Lucille Ball is such an icon today that it's hard to believe it took her almost 20 years to find her footing after she started in showbiz. She spent the '30s and '40s playing bit parts in B-movies, getting fired from stage shows and going to auditions -- even trying out for the role of Scarlett in "Gone with the Wind." It wasn't until the '50s that she became a huge star, however, paving the way for her legacy as one of the most beloved stars in TV history.
It was 1948 when Lucy landed a role as Liz Cugat on the radio series "My Favorite Husband." The show was such a hit that CBS asked Ball to bring the show to TV. While Lucy was ready for the opportunity, she made one demand; rather than co-starring with radio hubby Richard Denning, she wanted real-life husband Desi Arnaz to play her onscreen spouse.
Of course, this was the start of the '50s, so the network balked at the idea of Ball starring opposite a foreign husband, fearing that audiences wouldn't find the pairing believable. Fortunately, Lucy got her way, and "I Love Lucy" premiered in 1951. Though she and Desi divorced by the end of the decade, their story lives on in countless reruns, which air every day all over the world.
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Do you poop out at parties? Are you unpopular? Maybe your problem is a lack of alcohol. In "Lucy Does a TV Commercial," Lucy promotes a product known as Vitameatavegain. Too bad it's more than 20 percent alcohol, leaving Lucy too drunk to finally achieve the stardom she so desperately dreamed of.
In the season two episode "Lucy is Enceinte," the Ricardos welcome a baby boy. The 1952 episode featured a very pregnant Lucy, but the p word wasn't uttered even once.
After they were scammed by the store's former owners, Lucy and Ethel purchase a small dress shop in the season three episode "The Girls Go Into Business." Turns out, sales aren't so hot, and it takes some scheming for the pair to get out of the deal.
A pair of season three episodes focused on a visit by Tennessee Ernie Ford. The actor and singer guest-starred as Lucy's mother's friend's college roommate's cousin's middle boy -- who got settled in with the Ricardos and refused to leave.
When Lucy and Ethel argue with Fred and Ricky about who has the tougher job, they duos decide to switch roles. In the season two episode "Job Switching," it's up to Fred and Ricky to keep house while the girls try and fail to succeed in the chocolate-making business.
In the season five premiere, the Ricardos and Mertzes visit Grauman's Theater in Hollywood. Noticing a loose concrete slab containing John Wayne's footprints, Lucy comes up with a crazy scheme to take the slab home.
Ricky finally hits the big time in season four when he lands a starring role as Don Juan. After the family moves to the west coast, things go south with the episode "Don Juan Gets Shelved."
On a bus tour of star's homes in season four, Lucy can't resist getting off the bus and launching herself over the fence at Richard Widmark's house. She pockets a grapefruit, then has trouble finding her way back over the fence to freedom.
In the season three episode "Lucy Writes a Novel," Lucy plans to hit it big with her book "The Real Gone with the Wind." Unfortunately, her family and friends don't like the way they're portrayed in the story, so they plan to sue her to stop it from being published.
Lucy is dreaming of getting one of those "new Italian haircuts," so she borrows a wig from her hairdresser in "The Black Wig" in season three. Hoping to test Ricky's loyalty, she pretends to be a big fan of his, but Ricky sees right through the disguise.
When Lucy is picked to star in a movie in the season five episode "Lucy's Italian Movie." She decides to settle into the Italian lifestyle by taking on a job stomping grapes at a vineyard. She ends up getting into a fight with an Italian woman and both are left covered in the fruit.
In the season four episode "L.A. At Last," Lucy is over the moon to finally be in Hollywood. In hopes of running into celebrities, she hangs out at the Brown Derby, where she ends up smacking William Holden in the face with a pie.
On their way to Hollywood in season four, the Ricardos and Mertzes end up at George Skinners cafe. Sadly, the only thing on the menu is some sad cheese sandwiches. Stuck spending the night in some adjacent cabins, the group is forced to buy their own car steering wheel back after Skinner steals it.
The close friends end up in court after a TV-related battle in the season two episode "The Courtroom." After the Ricardos buy the Mertzes a TV for their anniversary, the tube ends up getting blown, prompting Fred to go destroy the Ricardos' TV too.
No one is crazy about Little Ricky getting a dog in season six, least of all the landlords. Things soften up a bit when Little Ricky names the dog Fred after his favorite "uncle."
Little Ricky has his heart set on inviting Superman to his fifth birthday party in season six. Lucy dresses up as the caped crusader, but ends up locked outside on a ledge -- prompting the real Superman, played by George Reeves, to rescue her.
During their time in California, the girls end up fighting with their husbands. Eager to get away, they head to the desert in the episode "In Palm Springs," where they meet actor Rock Hudson.
