Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Lucy Show (1962)


Five years after their iconic sit-com classic I Love Lucy left the air on top of the ratings, Lucille Ball and her now ex-husband but still business partner Desi Arnaz, Jr. needed a leverage tool to save their flagging Desilu Studios. Several of their programs had recently been canceled, leaving them with only The Untouchables as a legitimate hit series. But they needed something else to coerce CBS to back some of their upcoming projects, so Arnaz persuaded Ball to return to television on what would become The Lucy Show in the fall of 1962. Despite CBS being initially uncertain that Ball could carry the show alone without Arnaz, all the parties eventually agreed to the new series, which would costar Ball's I Love Lucy friend Vivian Vance (who insisted that her character be named Vivian so that she could escape the shadow of Ethel Mertz), be aired on Monday evening (the same evening I Love Lucy ran), and would include four of the five scriptwriters from the old series, Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Davis, Bob Schiller, and Bob Weiskopf. However, since Ball and Arnaz had sold all their rights to I Love Lucy back to CBS to fund the creation of Desilu Studios, they had to tread lightly to avoid infringing on CBS' purchase, so Arnaz bought the rights to Irene Krampen's novel Life Without George about two divorcees living together but decided to have Lucy's character be a widow rather than a divorcee to avoid offending puritanical American audiences. Vance's character, Vivian Bagley, thereby became the first divorced woman as a regular character on an American TV series. Both women came with children--Lucy has a teenage daughter Chris and elementary-school son Jerry, and Vivian has an elementary-school son Sherman. Lucy has inherited a trust fund from her late husband but is not given the power to use it as she pleased, instead having it managed by parsimonious banker Mr. Barnsdahl. Vivian pays room and board to live in Lucy's house, but sometimes has problems when her deadbeat ex-husband is late with the alimony payment. But despite the new wrinkles and window-dressing, the show essentially continues to mine the formula that made I Love Lucy so popular--Lucy repeatedly makes poor decisions and gets into ridiculous amounts of trouble, all played with lots of slapstick. This should not come as a surprise since the show was initially conceived as a stopgap intended to last only one season and had to bank on its biggest asset--America's past love of Lucy's absurd antics. There was no intention of breaking new ground, only borrowing time to get Desilu back on its feet again.

The series' first episode, "Lucy Waits Up for Chris" (October 1, 1962) sets the template for how each show telegraphs how Lucy will get into trouble and resorts to slapstick cornball humor depicting her attempt to get out of it. In this episode Lucy gives permission for Chris to go on a date with a 16-year-old boy who has his own car before remembering how irresponsible she was at that age in the same situation. This kicks in her overprotective mother-hen impulses, at first trying to persuade Chris and her date to stay home and watch a Greta Garbo movie on TV (the first of many such signals that Lucy and Vivian are square and totally out of it), and then embarrassing Chris by rushing out to her boyfriend's car the moment it returns at the end of the evening and dragging Chris inside, not realizing that the boyfriend's parents were chaperoning in the back seat. By the next morning mother and daughter have reconciled, but Lucy now has to prove to Chris that she trusts her by not staying up for her when goes out again that evening. Only, of course, Lucy blows it by dallying around downstairs that evening and then deciding to go into the kitchen for a bite before heading to bed. When Chris comes back with her boyfriend, Lucy panics at the prospect of Chris thinking she is checking up on her, forcing Lucy out the kitchen back door. Needing to get upstairs and into bed before Chris comes up to say goodnight after sending the boyfriend home, Lucy resorts to jumping on a trampoline that just happens to be under Vivian's window, finally vaulting into Vivian's room just before Chris shows up, then having to hide in the closet, pretend to have gone out since Chris didn't find her in her bedroom, having to jump back out the window, etc., all to maintain the pretence that she wasn't waiting up for Chris. It's not a stretch to say that the entirety of every episode is a setup for Lucy to get into a humiliating predicament that involves old-school slapstick absurdity.

