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I Love Lucy
I Love Lucy title.svg
Logo from the syndicated edition
Genre Sitcom
Based on My Favorite Husband
Theme music composer
  • Eliot Daniel (music)
  • Harold Adamson (lyrics)
  • Eliot Daniel
  • Wilbur Hatch
  • Marco Rizo
Country of origin United States
Original language(s)
  • English
  • Spanish
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 180 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Desi Arnaz
Producer(s) Jess Oppenheimer
Production location(s) Desilu Studios, Los Angeles
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 23–26 minutes
Production company(s) Desilu Productions
Original network CBS
Original release October 15, 1951 (1951-10-15) – May 6, 1957 (1957-05-06)
Related shows
  • The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour

I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom that originally aired on CBS from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, with a total of 180 half-hour episodes, spanning six seasons. The show starred Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, along with Vivian Vance and William Frawley. The series follows the life of Lucy Ricardo (Ball), a young, middle-class housewife living in New York City, who often concocts plans with her best friends and landlords, Ethel and Fred Mertz (Vance and Frawley), to appear alongside her bandleader husband, Ricky Ricardo (Arnaz), in his nightclub. Lucy is depicted trying numerous schemes to mingle with and be a part of show business. After the series ended in 1957, a modified version of the show continued for three more seasons, with 13 one-hour specials, which ran from 1957 to 1960. It was first known as The Lucille Ball–Desi Arnaz Show, and later, in reruns, as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour.

I Love Lucy became the most-watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons and it was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings. As of 2011, episodes of the show have been syndicated in dozens of languages across the world and remain popular with an American audience of 40 million each year. A colorized version of its Christmas episode attracted more than eight million viewers when CBS aired it in prime time in 2013, 62 years after the show premiered.

The show – which was the first scripted television program to be filmed on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, by cinematographer Karl Freund – won five Emmy Awards and received many nominations and honors. It was the first show to feature an ensemble cast. As such, it is often regarded as both one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms in history. In 2012, it was voted the 'Best TV Show of All Time' in a survey conducted by ABC News and People magazine. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it #12 on their list of the 101 Best Written TV Series.


Originally set in an apartment building in New York City, I Love Lucy centers on Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) and her singer/bandleader husband, Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), along with their best friends and landlords, Fred Mertz (William Frawley) and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance). During the second season, Lucy and Ricky have a son named Ricky Ricardo Jr., who often goes by "Little Ricky" and is portrayed by multiple actors throughout the seasons. His birth was timed to coincide with the real-life birth of Ball's son, Desi Arnaz Jr.

Lucy is naïve and ambitious, with a zealotry for stardom and a knack for getting both herself and her husband into trouble whenever she yearns to make it big in show business. The Ricardos' best friends, Fred and Ethel, are former vaudevillians. The Mertz's history in entertainment only strengthens Lucy's resolve to prove herself as a performer, though she often feels excluded, as her industry involvement is limited, relative to that of Ricky, Fred, and Ethel. Though charismatic, throughout the series, she is depicted as having few marketable performance skills, and she is often portrayed as being tone deaf, struggling to sing anything other than off-key renditions of songs such as "Glow Worm" on the saxophone, and many of her performances end in disaster. However, to say she is completely without talent would be untrue, as on occasion, she is shown to be a good dancer and a competent singer. She is also at least twice offered contracts by television or film companies—first in the season 1 episode "The Audition", when she replaces an injured clown in Ricky's act at the Tropicana nightclub, and later in the season 5 episode "Lucy and the Dummy", when she dances in Hollywood for a studio party using a rubber Ricky dummy as her dancing partner.

Little information was offered about Lucy's past. A few episodes mentioned that she was born in Jamestown, New York (Ball's real-life home town), later specified to be West Jamestown, that she graduated from Jamestown High School, that her maiden name was "McGillicuddy" (indicating a Scottish or Irish ethnicity, at least on her father's side, though she once mentioned her grandmother was Swedish), and that she met Ricky on a cruise with her friend from an agency she once worked for. Her family was absent, other than occasional appearances by her scatter-brained mother Mrs. McGillicuddy (Kathryn Card), who could never get Ricky's name right. Lucy was also secretive about her age and true hair color, and tended to be careless with money, in addition to being somewhat materialistic, insisting on buying new dresses and hats for every occasion and telling old friends that she and Ricky were wealthy. She was also depicted as a devoted housewife, adept cook, and attentive mother. As part of Lucy's role was to care for her husband, she stayed at home and took care of the household chores, while her husband Ricky went to work. During the post war era, Lucy took jobs outside of the home, but in these jobs, the show portrayed her as being inept outside of her usual domestic duties.

