You know, some of those “I Love Lucy” episodes still bring a smile to your face. They are a part of your life. Lucille Ball talked about it often.
In an appearance on “The Merv Griffin Show,” Griffin asks Ball was was it “I Love Lucy” had that made people in his studio audience raise their hands in unison. Griffin asked audience members if they had an episode or sketch that they remembered specifically.
Watch Ball, from this August 1981 appearance, answer his question. Catch it at the 15-minute mark of the video. It’s an amazing answer from one of television’s greatest stars.
‘I Love Lucy’ Writers Provide Memorable Moments For Show’s Fans
The writers whom Ball mentions from “I Love Lucy” are Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Pugh. They reportedly created a Vaudeville act for Ball and Desi Arnaz. That would lead to creating the pilot for one of CBS’s greatest sitcoms.
Now Carroll and Pugh started writing for Ball on “My Favorite Husband,” a radio show that put them together along with another key “I Love Lucy” team member in producer Jess Oppenheimer.
Watch the post-show credits roll by while that familiar theme song for Ball’s TV show plays. You will see their names listed right there. The contributions of Carroll, Pugh, and Oppenheimer to her success still make people laugh today.
Just take note of Griffin’s audience and their response to his question. Also, listen to Ball’s response to Griffin’s inquiry as well.
Lucille Ball died on April 26, 1989, at 77 years old. She went from struggling dancer on Broadway to one of Hollywood’s most powerful women both in front and behind the camera. “I Love Lucy” kicked in a lifetime love affair with TV viewers from the 1950s to the current moment.
Ball Received Offers To Do A Variety Show, But She Declined
Most of her career was spent on TV. Besides “I Love Lucy,” her other series are “The Lucy Show,” “Here’s Lucy,” and the short-lived “Life with Lucy.” She also appeared in movies before and after her TV success. One type of show which was quite popular back in the 1950s and 1960s was variety shows.
A lot of classic TV fans will remember “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which would have a mix of singers, dancers, actors, and pop stars each Sunday night. Another hit show on CBS, by the way. Sullivan was in no way a comedian. Yet variety shows were hosted by comedians like Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton back in that time. People flocked to see those variety shows every single week for different reasons.
Ball was asked to consider doing a variety show. She declined. The “I Love Lucy” star had her reasons.
“You know, everything is having trouble in the ratings,” Ball said during a 1978 TV appearance at UCLA. “They can’t seem to find themselves. But the reason I don’t cotton after a real variety show is that I just don’t want to be a mistress of ceremonies.”
If you know about Ball’s style, then she’s quite athletic in her work. Meaning, Ball likes to be moving and on her feet a lot. Some variety show hosts didn’t do that type of thing, like Sullivan. The format was one that didn’t suit Ball.