"" episode
"Ethel's Birthday"
Season 4, Episode #9
#106 in Series
Air date: November 29, 1954
Written by: Bob Carroll Jr.
Madelyn Pugh
Jess Oppenheimer
Directed by: William Asher
Production code: 4-9 / 106
Episode guide
IMDb logo IMDB Ethel's Birthday
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"Lucy's Mother-In-Law" "Ricky's Contract"

Ethel's Birthday was the 106th overall episode of I Love Lucy, also the 9th episode in Season four of the series. The episode, was directed by William Asher, originally aired on CBS-TV on November 29, 1954.


Fred asks Lucy to choose something special for him to give Ethel for her birthday. Ethel opens the gift, then complains that Fred's choice of presents is getting worse every year.

Plot summaryEdit

Fred asks Lucy to help him find a good gift for Ethel's birthday, since Ethel never seems to like his presents. Lucy finds a pair of "chic" hostess pants to wear for holding classy parties, and she thinks they're perfect. When Ethel finds her gift in the closet and opens it early, she can't believe how ridiculously ugly the hostess pants are. She insults who she thinks is Fred's bad taste, and when Lucy reveals that she was the one to pick out the pants, a fight begins. The Ricardos are supposed to be taking the Mertzes to a showing of Over the Teacups for Ethel's birthday present, but now, neither woman wants to go. Ricky and Fred convince Lucy and Ethel to go to the theater, pretending the other won't be there.

When Lucy and Ethel run into each other, fireworks begin. They childishly argue and fight over the armrest. To stop their bickering, Fred and Ricky force them to switch seats and not sit next to each other. Once they've been separated, everyone can pay attention to the play. The plot has lead character Cynthia find out from John that an old friend of hers has unexpectedly died from some tragic accident. Cynthia starts sobbing, because she and the deceased friend hadn't spoken for years, all over some silly little quarrel. Cynthia begs the audience to not say you're "sorry" because of pride, and she desperately wishes she could have made up with her friend before her death. Lucy and Ethel think of their own current feud, and they hug and reconcile through sobs. They finish watching the play, arm in arm, each happy to be beside their best friend.


  • Ethel really did want a toaster for her birthday. It's understandable that Lucy would want to help Fred get something Ethel would like/want, but Fred SAID that she wanted a toaster. It wasn't like Fred cluelessly said, "A toaster would be a good gift!" Lucy should either have tried to find out something more exciting Ethel really wanted or she should have just helped Fred find the best toaster on the market.
  • While the hostess pants are pretty garish and ugly, they're not quite as hideous as the flower dress from episode #69. Ethel wore THAT without complaints, she could have worn those hostess pants!
  • The DVD of this episode has the option for you to listen to the full dialogue between John and Cynthia from Over the Teacups. Most of the beginning dialogue isn't audible in the episode, due to Ethel and Lucy's bickering.
  • In the play, Marie Van Schleck is the name of Cynthia's "friend" whose death reunites Lucy and Ethel.
  • Ethel forbids Fred from revealing her real age, but Fred clues us in to an estimate of Ethel's age, using the anniversaries of Speedy Cleaners and Goldblatt's Delicattesen. She is somewhere between 40 and 50 years old, around the same age Vivian Vance was in real life. So, Ethel is at least 7 years older than Lucy.
  • Neither Ethel nor Lucy could figure out what Fred's birthday gift to Ethel was the previous year. All they knew was that the item was 'too long to be a stole, and too short to be a volleyball net."
  • Ricky's box of chocolates "emergency gift" had cards to use for the following forgotten occasions: wife's birthday, wedding anniversary, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas, and one for forgiveness after a fight that said, "I'm sorry, dear. Can't we please be friends again?"
  • Ethel owns a gold lame jacket, but it tarnished and turned green.
  • Fred always hides presents in the hall/coat closet.


Guest starringEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.