I love lucy 1956
Lucy and Ricky climb in the Alps during their 1956 trip to Europe.

Lucy's husband, Ricky Ricardo, is an up-and-coming Cuban American singer and bandleader with an excitable personality. His patience is frequently tested by his wife's antics trying to get into showbiz, along with her exorbitant spending on clothes and furniture. When exasperated, he often reverts to speaking rapidly in Spanish. As with Lucy, not much is revealed about his past or family. Ricky's mother (played by actress Mary Emery) appears in two episodes; in another, Lucy mentions that he has five brothers. Ricky also mentions that he had been "practically raised" by his Uncle Alberto (who was seen during a family visit to Cuba), and that he had attended the University of Havana.

An extended flashback segment in the 1957 episode "Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana" of The Lucille Ball–Desi Arnaz Show filled in numerous details of how Lucy and Ricky met and how Ricky came to the United States. The story, at least insofar as related to newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper, is that the couple met in Havana when Lucy and the Mertzes vacationed there in 1940. Despite his being a university graduate and proficient in English, Ricky is portrayed as a driver of a horse-drawn cab who waits for fares at a pier where tourists arrive by ship. Ricky is hired to serve as one of Lucy's tour guides, and the two fall in love. Having coincidentally also met popular singer, Rudy Vallée, on the cruise ship, Lucy arranges an audition for Ricky, who is hired to be in Vallée's orchestra, thus allowing him to emigrate to the United States on the very ship on which Lucy and the Mertzes were returning. Lucy later states that Ricky played for Vallée only one night before being traded to Xavier Cugat's orchestra.

The extended flashback segment "Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana" and the story of how Lucy and Ricky met is inconsistent with the season 4 episode "Don Juan and the Starlets". At one point in that episode, Lucy, after finding out that she was not invited to join Ricky at a movie premiere, bemoans that she made a mistake fifteen years before when her friend Marion Strong asked her if she would like to go on a blind date with a Cuban drummer, to which she said "yes."

Throughout the series, Lucy is usually found with her best friend, Ethel. A former model from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ethel tries to relive her glory days in vaudeville. Ricky is more inclined to include Ethel in performances at his nightclub because, unlike Lucy, she can sing and dance rather well.

The show mentions that Ethel's husband, Fred, served in World War I, and lived through the Great Depression. As such, in the series, Fred is depicted as being very stingy with money and as being an irascible, no-nonsense type. However, he also reveals that he can be a soft touch, especially when it comes to Little Ricky, to whom Fred is both godfather and honorary "uncle." Fred can also sing and dance, and he often performs duets with Ethel.

The Manhattan building they all lived in before their move to Westport, Connecticut during the sixth season, was addressed at a fictional 623 East 68th Street, at first in apartment 4A, then moving to the larger apartment 3B (subsequently re-designated 3D; the Mertzes’ apartment is then numbered 3B), on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In actuality, however, the addresses go up only to the 500s before the street terminates at the East River.


I Love Lucy Cast
Cast members from left, standing: William Frawley, Desi Arnaz, seated: Vivian Vance and Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball I love Lucy Little Ricky actors 1955
Mike (left) and Joe Mayer played Little Ricky as a toddler.
  • Lucille Ball as Lucille Esmeralda "Lucy" McGillicuddy Ricardo
  • Desi Arnaz as Enrique Alberto Fernando y de Acha "Ricky" Ricardo III
  • Vivian Vance as Ethel Mae Potter Mertz (alternately "Ethel Louise" and "Ethel Roberta")
  • William Frawley as Frederick "Fred" Eedee Hobart Mertz
  • Richard Keith as Enrique Alberto Fernando y de Acha Ricardo IV ("Ricky Ricardo Jr.")
  • Twins Mike Mayer and Joe Mayer played "Little Ricky" as a toddler
  • Kathryn Card as Lucy's mother Mrs. McGillicuddy (also Minnie Finch in the earlier episode "Fan Magazine Interview")
  • Mary Jane Croft as Betty Ramsey and various characters
  • Frank Nelson as Freddie Fillmore and various characters
  • Jerry Hausner as Ricky's agent Jerry (also Joe in "Lucy Does a TV Commercial")
  • Doris Singleton as Carolyn Appleby (she was originally named Lillian; but after Singleton's first appearance in "The Club Election", her name was changed to Carolyn)
  • Shirley Mitchell as Marion Strong, a role originated by Margie Liszt
  • Elizabeth Patterson as Mrs. Matilda Trumbull (also Mrs. Willoughby in the earlier episode "The Marriage License")
  • Bob Jellison as Bobby the Bellboy in the Hollywood episodes (also Milkman in the earlier episode "The Gossip")
  • Ross Elliott as Ricky's Publicity Man in the Hollywood episodes (also The Director in the earlier episode "Lucy Does a TV Commercial")

