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Trivia / I Love Lucy

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  • Banned Episode: For a period of time in the 1960s, networks stopped airing the final season episode "The Ricardos Visit Cuba", due to the then-strained relationship between the U.S. and Cuban governments.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • Though Ricky entered at least one scene with "Lucy, I'm home!", it wasn't in the memetically-ovserblown "LU-CYYYY, I'M HO-OOOME!" manner people are fond of affecting when doing an imitation of him.
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    • " got some splanin' to do!" was created by parodies long after the end of the show, although Ricky does say "splain" in several episodes (eg, "Lucy! Splain!" from "Charm School").
  • California Doubling: The show is set in the Big Applesauce, but it was filmed in Hollywood. However, almost everything on the show takes place on a soundstage before a Studio Audience, including exteriors (noticeable with wrinkled, canvas flats for scenery), so it's easily overlooked and forgiven.
  • The Cast Show Off: All of them to some extent, as Desi Arnaz's singing and his band featured heavily as the Tropicana/Club Babalu house band, while Vivian Vance and William Frawley's extensive backgrounds in vaudeville played into The Mertz sharing a similar history. Lucille Ball, aside from the obvious showcases of her impressions and physical comedy chops, often got to show off her honed talents as a dancer, having had a long history as former showgirl.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • In later years, Lucille Ball admitted that she wasn't especially fond of the series' early episodes, feeling they were too silly. She felt the show improved with each passing year.
    • Vivian Vance greatly disliked the Ethel Mertz character, who was the antithesis of what she aspired to be in real life. Though she appreciated that Desi Arnaz thought her a talented enough actress to bring Ethel to life, Vance later said that Ethel was made up of bits and pieces of many women she'd known, but none of whom she admired.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: Though not her favorite overall episodes, the putty nose gag from "L.A. At Last" was Lucille Ball's favorite comedy routine to perform, while she felt the Vitametavegamin bit from "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" was her best routine. Likewise her favorite moment from the show, on pure emotion was Lucy revealing her pregnancy to Ricky, mainly for the fact that both she and Desi got so caught up in the moment, that the feelings from Lucille Ball's real life pregnancy came rushing back to the both of them, that the happy tears the two of them shared in the scene were genuine.
  • The Danza: Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo. She did the exact same thing in her two later shows, despite being different characters. She also always gave her character a last name containing "ar" as a tribute to Desi Arnaz: Ricardo (I Love Lucy), Carmichael (The Lucy Show), Carter (Here's Lucy), and Barker (Life With Lucy).
    • According to Lucy herself, though, she did the "ar" combo on the advice of Carole Lombard, who said the double 'ar' combination in her own name brought good luck. Lucy kept up the tradition after Lombard died as a tribute to her.
    • Vivian Vance (who played Ethel) grew tired of fans calling her by that name on the street. When she appeared on Ball's subsequent shows, she stipulated that her character be named Vivian (usually called Viv).
    • Cousin Ernie, played by Tennessee Ernie Ford.
    • Richard Keith as Little Ricky (this was an Enforced Trope, as Richard Keith was deliberately chosen for Keith Thibodeaux's stage name so that he could always be referred to as "Little Ricky").
  • Funny Character, Boring Actor:
    • While Lucille Ball is known as one of the funniest women on television, she actually didn't think she was that good at improvisation, and would often rehearse a scene endlessly until she thought she had it just right.
    • Contrasted with Desi, who was not a professional comedian but was naturally funny and had a knack for improvisation.
  • Hostility on the Set:
    • Vivian Vance and William Frawley, who played Ethel and Fred Mertz. The contempt grew to such extremes that Vance would often memorize her scripts just to see how much screen time she had with Frawley. Despite the hostilities, both were said to be professionals on the set and were noted for their amazing chemistry with each other on screen, to the point that when it first came out, fans of the show could not believe it. However, part of why they worked on screen together was in part because the pair played an embodiment of Like an Old Married Couple. (If rumors are true, when Vance was informed of Frawley's death while dining at a restaurant, she ordered a round of drinks for everyone. Damn.)
