"I Love Lucy" opening title screen.
|Developed for TV by:||Jess Oppenheimer|
|Created by:||Jess Oppenheimer|
|Based upon:||1940's Radio series "My Favorite Husband"|
|The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour|
|Related shows:||The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour|
The Lucy Show
|Executive Producer(s):||Jess Oppenheimer (153 episodes, 1951–56); Desi Arnaz (exec. producer—124 episodes, 1952–56; producer—26 episodes, 1956–57)|
|Theme music:||Eliot Daniel|
|Opening theme music:||"I Love Lucy", composed byEliot Daniel|
|End theme:||Same as opening theme|
|Production company:||Desilu Productions|
|Distribution and Broadcast Information|
|Distributed by:||CBS Television Distribution|
|First aired:||October 15, 1951|
|Last aired:||May 6, 1957|
|No. of episodes:||180 episodes|
|Current status:||Ended, Spun off into The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour series|
|Series runtime:||22-24 minutes|
I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). After the series ended in 1957, however, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials, running from 1957 to 1960, known first as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.
I Love Lucy was the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings (an accomplishment later matched by The Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld). I Love Lucy is still syndicated in dozens of languages across the world.
The show was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, and won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations. In 2002, it ranked second on TV Guide's list of television's greatest shows, behind Seinfeld and ahead of The Honeymooners. In 2007, it was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME." I Love Lucy remains popular, with an American audience of 40 million each year.
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. ("Little Ricky"), whose birth was timed to coincide with Ball's real-life delivery of her son Desi Arnaz Jr.
Lucy is naive and ambitious, with an undeserved zeal for stardom and a knack for getting herself and her husband into trouble whenever Lucy yearns to make it in show business. The Ricardos' best friends, Fred and Ethel, are former vaudevillians and this only strengthens Lucy's resolve to prove herself as a performer. Unfortunately, she has few marketable performance skills. She does not seem to be able to carry a tune or play anything other than off-key renditions of songs such as "Glow Worm" or "Sweet Sue" on the saxophone, and many of her performances devolve into 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 Audition" when she replaces an injured clown in Ricky's act, and later in Hollywood when she dances for a studio benefit using a rubber Ricky dummy as her dancing partner.
The show provided Ball ample opportunity to display her considerable skill at clowning and physical comedy. Character development was not a major focus of early sitcoms, so little was offered about her life before the show. A few episodes mentioned that she was born in Jamestown, New York (Lucille Ball's real-life home town), later corrected to 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; there are sizable Irish and Swedish communities in Jamestown), and that she met Ricky on a blind date. Her family was absent, other than occasional appearances by her bird-brained mother (Kathryn Card), who could never get Ricky's name right. Lucy also exhibited many stereotypical female traits that were standard for comedy at the time, including being secretive about her age and true hair color, and being careless with money. She was also depicted as a devoted housewife and attentive mother. 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. 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 immigrate to the United States on the very ship on which Lucy and the Mertzes were returning. Lucy later states Ricky played for Vallée only one night before being traded to Xavier Cugat's orchestra.
Lucy is usually found with her sidekick and best friend Ethel Mertz. 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 actually sing and dance.
Ethel's husband Fred served in World War I, and lived through the Great Depression. He is very stingy with money and an irascible no-nonsense type. However, he also shows that he can be a soft touch, especially when it comes to Little Ricky. Fred can also sing and dance and often performs duets with Ethel.
The Manhattan building they all lived in before their move to Westport, Connecticut, was addressed at a fictional 623 East 68th Street, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The addresses only go up to the 500s before the street terminates at the East River.
- Also see: List of I Love Lucy episodes
|First aired||Last aired||Rank||Rating|
|1||35||October 15, 1951||June 9, 1952||3||50.9|
|2||31||September 15, 1952||June 29, 1953||1||67.3|
|3||31||October 5, 1953||May 24, 1954||1||58.8|
|4||30||October 4, 1954||May 30, 1955||1||49.3|
|5||26||October 3, 1955||May 14, 1956||2||46.1|
|6||27||October 1, 1956||May 6, 1957||1||43.7|
|5||November 6, 1957||April 14, 1958||N/A||N/A|
|5||October 6, 1958||June 5, 1959||N/A||N/A|
|3||September 25, 1959||April 1, 1960||N/A||N/A|
The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour episodes
After season six of I Love Lucy, the series was rebranded The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour for its original broadcast run and rather than airing as weekly half hour series, hour long episodes were produced to run occasionally during the year. Thirteen episodes were broadcast as part of the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse from October 6, 1958, to April 1, 1960. The series was subsequently broadcast in syndication as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour and We Love Lucy. This show had the same cast as I Love Lucy, employed many of the other same actors, and featured many famous guest stars.
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.
In addition, CBS has run numerous specials, including a succession of annual specials which feature episodes which have been newly colorized.
The episode "Lucy Goes to the Hospital", which first aired on Monday, January 19, 1953, garnered a record 71.7 rating, meaning 71.7% of all households with television sets at the time were tuned in to view the program. 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% 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
- Nominated - Best Comedy Show
- Winner - Best Situation Comedy
- Winner - Best Comedienne: Lucille Ball
- Nominated - Best Female Star of a Regular Series: Lucille Ball
- Nominated - Best Series Supporting Actor: William Frawley
- Winner - Best Series Supporting Actress: Vivian Vance
- Winner - Best Situation Comedy
- Nominated - Best Actress Starring in a Regular Series: Lucille Ball
- Nominated - Best Situation Comedy Series
- Nominated - Best Supporting Actor in a Regular Series: William Frawley
- Nominated - Best Supporting Actress in a Regular Series: Vivian Vance
- Nominated - Best Written Comedy Material: Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll, Jr. and Madelyn Davis
- Nominated - Best Actor in a Supporting Role: William Frawley
- Winner - Best Actress, Continuing Performance: Lucille Ball
- Nominated - Best Comedy Writing: Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Davis, Bob Carroll, Jr., Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf for "L.A. at Last"
- Nominated - Best Continuing Performance by a Comedienne in a Series: Lucille Ball
- Nominated - Best Supporting Performance by an Actor: William Frawley
- Nominated - Best Supporting Performance by an Actress: Vivian Vance
- Nominated - 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 - Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic or Comedy Series: William Frawley
- Nominated - Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actress in a Dramatic or Comedy Series: Vivian Vance
I Love Lucy ranked highly in the Nielsen ratings throughout its entire run.
NOTE: The highest average rating for the series is in bold text.
The episode "Lucy Goes to the Hospital" first aired on Monday, January 19, 1953. It garnered a record 71.7 rating, meaning 71.7% of all television households at the time were tuned in to view the program. To this day, that record is surpassed only by Elvis Presley's first of three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, which aired on 9 September 1956 (82.6% rating). I Love Lucy does, however, have the highest average rating for a TV show for any season.
Beginning in the summer of 2001, Columbia House Television began releasing I Love Lucy on DVD in chronological order. They began that summer with the pilot and the first three episodes on a single DVD. Every six weeks, another volume of four episodes would be released on DVD in chronological order. During the summer of 2002, each DVD would contain between five and seven episodes on a single DVD. They continued to release the series very slowly and would not even begin to release any season 2 episodes until the middle of 2002. By the spring of 2003, the third season on DVD began to be released with about six episodes released every six weeks to mail order subscribers. All these DVDs have the identical features as the DVDs eventually released in the season box sets in retail.
By the fall of 2003, season four episodes began to be offered by mail. By the spring of 2004 season five DVDs with about six episodes each began to be released gradually. Columbia House ended the distribution of these mail order DVDs in the Winter of 2005. They began releasing complete season sets in the Summer of 2004 every few months. They stated that Columbia House Subscribers would get these episodes through mail before releasing any box sets with the same episodes. They finally ended gradual subscriptions in 2005, several months before season 5 became available in retail. Columbia House then began to make season box sets available instead of these single volumes.
CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released all six seasons of I Love Lucy on DVD in Region 1, as well as all 13 episodes of The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour (as I Love Lucy: The Final Seasons – 7, 8, & 9). Bonus features include rare on-set color footage and the "Desilu/Westinghouse" promotional film, as well as deleted scenes, original openings and interstitials (before they were altered or replaced for syndication) and on-air flubs. These DVDs offered identical features and identical content to the mail order single sets formerly available until 2005. 
In December 2013, the first high-definition release of I Love Lucy was announced, with the Blu-ray edition of the first season, scheduled for May 5, 2014. The Second Season Ultimate Blu-ray was released on August 4, 2015.
|Release||Ep #||DVD release date||Blu-ray release date|
|The Complete 1st Season||35||September 23, 2003
(re-released June 7, 2005)
(re-released October 9, 2012)
|May 6, 2014|
|The Complete 2nd Season||31||August 31, 2004
(re-released October 9, 2012)
|August 4, 2015|
|The Complete 3rd Season||31||February 1, 2005
(re-released October 9, 2012)
|The Complete 4th Season||30||May 3, 2005
(re-released October 9, 2012)
|The Complete 5th Season||26||August 16, 2005
(re-released November 6, 2012)
|The Complete 6th Season||27||May 2, 2006
(re-released November 6, 2012)
|The Final Seasons 7, 8 & 9||13||March 13, 2007
(re-released November 6, 2012)
|The Complete Series||193||October 23, 2007
(re-released November 3, 2015)
- I Love Lucy's Zany Road Trip: California Here We Come!, a compilation of 27 episodes, released by CBS/FOX Video on VHS in 1992
- "I Love Lucy – Season 1" (9 separate discs labeled "Volumes", first volume released July 2, 2002, final volume released September 23, 2003)
- "I Love Lucy – Season 1" (9 Volumes in box set, released September 23, 2003)
- "I Love Lucy – 50th Anniversary Special" (1 disc, released October 1, 2002)
- "I Love Lucy: The Movie and Other Great Rarities" (1 disc, released April 27, 2010) (Also included as a bonus disc in the complete series set.)
- "The Best of I Love Lucy" (2 discs: 14 episodes, released in June 2011 in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the series and Lucille Ball's 100th birthday; sold exclusively through Target.)
The DVD releases feature the syndicated heart opening, and offer the original broadcast openings as bonus features. Season 6 allows viewers to choose whether to watch the episodes with the original opening or the syndicated opening. The TV Land openings are not on these DVDs.
Initially, the first season was offered in volumes, with four episodes per disc. After the success of releasing seasons 2, 3, and 4 in slimpacks, the first season was re-released as a seven disc set, requiring new discs to be mastered and printed to include more episodes per disc so there would be fewer discs in the set. For the complete series box set, the first season would be redone again, this time to six DVDs, retaining all bonus features. The individual volume discs for the first season are still in print, but are rare for lack of shelf space and because the slimpacks are more popular. In 2012, all season sets were reissued in slipcovered clear standard-sized amaray DVD cases, with season 1 being the 6-disc version as opposed to the 7-disc version.
Episodes feature English closed-captioning, but only Spanish subtitles.
In Australia and the UK, the first three seasons were finally released in Region 2 & Region 4 on August 3, 2010, by CBS, distributed by Paramount. Season 1 includes the pilot and all 35 Season 1 episodes in a 7-disc set. Season 2 includes all 31 Season 2 episodes in a 5-disc set. Season 3 includes all 31 Season 3 episodes in a 5-disc set. Season 2 and 3 are in a slimline pack. All three seasons have been restored and digitally remastered. All episodes appear in order of their original air dates, although it states that some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. It is unknown if the remaining seasons will be released individually. A complete series box set titled I Love Lucy: Complete Collection was scheduled for release on April 6, 2016, and in the UK on May 30, 2016. This collection contains 34 DVDs with all six seasons of I Love Lucy and all 13 episodes of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.
In September 2018, Time-Life released a DVD, Lucy: The Ultimate Collection, which collected 76 episodes of I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, and the short-lived ABC-TV series Life with Lucy (which has never before been released to home media), plus a wide variety of bonus features. 
- "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows", CBS News, 2002-04-26. Retrieved on 2007-10-06.
- James Poniewozik. "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME", Time, Time.com, September 6, 2007. Retrieved on March 4, 2010.
- "I Love Lucy Goes Live! - Today's News: Our Take", TVGuide.com, 2011-09-14. Retrieved on 2012-11-22.
- The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows – 1946–Present,The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows – 1946–Present. Ballantine Books (1999). Retrieved on July 22, 2017. ISBN 9780345429230.
- The Lucy Book of Lists: Celebrating Lucille Ball's Centennial and the 60th Anniversary of "I Love Lucy",Karol, Michael (2010). The Lucy Book of Lists: Celebrating Lucille Ball's Centennial and the 60th Anniversary of "I Love Lucy". iUniverse. Retrieved on June 13, 2017. ISBN 978-1-4502-7414-2.
- The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows – 1946–Present, pp. 1679–1698. Ballantine Books (2007). ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
- I Love Lucy Goes HD. Below the Line. Retrieved on April 20, 2015.
- I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 Blu-ray. Blu-ray.com. Retrieved on April 20, 2015.
- I Love Lucy DVD news: Date Change for I Love Lucy - The Ultimate Season 2 - TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on June 14, 2015.
- ISBN 978-1415711552, OCLC 84674312 59170060
- ISBN 978-1415729564, OCLC 226035428
- ISBN 0793934249 ISBN 978-0793934249 ISBN 0793934257 ISBN 978-0793934256 OCLC 222813918
- David Lambert (February 2, 2010). I Love Lucy – Pricing and Early Cover Art for The Movie and Other Great Rarities. tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on February 6, 2010. Retrieved on February 7, 2010.
- The Best of ''I Love Lucy'' (Target Exclusive) : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video. Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved on November 22, 2012.
- Archived copy. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved on 2016-03-13.
- Robert Jay. "New Lucille Ball DVD Collection Includes Life with Lucy Episodes", TwoObscurities.com, September 23, 2018.