Boomer TV Trivia: I Love Lucy

Q1. Was the character of Ricky Ricardo, Jr. (Little Ricky) on the I Love Lucy television show ever played by Lucy and Desi Arnaz’s real child, Desi Arnaz, Jr.?

Q2. Was I Love Lucy filmed in front of a live studio audience in New York, or with a laugh track?

i love lucy, desi arnaz, lucille ball, 1950s sitcoms, television series Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Jr. in I Love Lucy. (Photo: YouTube | I Love Lucy)

When I Love Lucy debuted on October 15, 1951, no one could have predicted it would not only become tremendously popular in it’s own era (it was the #1 show for 4 of it’s 6 seasons and won 5 Emmy Awards), but would become so beloved by future generations – baby boomers, zoomers, generations x, y & z, who watched it in re-runs, that it would be named the Best TV Show of All Time (2012 survey by ABC News and People Magazine). After the 1/2 hour original I Love Lucy series ended, it was replaced with an 1 hour long show called The Luci-Desi Comedy Hour, which ran for another 3 years.

Stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Sr. (Lucy and Ricky Ricardo), and Vivian Vance and William Frawley (Ethel and Fred Mertz) played neighbours in New York City. Off-air, neither couple was a happy one. Real-life married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz fought frequently and when the I Love Lucy sequel series The Luci-Desi Comedy Hour ended in 1960, Lucille Ball filed for divorce the next day. Co-stars Vivian Vance and William Frawley did not get along either off-air; Frawley was 22 years her senior, and a curmudgeonly alcoholic. Below, Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel and Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy

i love lucy, vivian vance, ethel mertz, william frawley, fred mertz, 1950s tv series, 50s sitcoms (Photo: YouTube | I Love Lucy)

Most memorable episodes? Everybody has their own favourite, but some of the most popular include Lucy Does a TV Commercial – with Ball acting as the “Vitameatavegamin girl”; Job Switching, with Lucy and Ethel working the assembly line at a candy factory; Harpo Marx, with guest star Harpo Marx mirroring Lucy, and Lucy’s Italian Movie, with Lucy stomping grapes at a local winery as she researches her role. However, the highest rated episode of the I Love Lucy television show was Lucy Goes to the Hospital, in which Lucy gives birth to Ricky Ricardo Jr.; 71.7 of all television households were tuned in to watch the episode, a rating only exceeded by Elvis Presley‘s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Below, clips from some of the best I Love Lucy episodes.

i love lucy, lucille ball, desi arnaz jr, vivian vance, william frawley, fred mertz, ethel mertz, ricky ricardo jr, the luci-desi comedy hour, baby boomers, senior, baby boomer tv, boomer tv triviaA1. No. Although Lucille Ball’s real-life pregnancy was written into the I Love Lucy television show for her character Lucy, her real-life son Desi Arnaz Jr. never appeared on the show. Little Ricky was played by two different sets of twins when his character was still a baby and then a toddler. Desi Arnaz discovered gifted child drummer Keith Thibodeau when he was touring with the Horace Heidt Orchestra at age 3, making $500/week playing the drums, and Keith played 6-year-old Little Rickey on I Love Lucy, where he often played the drums (Photo:

Desi Arnaz Jr. grew up to become a drummer and actor himself. Interesting period fact: At the time, CBS would not allow the word “pregnant” to be  used on-air….so the term “expecting” was used in it’s place.

A2. Although most sit-coms at the time used a laugh track and were filmed in New York city using 1 camera and shown on kinescopes to west coast audiences, I Love Lucy was filmed in Hollywood, California in front of a live studio audience, using 3 cameras and 35mm film to ensure a high quality video for both east and west coast viewers. These I Love Lucy pioneering differences from the norm, would become the new standard for television sit-com filming. Lucy and Desi wanted to remain based in Hollywood, which required some changes in the filming process to accommodate both east and west-coast audiences, and produce a dynamic complete episode.

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & baby boomer writer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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