Little Ricky Is Born and so is the Re-Run

19 Jan

Image result for desi arnaz jr richard keith

Happy birthday to both Desi Arnaz Jr and Little Ricky, who were born January 19th 1953.

Image result for richard keith little ricky

NOT Desi Jr.

Some people still think Little Ricky IS Desi Jr. but the child we know as LR is played by Richard Keith.  Someday I may talk further about both of these two men, but I wanted to focus  more on Lucy’s pregnancy. Or rather, what her pregnancy meant for the show and with that, the future of television.

Image result for lucille ball gives birth

The writers of ILL were forbidden by Standards and Practices for using the very offensive term “pregnant.” The closest they came was titling one episode “Lucy is Enceinte” and another “Pregnant Women are Unpredictable” both of which would not be seen by the audience at home. In order to maintain it’s wholesomeness over such a delicate topic, each episode involving Lucy’s “condition” was reviewed by a priest, minister and rabbi. They covered all their bases! And while Lucy wasn’t the first expectant woman on TV, people certainly were interested in her story. 44 million viewers tuned in to watch the grand entrance of the newest Ricardo. More people watched that than the swearing in of President Eisenhower the following day.

Image result for lucille ball pregnant












But here’s where her pregnancy changed television. Arnaz was already adamant that they shoot the show on 35mm instead of the standard kinescope because he didn’t like the look that kinescope produced. Film was permanent and ultimately, re-playable. So when Lucille Ball had to take time off for maternity leave, instead of losing their place in the Monday night line up, the crew took a handful of previously shown episodes, shot a new little opener to explain what was up and played the filmed episode. And thus the re-run was born!

The episode “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” was scheduled for Jan 19th 1953 as was Ball’s Cesarean section. At first Jess Oppenheimer wanted to match the Ricardo baby’s gender to the Arnaz baby but ultimately decided that either way, the Ricardo’s would have a baby boy. Desi told Jess that this might be his only chance of having a son, since of course in 1953 they’re weren’t gender reveal parties. But when Desi Jr. came into the world, Desi called Jess and told him, “Lucy followed your script. Ain’t she something?” Oppenheimer, in his biography states he replied, “Terrific! That makes me the greatest writer in the world!”



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