    • There was also friction between Vivian Vance and Lucille Ball early in the show's run, as Desi Arnaz and Marc Daniels cast Vance without consulting Ball. Ball was expecting someone far less glamorous and pretty to play the role of "dumpy landlady" Ethel, and gave Vance a hard time early on. Ultimately, Vance's talent as an actress and a "script doctor" won Ball over, and her loyalty became so fierce that she insisted Vance join her on The Lucy Show in 1962, and the two remained lifelong friends.
    • Likewise as the marriage between the two deteriorated, so did the working relationship betweeen Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. By the final episodes the two wouldn't even speak to one another, having the producers do so for each other. According to Lucille Ball however, their personal relationships did improve some time after the show ended, as coparents and friends, and Desi would always send her favorite flowers to her during major events in her life.
  • Laugh Track: The show didn't have one – it was famously filmed in front of a live audience. However, the laughter you hear here would be used as the basis for canned laughter in sitcoms for decades to come.
    • Logistics prevented studio audiences from attending several filmings, including "Ricky Minds the Baby" (the producers feared an audience would startle the infant actors playing Little Ricky), "Home Movies" (due to the technical issues of filming and editing all the home movie footage), and "Desert Island" (due to the number of sets). These episodes were subsequently screened for audiences, and their laughter recorded to the audio track.
  • Missing Episode: The Christmas episode was not included in syndication packages in order to prevent the episode from airing out of season, and also because of a supposed lack of interest in Clip Shows. From 1990-1994, CBS had a yearly tradition of airing the episode in color as a special, which they revived in 2013 with improved colorization.
    • The Pilot was not intended for public broadcast, but it might also qualify. After CBS approved the show, Lucy and Desi gave a kinescope of the pilot to their friend Pepito Perez, who guest-starred. Since no one saw it afterward except for Pepito, his wife and their friends, archivists spent decades assuming it had been lost to time. Pepito's widow finally brought it out of hiding in 1990. It took over 20 more years for CBS to find the original 35mm negative for the pilot.
  • Real-Life Relative: As mentioned, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz really were married for the entire length of the series, though their marriage was failing towards the end and they ultimately divorced in 1960. Had the marriage continued, the show would've as well.
  • Red Scare: Lucille Ball almost fell victim to it in real life – she was known to despise Vice President Richard Nixon, and, after someone dug up an old registration to the Communist party done one year to appease her radical grandfather, had given a private testimony to the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) the day "The Girls Go Into Business" was filmed. She was cleared, and was one of the lucky ones to not get put onto the Hollywood Blacklist.
    • When he learned HUAC was after Lucy, Desi went in front of the studio audience before one episode began taping and gave a defiant defense of Lucy, insisting that, "the only thing red about Lucy is her hair… and even that's not legitimate!"
    • Oddly enough, after their divorce, Desi spent a great deal of time in Cuba – apparently with Fidel Castro's blessing, and in direct violation of the embargo. It's worth noting that Desi came from the comparatively small wave of pre-1959 Cuban expats who fled rightwing dictator Fulgencio Batista (rather than the far larger wave that fled the communists); thus, he had no particular animosity toward Fidel.
  • Rerun: As mentioned, the show's creators invented this trope.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Marion Strong was first portrayed by Margie Liszt in the season 2 episode "The Club Election." Shirley Mitchell took over the role for three episodes the following season, most notably "Lucy Tells the Truth."
    • Charlie Appleby, Caroline's husband, was first played by Hy Averback in season 3's "Baby Pictures," then by George O'Hanlon for season 6's "Lucy & Superman."
    • Grace Munson was initially played by Hazel Pierce in "The Club Election," then by Ruth Brady in the final season.