In the second episode, "Lucy Digs Up a Date" (October 8, 1962), Lucy wants to go on a date with Jerry's substitute math teacher but is afraid to ask him until she is certain he is not married, so she and Vivian devise an elaborate ruse to get his driver's license away from him to check his marital status (apparently this was a category on 1960s California drivers licenses, but The Lucy Show is set in New York), then neglect to replace the license in his jacket before he leaves, which leads to another series of zany adventures trying to replace it in his room at the Y with Lucy finally putting on his fencing outfit to avoid being identified when she is caught in his room. Lucy follows this up in subsequent episodes by volunteering to referee her son's football game, though she knows nothing about football, buying a sheep because she is tired of mowing her lawn, accidentally volunteering herself and Vivian to participate in a NASA simulation of sending women into space, trying to install a new TV antenna on her roof because she is too cheap to pay a professional to do it, and trying to install wood paneling in the basement to convert it to a rumpus room only to get herself and Vivian stuck to the walls with the super-adhesive glue. All of these pratfalls hearken back to the days of silent comedy, a fact emphasized most blatantly in the final 1962 episode "Chris' New Year's Eve Party" (December 31, 1962) in which Chris insists on hosting her own New Year's Eve party for her friends without her mother's help to show that she is grown up. But when the party falls flat, next door neighbor Harry Conners sends Vivian's sometime boyfriend Eddie Collins to the restaurant where the mothers are spending the evening with their boys to summon them back to save the party. This provides Lucy with the chance she has been wanting all along to show off her Charlie Chaplin impression in a silent sketch in which Vivian also plays a broke flapper looking for someone to pick up her check. Dick Martin, who played Conners in 10 Season 1 episodes, commented in an interview years later that Ball and Vance were basically doing a female version of Laurel & Hardy, with Lucy continually getting Vivian into "another fine mess." Again, The Lucy Show was designed to exploit an older style of comedy that had proven effective in the past as the safest way to tap into a majority audience that preferred the familiar rather than anything new and challenging.

Not only is the brand of humor boldly "retro," but as mentioned earlier, the characters of Lucy and Vivian frequently comment on how behind the times they are, seeming to revel in their squareness. In "Lucy Is a Referee" Lucy teases Chris about her latest celebrity crush, Frankie Avalon, and points out that only a week ago it was Ricky Nelson, while Vivian comments that she has no idea who either of those two people are and sometimes thinks the world is just passing them by, though she then adds that most kids these days probably don't know who Skinnay Ennis was. In "Lucy the Music Lover" (November 19, 1962), Lucy is slightly embarrassed when Chris asks her to go to the record store to get her the latest Bobby Darin record after earlier admitting to Vivian that her musical tastes run more toward Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra. In "Lucy Puts Up a TV Antenna" (November 26, 1962), Lucy and Vivian try to get the kids to sing songs with them when the TV goes on the fritz, but while the mothers suggest songs like "Down by the Old Mill Stream" and "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie," the kids want to sing the latest pop hits "Ahab the Arab" and "Papa Oom Mow Mow." In other words, the show's writers are trying to play the developing "generation gap" for laughs. And finally in "Chris' New Year's Eve Party" when Lucy and Vivian take Jerry and Sherman out to dinner on New Year's Eve so that Chris has the house to herself for her party, the mothers try to get their young sons to dance with them after dinner, calling them to the floor during a foxtrot but then find themselves out of their element when the next number switches to The Watusi, with the younger boys having to show their mothers how it's done. While including the children characters on The Lucy Show seems a blatant attempt to rope in a younger demographic than was captured during the heyday of I Love Lucy, the star characters remain adamantly rooted in old-school entertainment. And given how popular the series turned out to be, finishing in the top 5 of the Nielsen ratings during its first season, it appears American audiences were more entertained by the old and familiar than the new and different, perhaps a key reason why the series eventually jettisoned the children characters and continued with the old reliables for 6 successful seasons, all of them top 10 rated. While Lucille Ball may have been a trailblazer in female comedy, part of the Desilu team that pioneered the use of the 3-camera setup in filming before a live studio audience, and the first female head of a major studio, when it came to the content of her comedies, she tacked hard to the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The music for The Lucy Show was provided by Wilbur Hatch, a long-time Desilu contributor who first worked with Lucille Ball on radio. Hatch was born May 24,1902 in Mokena, Illinois and was considered something of a child prodigy encouraged by his musician father into giving his first recital at age 6. But he attended the University of Chicago as a chemical engineering student, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, though he considered the highpoint of his college career getting to compose the music for the annual Backfriar's theatrical production. After college Hatch led his own orchestra but after a year decided to pursue a career in radio, getting hired to play piano on KYW in Chicago. By 1930 he had relocated to Los Angeles, where he became director of music on KNX and worked for CBS Radio working his way up to musical director and working on such programs as The General Electric Theater, December Bride, Our Miss Brooks, The Whistler, Suspense, Broadway Is My Beat, and My Favorite Husband, which at the time starred Lucille Ball. From that time onward, Hatch would be the go-to music man for all of Ball's endeavors. However, it was not to be his only work: his tenure on The Whistler led to contributing to many of The Whistler feature films in the 1940s and the TV series that followed in 1954-55. Likewise, his work on the radio versions of Our Miss Brooks and December Bride (which both became Desilu TV productions) led to music director and conductor roles, respectively, on those two series as well. When I Love Lucy was launched in 1951, Hatch was on board as musical director and conductor, too,  which continued with The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour that followed. In the 5 year gap between the end of I Love Lucy and the start of The Lucy Show, Hatch did not rack up many credits except composing music for 7 episodes of The Twilight Zone from 1960-62. He was also conductor for the December Bride spinoff TV series Pete and Gladys from 1960-62, and served as musical supervisor on The Untouchables while Nelson Riddle provided the music itself. When The Lucy Show launched in fall 1962, Hatch was again musical director throughout the series duration and continued in that capacity to its successor Here's Lucy beginning in 1968.