Many of the characters in the series were named after Ball's family members or close friends. For example, Marion Strong was one of her best friends and a roommate for a time in New York, and she also set Ball and Arnaz up on their first date. Lillian Appleby was a teacher of Ball's when she was in an amateur production on the stage. Additionally, Pauline Lopus was a childhood friend, while Fred was the name of both her brother and grandfather. Ball and Arnaz had a business manager by the name of Mr. Andrew Hickox, and in the first episode of season 4, called "The Business Manager" Ricky hires a man named Mr. Hickox.

Primary production team

  • Directors: Marc Daniels (33 episodes, 1951–53); William Asher (101 episodes, 1952–57); James V. Kern (39 episodes, 1955–57)
  • Producers: Jess Oppenheimer (153 episodes, 1951–56); Desi Arnaz (exec. producer—124 episodes, 1952–56; producer—26 episodes, 1956–57)
  • Writers: Jess Oppenheimer (head writer, seasons 1–5), Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll Jr. (All Seasons including Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour), Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf (Seasons 5–6 and Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour)
  • Original Music: Wilbur Hatch (33 episodes, 1951–54); Eliot Daniel (135 episodes, 1952–57); Marco Rizo (1951–1957)
  • Cinematography: Karl Freund (149 episodes, 1951–56)
  • Costume design: Elois Jenssen (57 episodes, 1953–55), Edward Stevenson (66 episodes, 1955–60)
  • Editors: Dann Cahn, Bud Molin


List of I Love Lucy episodes

Broadcast history

I Love Lucy aired Mondays from 9:00 to 9:30 PM ET on CBS for its entire first run. Each year during its summer hiatus its timeslot was occupied by various summer replacement series. Beginning in April 1955 CBS added reruns from the show's early years to its early evening weekend schedule. This would be the first of several occasions when I Love Lucy reruns would become part of CBS's evening, prime time, and (later on) daytime schedules.

In fall 1967, CBS began offering the series in off-network syndication; As of August 2017, the reruns air on the Hallmark Channel and MeTV networks, and scores of television stations in the U.S. and around the world, including Fox's KTTV/KCOP in Los Angeles until December 31, 2018. It is currently on Paramount+.

In addition, CBS has run numerous specials, including a succession of annual specials which feature episodes which have been newly colorized.

On February 14, 2023, Pluto TV launched a 24-hour I Love Lucy channel in the United States.

Nielsen ratings

The episode "Lucy Goes to the Hospital", which first aired on Monday, January 19, 1953, garnered a then-record rating of 71.7, meaning that 71.7% of all households with television sets were tuned to the program, the equivalent of some 44 million viewers. That record is surpassed only by Elvis Presley's first of three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, which aired on September 9, 1956 (82.6% share, 60.710 million viewers and a 57.1 rating ). The overall rating of 67.3 for the entire 1952 season of I Love Lucy continues to be the highest average rating for any single season of a TV show.

Primetime Emmy Awards and nominations

  • Best Comedy Show—Nominated (Winner: The Red Skelton Hour)
  • Best Situation Comedy—Won
  • Best Comedienne: Lucille Ball—Won
  • Best Female Star of a Regular Series: Lucille Ball—Nominated (Winner: Eve Arden for Our Miss Brooks)
  • Best Series Supporting Actor: William Frawley—Nominated (Winner: Art Carney for The Jackie Gleason Show)
  • Best Series Supporting Actress: Vivian Vance—Won
  • Best Situation Comedy—Won
  • Best Actress Starring in a Regular Series: Lucille Ball—Nominated (Winner: Loretta Young for The Loretta Young Show)
  • Best Situation Comedy Series—Nominated (Winner: The Danny Thomas Show)
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Regular Series: William Frawley—Nominated (Winner: Art Carney for The Jackie Gleason Show)
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Regular Series: Vivian Vance—Nominated (Winner: Audrey Meadows for The Jackie Gleason Show)
  • Best Written Comedy Material: Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis—Nominated (Winners: James B. Allardice, Jack Douglas, Hal Kanter and Harry Winkler for The George Gobel Show)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: William Frawley—Nominated (Winner: Art Carney for The Honeymooners)
  • Best Actress—Continuing Performance: Lucille Ball—Won
  • Best Comedy Writing: Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Davis, Bob Carroll Jr., Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf for "L.A. at Last"—Nominated (Winners: Nat Hiken, Barry E. Blitzer, Arnold M. Auerbach, Harvey Orkin, Vin Bogert, Arnie Rosen, Coleman Jacoby, Tony Webster and Terry Ryan for The Phil Silvers Show: "You'll Never Get Rich")
  • Best Continuing Performance by a Comedienne in a Series: Lucille Ball—Nominated (Winner: Nanette Fabray for Caesar's Hour)
  • Best Supporting Performance by an Actor: William Frawley—Nominated (Winner: Carl Reiner for Caesar's Hour)
  • Best Supporting Performance by an Actress: Vivian Vance—Nominated (Winner: Pat Carroll for Caesar's Hour)
  • Best Continuing Performance (Female) in a Series by a Comedienne, Singer, Hostess, Dancer, M.C., Announcer, Narrator, Panelist, or any Person who Essentially Plays Herself: Lucille Ball—Nominated (Winner: Dinah Shore for The Dinah Shore Show)
  • Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic or Comedy Series: William Frawley—Nominated (Winner: Carl Reiner for Caesar's Hour)
  • Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actress in a Dramatic or Comedy Series: Vivian Vance—Nominated (Winner: Ann B. Davis for The Bob Cummings Show)

Legacy, critical acclaim and other honors

In 1989, the never-seen pilot episode was discovered and revealed in a CBS television special, hosted by Lucie Arnaz, becoming the highest rated program of the season.

In 2012, Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club wrote retrospectively:

I Love Lucy […] is one of the two foundational texts of American TV comedy, along with The Honeymooners. The series is legitimately the most influential in TV history, pioneering so many innovations and normalizing so many others that it would be easy to write an appreciation of simply, say, the show’s accidental invention of the TV rerun.

I Love Lucy continues to be held in high esteem by television critics, and remains perennially popular. It was one of the first American programs seen on British television — which became more open to commerce with the September 1955 launch of ITV, a commercial network that aired the series; in 1982, the launch of a second terrestrial TV station devoted to advertising funded broadcasting (Channel 4) saw the show introduced to a new generation of fans in the UK, with the Channel 4 network repeating the program several times between 1983 and 1994. As of January 2015, meanwhile, it remains the longest-running program to air continuously in the Los Angeles area, almost 60 years after production ended. However, the series is currently aired on KTTV on weekends and now KCOP on weekdays because both stations are a duopoly. KTTV was the original CBS affiliated station in Los Angeles until 1951, just before I Love Lucy premiered on KNXT Channel 2 (now KCBS-TV) when CBS bought that station the same year. In the US, reruns have aired nationally on TBS (1980s–1990s), Nick at Nite (1994–2001) and TV Land (2001–2008) in addition to local channels. TV Land ended its run of the series by giving viewers the opportunity to vote on the show's top 25 greatest episodes on December 31, 2008, through the network's website. Unlike some shows to which a cable channel is given exclusive rights to maximize ratings, I Love Lucy has been consistently broadcast on multiple channels simultaneously. Hallmark Channel is now the home for I Love Lucy in the United States, with the show having moved to the network on January 2, 2009, while the national version of Weigel Broadcasting's MeTV digital subchannel network has carried the program since its debut on December 15, 2010, depending on the market (in markets where another station holds the rights, The Lucy Show is substituted). The show is seen on Fox Classics in Australia.

In addition to Primetime Emmy Awards and nominations, I Love Lucy's many honors include the following:

  • The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, New York is a museum memorializing Lucy and I Love Lucy, including replicas of the NYC apartment set (located in the Desilu Playhouse facility in the Rapaport Center).
  • In 1990, I Love Lucy became the first television show to be inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
  • In 1997, the episodes "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" and "Lucy's Italian Movie" were respectively ranked No. 2 and No. 18 on TV Guide's list of the 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.
  • In 1999, Entertainment Weekly ranked the birth of Little Ricky as the fifth greatest moment in television history.
  • In 2002, TV Guide ranked I Love Lucy No. 2 on its list of the 50 greatest shows, behind Seinfeld and ahead of The Honeymooners
  • In 2007, Time magazine placed the show on its unranked list of the 100 best television shows.
  • In 2012, I Love Lucy was ranked the Best TV Comedy and the Best TV Show in Best in TV: The Greatest TV Shows of Our Time.
  • In 2013, TV Guide ranked I Love Lucy as the third greatest show of all time.
  • In 2015, a survey of 2,800 actors, producers, directors, and other industry people conducted by The Hollywood Reporter named I Love Lucy as their #8 favorite show.
  • In 2023, Variety chose I Love Lucy as the greatest TV show of all time.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Yo amo a Lucy para niños

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