A Retro-flective by
Paul, "The Wise Gardener"
"I Love Lucy', the television sit-com by
which ALL others are measured (and seen by almost everyone in the civilized world), is
almost now in its Golden Anniversary Year! How could it possibly be that
old? Are we that old too? No way!!
"I Love Lucy" was never like any other show that we grew up on. It
seemed more naughty, more adult, and somehow, more real!
it was the almost "prohibitively expensive" three-camera technique, filmed in
DESILU'S now-famous patented 35 mm "movie film" approach, that has kept each
precious facial expression by all four "players" as crisp and effective, as when
first filmed. This technique made "I Love Lucy" a vivid weekly tele-play
that fully showcased the comedic geniuses of Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred.
Maybe it was the very believable
interaction of Lucy, Ricky, Fred, & Ethel. They seemed like our friends, and
friends with each other. (This, of course, was NOT always the case, but viewers never
were the wiser!) "Crusty Fred" and "Frowsy
Ethel" acted as any "normal" 25 years anniversary couple might be expected
to behave! They actually bickered on TV! (We found out that "behind the
scenes", Vivian Vance & William Frawley detested each other, but their acting
"professionalism" always prevailed.) The show went on (for nine years),
and the results were magical! Indeed, Fred & Ethel provided some of the very
best sneers, jabs, insults, and yes, "making up scenes!" Those two were
always a joy to watch perform opposite each other!
It was said that all three major
characters, playing opposite Lucille Ball, were her supporting cast; this is entirely
incorrect! In reality, the actors worked synergistically and "I Love Lucy"
was truly an innovative "ensemble" cast. All four players got equal shares
of the "laugh-track!" Each character was essential in creating
AND maintaining that "I Love Lucy" classic magic for all 109 episodes!
The Ricardos and The Mertzes first
entered our B/W TV "boxes" every Monday, since Sept.
12, 1952 (sponsored by Philip-Morris,) and the "gales" of laughter remained
unabated, until 1959. As the marriage grew strained, the scripts "thinned"
a bit towards the end of this triumphant run, but by then, "I Love Lucy" was an
indelible facet of Americana, as it remains today.
"I Love Lucy" was an idea
"cooked" up to save the Arnaz' already deteriorating marriage. Due to
bi-Coastal work commitments for Lucy & Desi, jealousies and suspicions arose. A
desire to start a family added additional pressures on the two actors. When a script was promulgated by
Carroll-DePugh-Davis, the "dream" comedy writing team, it got a serious nod of
affirmation from both Lucille & Desi, looking for a "fix" to their domestic
problems. Ahh! Now a way to work together where: 1. Lucille could keep
an "eye" on Desi, and 2. Lucille could fulfill her dream of beginning a family
(she was worried that time "was running out" as she had turned 42. Lucy
exclaimed, "no time like the present!"
Desi & she purchased a 40 Acre ranch out in
Chatsworth, CA, away from the hub-bub of the San Fernando Valley, and began to put down
"roots!" At first, it all worked very well, but Desi & Lucy really
wanted two different things: He desired, and achieved, a broadcasting
"empire", AKA Desilu, but she craved a simple country life away from L.A.'s,
dirty air, and traffic...and, above all: wanted BABIES! Lucy got all this, but
ultimately, Desi's power won out over domestic "bliss" and unfortunately for the
two, the "dream" steadily evaporated until little passion remained.
Divorce ended their twenty-year "run" in 1960.
Lucille and Desidero Arnaz were very fallible
humans, (who really loved each other very much), but fell prey to whatever humans have
always fallen prey to: (you fill in the blanks!) Their legacy transcends their human
"flaws", however. These two produced & acted their hearts out, (as did
Vivian & Bill), and over 50 years later, their collective innovative genius is even
more remarkably evident!
Let's face it friends, we
"I Love Lucy" more than ever!