Lucy Ricardo: The Redhead Who Will Never Die

What is it about Lucy and Ricky Ricardo that has endured for more than half a century of television history? Read on for some thoughts on the celluloid mystique of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

It is so odd that with the phenomenon known as television reruns, I Love Lucy, filmed more than half a century ago, is so much a part of every day television viewing that it can be considered pop culture. Did you know that almost every minute of every day somewhere in the world an I Love Lucy rerun is playing? Surely there are few faces more recognizable than the zany, big-eyed redhead who will do anything to get into show business and her debonair, band-leader husband who will do anything to keep her out.

Who could ever forget the episode where she gets locked in the freezer or the one in which she and an Italian peasant woman fight it out in a vat of grapes? The antics are hilarious, the timing brilliant and the laughs as powerful today as they were when the show first aired in, would you believe it, 1951.

Desi Arnaz, the conga drummer and Lucille Ball, the tall redhead, met on the movie set of Too Many Girls in 1940 and fell madly in love. Their sexual tension smoldered across the silvery screen, albeit respectfully, quietly and tastefully. In those early years of television, no one ever heard a toilet flush or saw a couple in bed together under the covers. Lucy and Ricky had separate beds and matching pajamas. Still, there was always magic, a longing between them that no school of acting could have produced, had it not been really there.

Lucy and Ricky Ricardo were much happier than Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, as their celluloid challenges were not as heartbreaking as the ones they faced in real life. Even though their marriage ended in divorce in 1957 due to Arnaz’s frequent affairs, she always referred to him as “the love of her life.” The Lucy-Desi chemistry is unparalleled in television history, and perhaps it will never really be known exactly why.

In 1996, at 212 Pine Street in Jamestown, New York, the Lucy-Desi Museum first opened its doors. Since its inception, more than 60,000 fans have visited. Here one can almost touch the person who was the icon and vice versa. Her wedding gown is on display here as well as a hairbrush that holds some of her red hair. There are also the more mundane, expected museumy things, like a portrait of her mother, a Little Ricky outfit, many family photos and newspaper clippings covering her occasional return visits home.

The gift shop offers a myriad of wonderful Lucy things for sale, including a Dancing Ricardos Tote Bag, an I Love Lucy Heart Organizer, Baby Lucy’s Checkbook Cover and a Lucy Logo Faux Black Leather Purse.

Her childhood home at 59 West Lucy Lane, which was originally owned by her grandparents, may soon become an annex to the museum. For a close encounter of another, very special kind, come and visit the unique Lucy-Desi Museum in Jamestown, New York.

What are some of YOUR favorite I Love Lucy episodes?

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About Marjorie Dorfman

Marjorie Dorfman is a freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of New York University School of Education, she now lives in Doylestown, PA, with quite a few cats that keep her on her toes at all times. Originally a writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non-fiction writing in the last decade. Many of her stories have been published in various small presses throughout the country during the last twenty years. Her book of stories, "Tales For A Dark And Rainy Night", reflects her love and respect for the horror and ghost genre.