  • Throw It In!: The 1952 episode "Cuban Pals" features Ricky attempting to translate Lucy's questions for his Cuban friends. Desi Arnaz mistakenly translates one question in English, resulting in him doubling over in laughter.
    • Another is the scene in Hollywood when Lucy's putty nose catches on fire and she dunks it in her coffee cup to extinguish it. The script had called for her to remove the nose and dunk it; her leaving it on and lowering her face into the coffee was an ad-lib. It's notable because Lucille Ball was a very strict perfectionist who rehearsed scenes tirelessly, and that was one of the few times where a Throw It In! moment wasn't thrown out.
      • It probably didn't hurt that, reportedly, Lucy was very concerned about the safety of a lit wick so close to her face, and figured she better not push her luck with a second take.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Some unintentional examples really really scream "The '50s":
    • The candy factory showing Lucy and Ethel working, handling food, without gloves. That would not happen today.note 
    • Telephones. Notice how every telephone in the series looks the same? That's because the show was made back when AT&T required you to use their phones, which came in two styles, both black. It took no less than the Supreme Court to step in and say third-party phones were legal.
      • Also the phone numbers. "Circle-7" and "Murray Hill-5" make absolutely no sense to modern audiences. The latter of course is still occasionally used instead of 555 as a Shout-Out to this show.
    • Almost any mention of money. Occasionally a joke simply doesn't work anymore thanks to inflation completely ruining the frame of reference. It's hard to understand Ricky getting angry at Lucy for spending so much money on something since, at this point, everything on the show sounds incredibly cheap.
      • Inverted for the episodes set in Paris. When the show was made, France was still using the old Franc, the value of which had utterly collapsed thanks to two world wars – the going exchange rate at the time was 350 francs to the dollar and would soon rise. France switched it out for the New Franc in 1960, which had much saner exchange rates (around 7F=1USD at the time they adopted the Euro).
      • Of course the episodes set in the UK make reference to Old British Money, which wasn't "old" then; Sterling would be decimalized in 1971, fifteen years after the episodes aired.
    • One particular sequence – where Lucy gets stuck at the border between France and Italy and can't cross to join everyone else – makes no sense in post-Schengen Europe.
    • When preparing to drive to Hollywood, Fred buys a 1923 Cadillac, which Lucy and Ethel treat as The Alleged Car (and to be fair, it isn't in the best condition). Today that car, even in the less-than-ideal shape it was in in that episode, would be worth a lot.
    • As mentioned above, the episodes where the cast visit Cuba seem absolutely bizarre in an era where Americans have been banned from travelling to the island for over half a century and counting. The regular series ended two years before Castro and the communists took over (even if the Comedy Hours are included, the series wrapped a year before the embargo happened). The plot Comedy Hour, broadcast on April 1, 1960, revolves around Ricky possibly returning to Cuba to run a family tobacco plantation.
    • The whole idea of Ricky "wanting a wife who's just a wife". Sure, Lucy (the character) doesn't have any actual *talent* but if the show were written today either Lucy would be needed to run the business side of Club Babalu or have an outside job so the family can have health insurance.
    • Ricky speaks to Little Ricky in his broken, heavily-accented English. In the 1950s it was thought babies' language development would be "confused" by early exposure to multiple languages; that's now known not to be the case, they can pick up two languages as easily as one and current parenting advice would have Ricky speaking with his kid in Spanish.
    • Ricky's remarks about Lucy's attempt at a show while inside the TV during "Lucy Does a TV Commercial", mainly about how clear the picture is and the fact that it's in 3D when she accidentally drops the carton of cigarettes outside the TV. While televisions that touted 3D capabilities proved to be a bit of a fad in the early 2010's, televisions are now capable of producing VERY high definition images.
