Gathering around the TV to watch the latest episode of I Love Lucy was an event for many families. Even today, folks still bond over the crazy antics, silly songs, and unmatched humor of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s beloved program.
The sitcom followed a New York City couple who got into their fair share of trouble. Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo was an ambitious wife, striving for stardom alongside her singer husband, Ricky Ricardo.
Their best friends and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz, made for a perfect pair to complement the characters of Lucy and Ricky.
Constant jokes and outlandish shenanigans won over the hearts of Americans for almost six years, ending with No. 1 ratings.
Although it seems like reruns are airing all the time and the show is recognized by almost everyone, there are quite a few pieces of behind-the-scenes knowledge that many people aren’t aware of.
Keep scrolling to learn these surprising I Love Lucy facts that you never knew!
[H/T: Mental Floss]
Thumbnail sources: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr
1. The Secret Behind Lucy’s Red Hair Was Locked Up In A Safe
Lucille Ball’s hairdresser, Irma Kusely, took the actress’ naturally brown hair and transformed it into the signature “golden apricot” hue we all know and love. To maintain Lucy’s red color, Irma combined regular hair dye with a balancing henna rinse. She received the henna from a wealthy sheikh, and kept it in a safe inside her garage until use.
2. ‘I Love Lucy’ Was The First TV Show To Use The 3-Camera Format We See Today
Ever wonder how TV shows and movies cut between a ton of angles within seconds? It’s all due to multicamera shooting. In fact, I Love Lucy was the first TV show to use three angled cameras at once, to ensure that they would never miss a comedic moment!
3. To Include Her Pregnancy Into The Show, The Jokes Were Reviewed By A Minister, A Priest, And A Rabbi
Pregnancy on TV was a tough subject back then, so much so that they wouldn’t say the word “pregnant” on air, instead using “expecting.” When Lucille got pregnant in real life, she decided to incorporate her experience into the show, despite possible controversy. All the jokes during her pregnancy had to be reviewed by a minister, a priest, and a rabbi — just to avoid offending anyone with the material.
4. Lucy Nearly Drowned While Filming The Famous Grape-Stomping Scene
The other actress in the grape-stomping scene didn’t have an extensive English vocabulary. Not fully understanding the directions in the scene, the woman ended up holding Lucy’s head down longer than needed. It’s said that Lucy nearly drowned in the grape juice.
5. Lucy Didn’t Think Vivian Vance Was ‘Dumpy’ Enough To Play Ethel
Lucille was worried that Vivian’s “not ugly” and “not overweight” persona would overshadow her own on screen. She wanted the character of her best friend Ethel to be “dumpy.” Vivian was dressed “frumpily” and made down for Lucy to appear more attractive on the show. Although they had a rocky beginning, Lucille and Vivian recovered and actually became the best of friends.
6. There Was Absolutely No Improv
As hilarious as all the scenes are, they were all completely scripted. Unlike a lot of shows we watch today, I Love Lucy didn’t allow for improv or deviation from the official script. The actors ran right through their scenes, often without any mistakes.
7. The Actors Received A Silver Dollar Every Time They Caused Spontaneous Applause From The Audience
It was a beloved tradition from the start of the show for the actors to collect a silver dollar each time they caused a spontaneous round of applause from the crowd of 300 audience members. Each actor kept track of the silver dollars he or she earned on a chart in the studio.
8. Desi Refused To Have An Episode Where Ricky Cheated On His Taxes
When the writers came up with an episode in which Desi’s character, Ricky, cheated on his taxes, he shut it down. He had escaped from Cuba with his family at the age of 17 and experienced several opportunities that only America could offer him. He didn’t want viewers to see him as an unpatriotic man.
9. Lucy Was 40 Years Old When She Started Her Breakout Role
Although Lucille was a seasoned actress, she didn’t have her breakout role as Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo until she was 40 years old. The powerhouse actress, studio owner, and mogul proved that she could do it all and that age doesn’t mean a thing!
10. The Show Still Brings In About $20 Million Annually, All These Years Later
According to the Los Angeles Times, I Love Lucy still delivers about $20 million annually to CBS, which owns the show’s library. Even decades after the show ended, it is still considered to be a favorite among people from every generation. The program’s humor and charm has clearly surpassed the test of time, leaving behind a one-of-a-kind legacy!
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