50th anniversary of ‘The Lucy Show’: What you probably don't know about Lucy’s other show

Yahoo Contributor Network

She may be best remembered for the 1950s sitcom, "I Love Lucy," but Lucille Ball had another long-running show! Oct. 1 marks the 50th anniversary of "The Lucy Show," the CBS sitcom that starred the wacky redhead as a single mom without her dashing Desi by her side.

Here's everything you need to know about Lucy's "other" show.

It was based on a book about a divorcee

Lucille Ball played a widow named Lucy Carmichael on "The Lucy Show," but the series was actually based on the 1961 book, "Life Without George," Irene Kampen's account of life as a divorced woman with children. While early-television network execs shied away from making lead character Lucy a divorcee, they did give the green light to portray her character's best friend, Vivian Bagley, as a divorced mom of one. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, the character of Viv was television's first divorced mom.

Vivian Vance wasn't a shoe-in

Although the women were close friends in real life, actress Vivian Vance didn't always love playing second fiddle to Lucy. Tired of being known as frumpy Ethel from "I Love Lucy," Vance had a few demands before she agreed to sign on to "The Lucy Show." The actress stipulated that her character was to be named "Vivian," and that she would be allowed to dress in attractive outfits like Lucy.

The show had several opening themes

Unlike "I Love Lucy," Lucille Ball's second sitcom utilized a different opening theme for each season. The theme music for all six seasons was composed by "I Love Lucy" composer Wilbur Hatch, while the six openings ranged from animated stick figures of the show's stars to a "kaleidoscope"-style opening sequence that featured footage from previous seasons. You can see the show's most recognized opening here.

Candy Moore was Candy-O

Teen actress Candy Moore played Lucy's wholesome, blonde daughter, Chris, on the show. But a decade after "The Lucy Show" went off the air, Moore posed for the sexy cover of the 1979 Cars album, "Candy-O." Legendary pin-up artist Alberto Vargas painted the album's cover portrait of Moore sprawled on top of the hood of a Ferrari. You can see the iconic album cover here.

It was a family affair

Look closely and you can see Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's daughter, Lucie Arnaz, in several episodes of the series. Eleven-year-old Lucie played Cynthia, the teen BFF of Chris in the episodes "Lucy Is a Soda Jerk" and "Lucy Is a Chaperone." A few years later, a then-teen Arnaz played her mom's friend, Dottie, in the episode "Lucy and Robert Goulet." According to Everything Lucy, that's Lucille Ball's real-life mom, Dede Ball, as well as young Lucie and Desi Jr., sitting on the bleachers behind Lucy in the 1965 episode "Lucy at Marineland."

The guest stars didn't always shine

"The Lucy Show" was famous for landing big-name guest stars. Dean Martin and Carol Burnett turned up on the show, and Lucy's old "I Love Lucy" co-star, William Frawley, even made a cameo. But one of the most infamous guest spots was by Joan Crawford in the episode "Lucy and the Lost Star." According to TV Party, Lucille Ball allegedly caught Crawford drinking vodka from a flask during rehearsals and promptly threatened to fire her. In the book "Lucy in the Afternoon," Ball later went on record as saying that working with Crawford was one of her worst experiences on the show.

The show ended an Emmy drought for Lucille

Eleven years after her Emmy win for "I Love Lucy," Lucille Ball won back to back Emmys for her work on "The Lucy Show," nabbing the Outstanding Comedy Actress category in 1967 and 1968. "I just didn't expect it…it's been a long, long time," she said in her speech. Watch Lucille's shocked reaction here, when she realizes she beat out "Bewitched" stars Elizabeth Montgomery and Agnes Moorehead, and "That Girl" star Marlo Thomas for the 1967 Emmy.

The original cast didn't last

In 1965, Vivian Vance left the show so she could spend more time with her husband on the East Coast. Her departure spawned an entire sequence of changes to "The Lucy Show," and soon the Lucy character lost all of her closest "family" members: Viv moved out to get married, Chris went off to college in California, and Lucy's son on the show, Jerry, was shipped off to military school. Legendary character actor Charles Lane appeared in the show's first season as cranky Mr. Barnsdahl, Lucy's banker, but he was replaced in the second season by Gale Gordon, who joined the cast as pompous bank exec Mr. Mooney.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of "The Lucy Show," check out the classic episode, "Lucy and Viv Put in a Shower," here.

More from this contributor:

10 TV Moments That Channeled Marilyn Monroe

10 Things You Don't Know About 'Mad Men'

50th Anniversary of 'The Beverly Hillbillies'

View Comments