Lucy, Desi And TV History

Comedy legend Lucille Ball was born and spent her formative years in Jamestown, New York. This city is just over five hours from my home and an ideal destination for a long weekend. I told you yesterday that I had ran away from home. This is where I went.

The city offers a trail of Lucy attractions including murals, homes she lived in, a museum and her final resting place. I grew up watching her and have a soft spot for the I Love Lucy tv show. My adventure these last few days took me on a road trip to Jamestown and a few other points between here and there.

Honestly, there’s so much to share that I really don’t know where to start so I’ll begin at what was the beginning for me.

The casual observer likely doesn’t know the many ways I Love Lucy was groundbreaking when it was created in the fifties but it’s important because the influences can still be felt in television production today.

Lucy and her husband Desi Arnaz took a smaller salary in exchange for ownership of the show. They weren’t just paid actors. They were gambling on themselves and their ability to make money off the show they owned.

Television was still quite primitive when they premiered in 1951 and the film used wasn’t very good. Desi demanded that they use a higher grade of film and that the show be filmed in front of a live studio audience. This created some very specific problems to be solved – especially with regard to scheduling and the large space needed for the various sets that were needed.

They wanted to create a sense of reality to the show that you can’t achieve with the single camera typically used at the time so they began using three cameras to capture the live action of the actors from different angles. Desi even had a new kind of film editing machine created and invented the rerun. Desi invented the concept of syndication still used for shows today. Even today, the money is in the syndication rights.

In this country, many doors were closed to Hispanic people and it was extraordinary for this Cuban man to be married to a white woman on television. What was more extraordinary was how enthusiastically American audiences embraced this unlikely couple.

This was also the first show to feature a pregnant woman in the storyline. That alone was groundbreaking.

In short, their contributions to the development of television entertainment and culture were extraordinary.

Why do I know all this?

Well, I basically fell down a rabbit hole a few months ago and only climbed up for air by visiting Jamestown this week. You see, I picked up the I Love Lucy series on dvd for cheap at Christmas and have spent the last few months watching the series in order.

Along the way, I supplemented with some YouTube interviews, watched the 50th anniversary special, and read some articles as well as Lucy’s autobiography.

This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands.

By the time I made it to Jamestown I was well informed and completely nerded out over museum items and the whole darn experience.

This week we’ll talk about the museum and take a tour of Jamestown! Stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “Lucy, Desi And TV History

  1. And you just told me you needed more free time.😉🙂 It’s fun to get sucked into rabbit holes, isn’t it? Sort of the story of my life.

    Thanks for sharing all the ways this couple was breaking new ground in the TV industry.

    • Lol. Let me rephrase- I need more vacation time to go wandering around. Lucy and company can be enjoyed from my armchair in 30 minute increments after work. Lol. I’m glad you enjoyed their story. There’s more to come so I hope you like Lucy. 😉

  2. Pingback: Seventy Years Of Lucy | Make the Journey Fun

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