June 23, 2007

Bicycle from I Love Lucy Pilot Show on Display

The Rapaports add another treasure to the Lucy-Desi Archives. The world’s smallest bicycle as Seen on “I Love Lucy” is now on display at Desilu Playhouse in Lucy’s hometown.

In March of 1951, Pepito Perez rode the world’s smallest bicycle in the pilot of what was to become the most widely viewed series ever on television. As “Pepito the Spanish Clown”, he again rode this tiny two-wheeler in episode 52 of “I Love Lucy”, “Lucy’s Showbiz Swan Song”, that first aired on December 22, 1952.

Thanks to the continuing generosity of Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center benefactors Bill and Mary Rapaport of East Amherst, New York, this historic prop is now one of the artifacts in the Lucy-Desi Museum’s collection. A special case has been constructed to exhibit it, and visitors to the Desilu Playhouse can now see it in all its tiny glory! The Desilu Playhouse is the “I Love Lucy” museum in the Rapaport Center in Jamestown, New York, Lucille Ball’s hometown.

A long-time friend of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Perez was responsible for helping develop Lucy and Desi’s 1950 vaudeville act that toured the country to prove to CBS Television that the American public would accept the redhead and the band leader as a comedy team.

This bicycle is the most recent gem from the estate of Pepito Perez that the Rapaports have contributed to the Lucy-Desi Center. Others are two costumes that Pepito wore in “I Love Lucy” -- a 13-piece clown outfit and a lion tamer ensemble complete with safari hat and bullwhip -- and the frog costume William Frawley wore in “Little Ricky’s School Pageant”, episode 163, that aired for the first time on December 17, 1956. The Rapaports also donated Lucille Ball’s first Hollywood contract to the Center.

In expressing the Lucy-Desi Center’s appreciation, Executive Director Ric Wyman noted, “We were overwhelmed with Bill and Mary’s generosity in initially making the Desilu Playhouse possible. Their continuing support means that the thousands of fans who’ve already visited Jamestown’s two museums will be able to enjoy wonderful new treasures when they return. The Rapaports have more than earned the enormous gratitude of all of us at the Center and fans everywhere.”


  1. Joanne wanted the mini bike to go to the Smithsonian. That is where she place the actual original pilot for "I Love Lucy". She also wanted Lucy's personal letters destroyed, not sold.

    I had known Peptito and Joanne from the 50's through each of the deaths. Joanne and I were very close; therefore, she shared with me what whe wanted done with her things. It is pretty obvious that Biola did not honor her wishes. I could go on, but it would do no good at this point.

  2. I don't see any information about Lucy's personal letters being sold. (at least not any letters between Joanne Perez and Lucy) Lucy's personal secretary may have sold some letters to the museum.

    I am sure that Biola University conducted the management of the estate in a professional and legal manner considering that the University has a legal staff. If the estate went through probate, then you would have had an opportunity to contest or voice your concerns regarding the distribution of the estate items.

    At least the bike is in a place where fans can appreciate it, and Pepito's contribution to Lucy's act have been well documented.