By David Flynn
‘I Love Lucy’ is a classic sitcom, which is still phenomenally popular almost seventy years after it first premiered on US television.
It starred Hollywood redhead comedienne, Lucille Ball, and her Cuban bandleader husband, Desi Arnaz Snr. Lucille had been approached in 1950 to star in a television version of her hit radio series, My Favourite Husband. Lucille’s husband on the radio was played by Richard Denning.
She saw it as a perfect vehicle to keep her and Desi in Hollywood, rather than have them both traipsing to different parts of the US with their various shows.
CBS television wasn’t gone on having Desi play the husband, so the couple prepared a stage show which featured them both, and they did a short tour in early 1951. The show was a huge success, and CBS gave the greenlight for a television show.
Desi and Lucille built a production company, Desilu, which was named after a joining of both their names. Desilu produced I Love Lucy and went on to produce many other hit shows including The Untouchables and Star Trek.
I Love Lucy was about Lucy Ricardo being the ambitious wife of the Cuban bandleader, Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz). While he was playing music shows, Lucy also wanted to work in that industry. She had a friendship with their landlords, the Mertz couple, who lived in a neighbouring apartment. Fred (William Frawley) and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance) had a history in showbusiness, and were a big influence on Lucy.