Lucy wants to upstage his friend, Stevie, who will be having a magician and a clown at his party. She asks Ricky to see if Superman can attend, but Ricky finds out that he will be out of town the day of the party. Lucy dresses up as Superman to try and fool the children, but she gets stuck out on a ledge outside the apartment window. Luckily, the real Superman does, indeed, show up and helps Lucy out of her jam, turning the birthday party into a hit.
Photo coutesy of WENN.com