    • In one episode, Lucy says there are 46 states before being corrected by Ethel that there are 48.note  - Nope, ever since 1959 there have been 50 states. This is brought up again in a Comedy Hour plot with the group heading to the newly-added Alaska to look for oil.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Desi Arnaz demanded that the second act of the episode "Lucy Tells The Truth" be rewritten. The plot involves Ricky, Fred and Ethel betting Lucy that she could not tell the truth for 24 hours. The original second act involved an IRS agent coming to the apartment to audit Ricky, and Lucy being forced to tell him about Ricky cheating on his taxes. Desi balked at the idea of Ricky cheating on his taxes, and a new second act was written.
    • "Lucy Goes to Scotland" would have aired in full color, if not for CBS's inability to afford color film. The episode was later colorized in 2007, as a bonus feature for a complete series DVD set of I Love Lucy and the Lucy Desi Comedy Hour.
    • After the Hollywood Arc was over, Desi suggested a Spin-Off taking place in their Hollywood hotel with Bobby the Bellboy as the main character as he deals with guests (he'd be given a female costar to play his girlfriend and get him involved in hijinx a la Lucy), but nothing came of it. With this in mind, the episodes featuring Bobby could be considered a Poorly Disguised Pilot.
    • Toward the end of the run, Desi Arnaz asked William Frawley and Vivian Vance if they would like their own Spin-Off show after I Love Lucy's cancellation. Frawley readily agreed, sensing a very financially lucrative opportunity. Vance declined, however, in large part because of the hatred she and Frawley had for each other both on and off the set.
    • Lucille Ball originally wanted the roles of Fred and Ethel to be played by longtime friends and comic foils Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet. However, Gordon's salary demands were too high for the first season's limited budget (most reports erroneously claim he was unavailable because of his commitment to Our Miss Brooks), while Benaderet was already committed to play Nosy Neighbor Blanche Morton on The Burns and Allen Show (Gordon would later act as Lucy's foil on The Lucy Show). Another longtime friend of Ball's, Barbara Pepper, who later went on to play Doris Ziffel on Green Acres, was also considered to play Ethel. Unfortunately, Pepper had at that time been drinking very heavily after her husband, Craig Reynolds, passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident. After Frawley, whose fondness for the bottle was legendary, was cast as Fred, Desi Arnaz felt he couldn't take the chance of having the responsibility of keeping two people in line.
    • Despite Vivian Vance and Bill Frawley's intense dislike of one another, there were plans at one point for a spinoff series revolving around Fred and Ethel. Frawley was reportedly willing to give it a try, but Vance flatly refused to work with Frawley any more than she had already agreed to. Given that this quite surely would have been a big payday and time in the limelight for both, it had to have contributed to their already immense behind-the-camera animosity.
  • The Wiki Rule: The I Love Lucy Wiki, Ultimate I Love Lucy Wiki, and Lucille Ball Wiki.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Elizabeth Patterson first played Mother Willoughby in "The Marriage License," then returned during the second season to play babysitter Mrs. Trumbull.
    • Charles Lane also had multiple appearances, usually as a different clerk at a government office or business each time. He played an excellent hard-nosed bureaucrat, and appeared in "Lucy Goes to the Hospital" as an expectant father.
    • Mary Jane Croft played Cynthia Harcourt in "Lucy Is Envious" and Evelyn Bigsby in "Return Home from Europe" before becoming a semi-regular as Connecticut neighbor Betty Ramsey in season 6.
    • Frank Nelson played eight different characters, including radio host Freddy Filmore and Connecticut neighbor Ralph Ramsey. He was the "Yyyyyyyyyessssss?" guy.
    • Ball's close friend Barbara Pepper appeared in eight episodes, each time as a different character.
    • Bobby Jellison, who played the Ricardo's milkman in one New York episode, returned to play Bobby the Bellboy in the Hollywood episodes.
    • Lucy fails to notice that the man she hired to teach the foursome proper English looks exactly like the guy she sold her furniture to a few months earlier.
    • Character Actor Jay Novello played a superstitious boss of Ricky, a timid man who witnessed a murder and is subleasing the Ricardo's apartment, and Mario, a gondolier driver the foursome meet in Italy.



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