January 21, 2013

60 Year Anniversary of Celebrated I Love Lucy Show

This past Saturday, January 19th marked the 60th anniversary of the episode, "Lucy Goes to the Hospital." This was a groundbreaking moment in TV History that marked the highest Nielsen rating for any one show, with 98.6% of all households watching "I Love Lucy" that Monday evening. This episode featured the birth of Little Ricky, the fictional son of Rick and Lucy Ricardo. Most Lucy fans know that Keith Thibodeaux played Little Ricky throughout most of the I Love Lucy series. But Thibodeaux did not appear until Season 6 in 1956! The Baby that everyone saw on Lucy that night was James John Ganzer. Another little known fact is the full name of Little Ricky was Enrique Alberto Ricardo IV.

Not only was this a groundbreaking show in Nielsen ratings but also that Lucy gave birth in a TV Series during that era. Not only was Lucille Ball the first actress to be pregnant on television, something unheard of back then, as she had her real-life pregnancy written directly into the show.

Lucy actually gave birth to her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr. by a cesarean section just hours before CBS aired this episode. "It’s a very cool moment in television history to recognize because it gives one a sense of the significance of the show in American culture at that time, and because [a 98.6% Nielsen share] will almost certainly never happen again,” said Journey Gunderson, executive director at the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy.

"In today's fragmented world of hundreds of TV channels and dozens of mobile media viewing platforms, even the most popular TV broadcasts are seen by just a small fraction of the viewing audience," said Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator, Jess Oppenheimer. "It's awe-inspiring to think that my dad and his co-writers Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. were able to write something that was experienced and enjoyed by practically everyone in the country at the same time."

Time truly stood still for this landmark episode. Not only did the episode's ratings completely eclipse those of the first-ever televised presidential inauguration the following day, Colonel McCormick, owner and publisher of the Chicago Times, even scheduled his inauguration-eve party for Dwight Eisenhower around the episode so that the gala would finish at 9pm - just in time to roll out a television and allow the dignitaries to watch the telecast.

In celebration of this anniversary, Gregg Oppenheimer, son of Jess Oppenheimer (co-creator, producer and writer for I Love Lucy) will be releasing his new audiobook, I Love Lucy: The Untold Story. The audiobook can be downloaded on iTunes, Amazon.com and Audible. This book is a fully cast radio play exploring the creation of I Love Lucy and includes funny anecdotes about what it was like to be on the set. Included in this audiobook is a bonus, 15-minute previously unreleased interview with Jess Oppenheimer in 1961. All proceeds on the sale go directly towards the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great story! I love Lucy, like everyone else. It was her best sitcom of all. My favorite is the Phipps Department Store commercial done live in their apartment and Lucy comes out thinking it's a rehearsal in a potato bag and fright wig and big teeth. LOL