So how well do you know Lucy? Here are the answers to our quiz:
Which was not in the contract for the cast members?
A. Desi Arnaz could only perform a song when it was deemed by the writers to be essential to the plot.
B. Bill Frawley was allowed to miss performances if the Yankees were in the World Series.
C. Vivian Vance's weight had to exceed Lucille Ball's by 10 to 15 pounds for the entire run.
D. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were given 100% ownership to the rights of I Love Lucy.
It has long been rumored that Lucille Ball contractually required Vivian Vance to weigh more than her, but it's not true. In 1975, during an appearance on a daytime talk show, Vance poked a little fun at this persistent piece of gossip by reading from her supposed employment contract. This is a snippet of what she read:
Which notorious dictator had reels and reels of old I Love Lucys?
A. Pol Pot
B. Idi Amin
D. Robert Mugabe
Upon seeing the I Love Lucy pilot, what cultural luminary said, "Keep the redhead. Ditch the Cuban. No one will understand him."
A. Oscar Hammerstein
B. Truman Capote
C. Dorothy Parker
D. Carmen Miranda
Oscar Hammerstein was good friends with Milton Biow, the ad man who helped I Love Lucy find its sponsor, Philip Morris. When Biow explained that the Cuban came with the redhead as a package deal, Hammerstein said they shouldn't let him sing. As a result, it went into the contract that any performance by Desi had to be essential to the plot. (As the show became a huge hit, Arnaz did as much singing as he pleased.)
WhatdidWilliamFrawley not doonthesetofILoveLucy?
C.Getinafistfightwithcameramenwhohethoughtwereshootinghimat unflattering angles.
William Frawley played the curmudgeonly landlord Fred Mertz. Frawley was an old vaudevillian, a gambler, and a drinker -- a good time guy, not a particularly diligent worker, and certainly not worried about looking pretty for the camera. Sometimes, when Frawley would be napping on the set, Desi Arnaz would give him a "hot foot," a kind of old timey prank when you set someone's shoelaces on fire (watch out, Kurt). The writers of I Love Lucy knew that if they wrote too many lines of dialogue for him, Frawley would pull them aside and give them a talking to. Number one hit show be damned, he needed time to play the ponies.
During the second season of I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball was pregnant, and so was her character on the show. Which of the following is not true:
A. The word pregnant was never used during on the show.
B. The twin beds of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo were pushed further apart.
C. A priest, a rabbi, and a minister vetted the scripts.
D. Philip Morris dropped sponsorship during the pregnancy.
Philip Morris did not drop its sponsorship during the episodes of I Love Lucy in which Lucy was pregnant. But Lucy Ricardo did cut back on her smoking while she was carrying.
Who played Little Ricky on I Love Lucy?
A. Richard Keith
B. Keith Richards
C. Desi Arnaz Jr.
D. Keith Thibodeaux
Answer: A or D
Most people assume that Desi Arnaz Jr. played Little Ricky on I Love Lucy, something that bothers Desi Jr. Little Ricky was actually played by Keith Thibodeaux, a child actor who could play the heck out of a conga drum. In the credits of I Love Lucy Thibodeaux is listed as either "Little Ricky" or "Richard Keith." And at one time, he was even listed in an encyclopedia of TV as Keith Richards. (That's a show we'd like to see.) Thibodeaux left acting and later co-founded Ballet Magnificat!, an arts organization "dedicated to presenting the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world."
We've got many more stories about the making of I Love Lucy in our American Icons episode --- listen here.
Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.