Emsworth Mon May 26 21:37:35 2003|
The Lost History of "I Love Lucy" reveal
Courtesy of my friend, historian and Scrappy fanatic Harry McCracken (www.harrymccracken.com), with additional research by yours truly, who in the past has delved into the vaults and revealed the shocking tales of the lost animation theme parks such as Terrytown in Tarrytown, NY, which used live rats to simulate the animated Terry ones and save money, and Walt's Place, the restaurant which actually inspired Disneyland and which used animation cels as place mats. Now the true story of the network struggles, lost episodes, and controversial casting can be told....
" [Few people know that] Walt Disney played the director in the Vitameatavegimin episode, filling a role written for Gale Gordon. In 1956, CBS, indignant at Arnaz and Ball's lavish spending and public marital difficulties, refused to renew their contracts. Network executives hastily retitled the show _Fred and Ethel_; comedian Bill Dana was hired to appear as Ricky Ricardo's brother, Cesar, while a then-unknown Barbara Eden played Lucy Ricardo's cousin Millie. The revamped show ran for two months until a deal was struck with Desilu to return to the previous format.
In 1957, another casting changed was neccesary when William Frawley quit the show in a salary dispute after learning that costar Vivian Vance earned nearly twice his $4000 per show wage. Forswearing show business forever, Frawley entered the rapidly-expanding automobile rental field, naming his new company Mertz Rent-a-Car. The name changed to Hertz after Desilu threatened a lawsuit. Paul Lynde was quietly cast as Fred Mertz's cousin, Ted; it was explained that he'd moved in with Ethel to keep her company while Fred went on a round-the-world trip he'd won in a radio contest
The aging emperor Hirohito was an obssessive fan of the show. In 1954, he offered Arnaz one billion yen to write him into the continuity. He appeared in four episodes that year as Hip Sung, the Ricardos' oriental houseboy.These scenes were removed from all syndication prints of the program.But many prints retain the scenes in which Mao Tse-Tung played Danny, a busboy at Club Babalu. [Presumably where he coined his "Hey, Fred!" catch phrase.] This was followed by the rather unfortunate guest appearance by Nikita Kruschev as Ricky's great grand-uncle Nicky, who playfully waves his shoes in front of Little Ricky. The Russian dignitary's constant mugging garnered the disapproval of the regular cast, and led to his blacklisting from all Hollywood sitcoms thereafter.
In an attempt to improve ratings, networks suits insisted that Desilu introduce Lucy's vampish twin sister Moosey, who was after Ricky and almost became the club headliner. Since Desilu's budget couldn't afford the technology adn camera tricks to make Lucy appear next to herself, a life-size cardboard cut-out of a brunette Lucille Ball in a black strapless evening gown was created, with the voice dubbed by June Foray and moving lips courtesy of Cambria's brilliant techniques.
As the show neared its final episode, Arnaz became concerned that CBS intended to continue it with different performers. (His fretting was justified; the network had approached Burgess Meredith and Jayne Meadows to play Ricky and Lucy.) Arnaz instructed the scriptwriters of the final episode to end it in a manner that would ensure that the program would not be continued. Bolivian drug smugglers burst into the Ricardos' Connecticut home, slaughtering them and the Mertzes in a bloodbath whose graphic intensity was unknown in American television of the time. Arnaz's ruse worked perfectly, and for years afterwards it was used to end other situation comedies, including Bewitched, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and Family Affair."
So now you know.... the rest of the story. Good day!