When Lucy's old friend Carolyn Appleby comes to visit her in California, she expects to meet all of the celebrities that Lucy is claiming to be good friends with. To cover up her lies, Lucy dresses up as stars like Clark Gable and Harpo Marx -- which goes just fine until the real Harpo Marx shows up.
In the final episode of the series, the Ricardos are set to dedicate a new Revolutionary War statue in Westport. Of course, Lucy ends up breaking it, and has to cover herself in clay to pretend to be the statue.
In the season five episode "The Passports," Lucy's hometown of Jamestown has no record of her birth. She plans to sneak to Europe with Ricky by hiding in a trunk, but ends up trapped inside in true Lucy fashion.
Lucy is known for stretching the truth to get her way. When pretending she can speak Italian in the season three episode "Lucy Tells the Truth, she unwittingly ends up on the wrong end of a knife-throwing act.
No one believes Lucy in "The Black Eye" when she claims her injury occurred after she was hit by a book. Things get even worse when Fred sends her flowers, but accidentally signs his own name instead of Ricky's.
After Lucy asks for a dishwasher in the season one episode "Pioneer Women," Ricky bets her she couldn't live like women did in the past. As she tries to survive like her ancestors, Lucy attempts to bake bread -- and ends up with a loaf larger than the kitchen table.
As Lucy and Ethel struggle with candy making in the season two episode, the men are left home to mind the apartments. Fred starches the stockings while Ricky cooks just a little too much rice and ends up flooding the kitchen with carbs.
The season two episode "Lucy Goes to the Hospital" aired the same day Lucy gave birth to her son Desi Arnaz Jr. On the episode, Ricky rushes straight to the hospital from a show, complete with a truly crazy voodoo costume.
The season three episode "The Million-Dollar Idea" has Lucy and Ethel selling Aunt Martha's Old-Fashioned Salad Dressing. While they get plenty of orders, some bad accounting means that they still end up in the red.
On the season three episode "Sentimental Anniversary," Ricky and Lucy are hoping to spend their 13th anniversary alone together. When they learn that Fred and Ethel plan to throw them a surprise party, they hide in the closet to enjoy some alone time.
When Ricky gets sick of show biz, the couples decide to open a hamburger stand in the season three episode "The Diner." A road detour takes away customers, and the Mertzes get sick of doing all the cooking, leaving tempers flaring among the two couples.
A bored Lucy twice calls Ricky home from work, claiming burglars are trying to break into the apartment. The third time, Lucy is actually tied up by a pair of thieves, but no one believes her in the season four episode "Lucy Cries Wolf."
The Ricardos and Mertzes travel cross-country via train in season five on "The Great Train Robbery" episode. As they are heading home from California, a jewel thief hops on the train. In her efforts to catch the thief, Lucy has a bad habit of repeatedly pulling the emergency brake, grinding the train to a halt.
In the season five episode "Lucy Goes to Scotland," the Ricardos head to a village in Scotland -- one that has a bad habit of sacrificing a McGillicuddy to a dragon. It's up to Ricky Scotty McTavish McDougal McCardo to rescue the poor maiden from certain death.
In the season six premiere, Lucy has big plans to get Bob Hope to appear in Ricky's show. She dresses up as a player and a hot dog vendor as she tries to catch Hope's eye during a trip to Yankee Stadium.
The Ricardos' neighbors, including the Mertzes', aren't exactly thrilled when Little Ricky takes up drumming in a season six episode.
In the season six episode "Lucy and the Loving Cup," Ricky has been tasked with presenting a giant trophy to a winning jockey. Things go off the rails when Lucy manages to get the trophy stuck on her head instead.
Lucy finally tires of living in New York City in season six. In the episode "Lucy Wants to Move to the Country," the family moves to a new home in Westport, Connecticut.
In season four, an episode called "Ethel's Home Town" reveals that Mrs. Mertz hails from Albuquerque. Things go awry for Ethel when she and the gang stop by her home town, however, because Ethel has told all her old friends that she has made it big in show biz -- which isn't quite the truth.
Eager to enjoy some outdoor meals, Lucy and Ethel join forces to build a brick barbecue in the season six episode "Building a BBQ." Unfortunately, Lucy realizes that she has lost her wedding ring during the process, prompting her and Ethel to then destroy their creation in an attempt to find the ring.
The first episode of "I Love Lucy" is called "The Girls Want to go to a Nightclub." It features Lucy and Ethel trying to convince the boys to go to the Copacabana, when all Ricky and Fred want to do is see the fights.
In a season one episode called "The Diet," Ricky points out that Lucy has picked up a few pounds. He promises her that she can be in his show if she can fit into a size 12 -- imagine that story line trying to fly today....
In the season one episode "Men Are Messy," Lucy is frustrated by Ricky's failure to pick up after himself. She divides the apartment into two halves with tape -- which works fine until a photographer comes to take pictures for a magazine article!