Archive | April, 2017

My Favorite Husband

27 Apr

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The radio program ILL was based on, MFH was- to take it even further back- based on the novels Mr. and Mrs. Cugat, the Record of a Happy Marriage and Outside Eden  written by Isabel Scott Rorick. MFH originally aired as a one off on CBS Radio July 5th, 1948, to fill air time before the new show Our Miss Brooks  was set to premiere. That “pilot” starred Lucille Ball and Lee Bowman as Liz and George Cugat. It received such positive feedback that CBS Radio decided to order a full series.

Bowman was unable to to do the series so Richard Denning took over as the husband and the last name was changed to Cooper to distance the couple from Xavier Cugat.  Gale Gordon got hired to play George’s boss and Bea Benederet played his wife, Iris. Bob LeMond, who was the narrator of the lost pilot ep of ILL, was the announcer on the show. The show was originally written by the same writers as Ozzie and Harriet but after about 10 episodes it was taken over by Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Pugh, who of course we know later would write ILL.

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This show about a happily married, middle class couple aired 124 episodes from July, 1948 to the last one on March 31st, 1951.

CBS ended up turning MFH into it’s own TV show in 1953 starring Vanessa Brown and Barry Nelson and more closely mirrored the  early radio version of the couple, a well to-do bank exec and his social butterfly wife. It lasted two and a half seasons.

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Photo Gallery: Behind the Scenes

20 Apr

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A studio audience awaits to be let into a taping of the show.

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Was the most famous Redhead a Red?

13 Apr

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While there were a few controversial things about ILL, her pregnancy, her latin husband, for me- it’s her being spanked…) the biggest scandal was Ball’s Communism connection! Was Lucille Ball a Communist??

In 1936, Ball signed a certificate that stated, “I am registered as affiliated with the Communist Party.” She was appointed to the State Central Committee of the Communist Party of California and apparently held a new members class at her home.

The House Un-American Activities Commitee (HUAC) was formed in 1938 to investigate any disloyal Americans with Nazi, Fascist or Communist ties.  In 1947, the committee got together to look into Hollywood and it’s influence and the Hollywood Ten were blacklisted. It shook up Hollywood.  Some, in response, went underground, fled the US or wrote under a pseudonym. Studios would go on the defense and make anti-communism propaganda. Hundreds of stars were questioned by HUAC and Ball was on the list.

In 1953, Ball met with HUAC investigator William A. Wheeler and gave a sealed testimony swearing that she never voted for the party and only registered Communist in ’36 to appease her Socialist Grandfather.

Her husband, known for his patriotism stood by her side. Before the taping of “The Girls Go into Business,” Desi Arnaz explained to the audience about Lucy and her grandfather. The story corroborated by Lucy’s mother and brother. Furthermore, in 1944, she was shown in support for FDR and in 1952 claims she voted for Republican nominee Eisenhower.

Ball was ultimately cleared by HUAC but people still question her today. Was Lucy a Red? As friend of the show Hedda Hopper said,  “The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate.”

10 Lowest Rated

6 Apr

Well, we’ve talked about the highest rated episodes before so let’s take a look at the lower rated ones. Hey, they can’t be all winners!

Again I’ll look to IMDb at the last ten on their ratings page but I did want to add a few that stick out to me for all the wrong reasons. I’m giving the pilot a pass because a) they’re notoriously flawed and b) it wasn’t aired in the usual manner as the rest of the eps.

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#1 Lucy Goes to Scotland (S5E17)
I’m not sure how I feel about this being the lowest! It’s a little farcical but it’s also the only episode they managed to colorize. I’ll find myself humming “I’m in Love with a Dragon’s Dinner” from time to time.

#2 Lucy Plays Cupid (S1E15)
Any ep where Lucy gets spanked always gets a point taken away by me. But it’s fun to see the Ethel-that-could-have-been, Bea Benaderet and the fire in her furnace.

#3 The Young Fans (S1E20)
Richard Crenna’s very first credited role! But I agree it’s not a strong episode. Two teen neighbor kids fall for Ricky and Lucy respectively. It does border on the creepy side.

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#4 The Benefit (S1E13)
What’s so wrong with this one? I adore the act Ricky and Lucy do and her ruining all his jokes. Tap tap tap!

#5 The Adagio (S1E12)
I was honestly surprised to see so many season 1 episodes on this list. I think season 1 has some winning, iconic eps. I guess it was very hit and miss. In this one, Lucy gets a little too close to her dance teacher. It’s nothing too egregious but it’s also not the most memorable.

#6 Drafted (S1E11)
The girls think the boys have been drafted. The boys think the girls are pregnant. There are questions I have about this ep.

#7 The Audition (S1E6)
Alright now you’ve really done it. I guess since this is like the pilot and people didn’t like the pilot, and A=B and B=C but I’ll stand by this. Ball is fantastic in it.

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#8 The Operetta (S2E5)
Okay, I  am and have always been aware that I love this episode more than most. But darn it, I love this episode. I like musicals though and I think I’m seeing a common thread here.  No one can argue Vance’s talent after seeing her as Lily of the Valley!

#9 Cuban Pals (S1E28)
Again, it’s the musical numbers that lure me in. The song “Lady in Red” is great and Desi has a flub in the episode that makes for a real genuine moment.

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And I’m counting both as #10
Tennessee Ernie Visits & Tennessee Ernie Hangs on (S3E28 & 29) I might even add Tennessee Bound in for good measure. Ernie Ford is a long time friend to Ball but he is a bit… grating. Although Lucy makes a great “wicked city woman.”

And to follow up with my stinkers:

#11 Lucy Cries Wolf (S4E3)
This one is such a bummer to me! I can barely watch it. Yes, Lucy is a brat. I get that. But the idea that she was really  tied up by strange criminals is too disturbing to me to be a gag. Pass.

#14 The Courtroom (S2E7)
When the Ricardos and Mertzes fight it’s either great (Breaking the Lease) or it’s hard to watch. This one is the latter. The Ricardos try and do a good thing and it turns into a total disaster.  Redecorating is the episode right after this and it’s in the similar vein. Not the best, in my opinion.

Agree? Disagree?? What do you think?