On this day, October 15, 1951 “I Love Lucy” premiered on CBS at 9pm.
The series, which ran from October 15, 1951 to May 6, 1957, starred Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. It ran for six seasons, in which it was the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and has become one of the most beloved and watched sitcoms in television history. After the series concluded in 1957, the show continued from 1957-1960 under the title, “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.”
The series depicted the lives of the Ricardos, Lucy and Ricky, and their best friends and neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz (landlords of the building the Ricardos and Mertzes lived in). Many times during the series’ run Lucy will often try to make it into show business, being bored with her life as a housewife, by trying to be part of her husband’s act, often failing miserably. She would often drag her best friend Ethel into the mix of things, resulting in unfortunate, yet humorous results. One of the constant themes that played out during the series’ run is the culture class between Lucy and her husband Ricardo, a Cuban-American, which Lucy would use to her advantage when mocking her husband in a playful manner, only to get on his nerves.
Ricky Ricardo is depicted as an up-and-coming singer and bandleader, from Cuban descent, whose patience is often tested by Lucy’s antics “to be part of the show.” When angered, he begins to yell in Spanish.
Lucy’s best friend, Ethel Mertz, is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a former model (as revealed in an episode in which the Ricardos and Mertzes visit Ethel’s hometown). Unlike Lucy, Ethel can actually sing and dance, but like Lucy, she is often inclined to be part of the Lucy’s antics in order to have the spotlight shine on her (e.g. in one episode in which the group travels to Europe, Ethel is offered a part in a movie as an American tourist that Lucy lost following the infamous grape stomping scene in Italy).
Ethel’s husband Fred is depicted as being extremely stingy with his money, and often labeled as a grouch. He is shown to have a soft heart at times, particularly when it comes to Little Ricky and allowing Little Ricky to keep his pet dog (ironically named Fred). Like Ethel, he can also sing and dance, and would perform duets with Ethel, and tends to be Ricky’s best friend.
During its time the show won multiple awards, including five Emmys awards, as well as constantly ranking as one of the greatest television shows of all time. “I Love Lucy” is still in syndication, and is watched by over 40 million viewers each year in the United States.
Clip of the chocolate factory scene: