December 15, 2006

"I Love Lucy" Costume Donated to The Lucy-Desi Center

As reported by the Lucille Ball - Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, NY, the frog costume worn by William Frawley in the I Love Lucy episode, "Little Ricky’s School Pageant" has been donated to the center by Bill and Mary Rapaport of East Amherst, New York.

Fifty years ago this Sunday, on December 17, 1956, “Little Ricky’s School Pageant”, episode 163 of “I Love Lucy”, aired for the first time.

The script called for the four main characters to take on roles in Little Ricky’s kindergarten play, “The Enchanted Forest”. Desi Arnaz, in the role of Ricky Ricardo, played a talking tree, while Lucille Ball, as Lucy Ricardo, swung above the stage as the wicked old witch of the forest. Little Ricky’s godparents were also part of the ensemble: Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance) played the fairy princess while Fred (William Frawley) took on the role of the friendly frog, Hippity-Hoppity.

Bill and Mary Rapaport of East Amherst, New York, recently donated the frog costume William Frawley wore in this classic episode to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, New York. It includes an oversized frog “head”, “hands” and “feet”. The costume had been part of the Estate of Pepito Perez and was offered at a Hollywood memorabilia auction in Beverly Hills in December, 2005. While the costume was missing the union suit that Bill Frawley wore, it fetched $17,000. The Rapaports subsequently purchased it from the auction’s high bidder and have made it available to be enjoyed by visitors to Lucy’s hometown.

This amazing costume is now on exhibit in the Desilu Playhouse, a museum devoted to the “I Love Lucy” television series. It was unveiled yesterday (Thursday, December 14) to members of the Lucy-Desi Center’s Acquisitions Society, a group that was created in the summer of 2005 to acquire and care for historically significant items related to the First Couple of Comedy. Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. are among the Society’s founding members.

Following the unveiling, a special luncheon was held in the Tropicana Room on the second floor of the Rapaport Center. The Desilu Playhouse occupies the ground floor of the Rapaport Center at 2 W. Third Street in downtown Jamestown and was made possible primarily through private funding from the Rapaports.

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