Tag Archives: desi arnaz

Lucy and Desi Trivia

13 Jul

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  • Lucille Ball was naturally a brunette. She dyed it blonde when she moved to Hollywood and didn’t dye it red until 1942 for her role in DuBarry was a Lady.
  • Lucy was on the very first cover of TV Guide. She would go on to be cover picture 39 more times, more than any other celebrity.
  • Desi Arnaz had a remarkable memory. He would often memorize all of this lines after only one read through of the script.
  • Ricky never says the famous line, “Lucy, you have some ‘splaining to do.” The closet he comes is saying, “Lucy, ‘splain!”
  • In 1933, for her role as a slave girl in Roman Scandals, Ball shaved her eyebrows and they never grew back.
  • For many years, Lucy and Desi hid the fact that she was 6 years older than him. Instead they met in the middle making her 3 years younger and him 3 years older.

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.”

Happy Happy Birthday Desi Dear

2 Mar

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Feliz Cumpleaños to Desiderio Alberto Arnaz ye de Acha the Third who would’ve been exactly 100 years old today!

Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III

2 Feb

AKA Desi Arnaz

Arnaz was born in Santiago, Cuba on March 2nd, 1917. His father was Santiago’s youngest mayor until the Cuban Revolution caused for this father to be jailed. He was released after six months and the family fled to Miami.

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Arnaz got interested in show biz and played guitar for Xavier Cugat. Arnaz is credited for bringing the conga to America! He got offered a role on Broadway in the show Too Many Girls where he met Lucille Ball. He was drafted for WWII but due to a knee injury got assigned to the U.S.O and entertained the troops. During one of this stints, he hired old friend Marco Rizo to play piano and arrange the orchestra. Loyal to his freinds, Rizo was kept on to arrange the orchestra on ILL.

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Together Arnaz and Ball founded Desilu Productions. While he may not have been the best husband, he did make good TV. Arnaz is responsible for the three camera style of shooting, having a live audience (and live reactions) and for the re-run!  Arnaz pushed for the comedy on ILL to be in “good taste” and didn’t allow for racist jokes. The only exception being Lucy was allowed to make fun of his English. He even had the show dubbed in Spanish and had Spanish subtitles, but Arnaz was quite patriotic and proud of being the American Dream. Arnaz also maintained that ILL refrain from making jokes about mental or physical handicaps.

Rumors abound that Arnaz was unfaithful to Ball and had an alcohol problem. Ball ultimately divorced Arnaz and bought him out of the company they co-owned. They remained on good terms, with Arnaz quoted as saying/writing “I Love Lucy was never just a title.” Desi married again on March 2, 1963 to  Edith Mack Hirsch until her death in 1985.

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Towards the end of Arnaz’s life, he and Edith moved to Corona, California to breed horses– which is where I grew up from 2-17 years old!

Arnaz died of lung cancer December 2nd, 1986.


ILL in the Beginning

5 Jan

America first watched ILL on Oct 15th, 1951. A Monday night on CBS. (Can we all agree that the CBS Monday night line up has fallen farrrr from the comedy tree?) So in keeping with tradition, I’m going to be watching an episode every Monday from the beginning all through the 180 episodes, to the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Follow along!

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Before we get into Ep 1, let’s look at the show as a whole & it’s background. ILL started as the radio program “My Favorite Husband” which I’m sure I’ll reference much during the first season as most of the plot lines were borrowed from that. Lucille Ball played Liz opposite Richard Denning as George Cooper. Originally they were the Cugat’s but the last name was changed to avoid confusion with Xavier Cugat.

CBS asked Ball to expand her show to TV and Ball demanded that her husband Desi Arnaz take Denning’s place. CBS didn’t think America would buy or want to watch a white woman and a Cuban husband so the Arnaz-Balls took their show on the road as a vaudeville act and proved CBS wrong. The exec’s eventually gave in to Ball’s request. A little foreshadowing of the kind of woman Ball was!

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There’s so much behind the scenes production stuff that went into creating the show that I don’t know if is interesting to anyone else but goes into the way the makers of this show changed TV forever. They brought in an audience because it made Ball a better performer. Which meant a live laugh track.  They pioneered the three camera format. They shot on film even though it was more expensive and Ball and Arnaz took pay cuts to pay for it, in exchange for producer credit and part ownership.

The radio program turned into a pilot which was ultimately tweaked and with that, the parts of the Mertzes were created. Ball lobbied for old friends Gale Gordon and Bea Benarderet to play Fred and Ethel but their schedules didn’t work out for a permanent role; Gordon would go on to play bit parts throughout the series and Benarderet was the one hit wonder Mrs. Lewis. Frawley was finally brought on as Mr. Mertz and oh brother, I’ll get into that later! Vivian Vance was cast as his wife- and again there’s a story there we’ll talk about in the future.

So with the MFH writers, Bob Carroll Jr and Madelyn Pugh (later Davis) on board, the Mertzes cast and CBS agreeing that a real life couple could be accepted as a TV couple, I Love Lucy was born.