He also found occasional work conducting on series such as Gunsmoke and Have Gun -- Will Travel, served as music supervisor occasionally on The Greatest Show on Earth and Vacation Playhouse, and was a music consultant on Desilu-funded Star Trek as well as Mission: Impossible during its first season. When The Mothers-in-Law launched in 1968, yet another Desilu production, he served as conductor and musical supervisor as usual. He died of unspecified causes on December 22, 1969 at the age of 67.

The complete series has been released on DVD by CBS/Paramount Home Video.

The Actors

For the biography of Candy Moore, see the 1962 post on The Donna Reed Show.

Lucille Ball

Lucille Desiree Ball was born August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Though her ancestors included some of the earliest colonists of this country, her father was a lineman for Bell Telephone whose job required the family to move often. He died from typhoid fever when she was only 3 years old, and her mother moved the family back to Celeron, New York where Lucy and her just-born brother Fred were raised by her mother's parents until her mother remarried and the young children were placed with her stepfather's puritanical Swedish parents, who scolded her for being vain when they caught her looking at herself in the bathroom mirror. But at age 12 her stepfather encouraged her to audition for a chorus girl part in a Shriner's production, where she learned for the first time that she enjoyed the attention given to entertainers. When she was 15 her mother enrolled her in the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City as a way to get her away from her older hoodlum boyfriend. However, her instructors did not think highly of her prospects in entertainment, but Ball was determined to prove them wrong and supplemented what little acting work she could find by modeling for Hattie Carnegie. After a bout of rheumatic fever made her unable to work for two years, she returned to New York in 1932 to work again for Carnegie and Chesterfield cigarettes, but she had trouble keeping chorus girl parts on Broadway. Luckily, a poster of her modeling work caught the attention of Hollywood movie studios and she was brought west to appear in Roman Scandals in 1933. Though she found more work in Hollywood than she ever had on Broadway, her parts were small and uncredited in films such as Moulin Rouge, Roberta, and Top Hat until she finally scored her first credited part in 1935 in I Dream Too Much, starring Henry Fonda, whose daughter Jane years later said that he fell madly in love with Ball. Thereafter she began getting regular credited but minor supporting roles in notable films such as Follow the Fleet with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Stage Door again with Rogers and Katherine Hepburn, and Room Service  with the Marx Brothers. She augmented her film work by branching out into radio, first on The Phil Baker Show and then on The Wonder Show, where she first met future co-star Gale Gordon. In 1936 it was announced that she was engaged to fellow actor Broderick Crawford, but it is believed that this was an RKO Studios diversion to hide her alleged affair with married producer Pandro S. Berman. She began getting leading roles in B movies such as Go Chase Yourself and The Affairs of Annabel, but when she auditioned for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind she lost out to Vivien Leigh. Then she was cast opposite Richard Carlson in 1940's Too Many Girls, where she first met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, Jr. who had a supporting role in the film. Though he reportedly was not too taken with her the first time he saw her as she was made up for a fight scene in another film, Dance, Girl, Dance, including a black eye, later in the day when he saw her in her normal makeup he is said to have remarked, "That's a hunk o' woman." They eloped and were married in November of that year. Lucy then moved over to MGM Studios and began getting more prominent roles in films such as Du Barry Was a Lady, Best Foot Forward, and Lover Come Back. But her marriage to Arnaz was rocky because of their disparate schedules with him always being on the road with his band while she was stuck in Hollywood working on her film career. Adding to her distress was his reputation as a womanizer. So when CBS approached her to adapt her successful radio program My Favorite Husband, in which she played a zany housewife, for television, she attempted to use her leverage to help save her marriage (she had initially filed for divorce in 1944 but then reconciled) by insisting that Arnaz be cast as her on-screen husband for the new TV series. CBS did not think the American viewing audience would accept a red-haired white woman married to a Cuban man, and they were not impressed with the pilot episode, so Lucy and Desi took their show on the road vaudeville style to prove that audiences would indeed accept their brand of comedy. CBS finally relented and put I Love Lucy on the air in 1951. Lucy and Desi also wisely stipulated in their initial deal that their production company Desilu would retain rights to all the episodes after their first airing. By the time the show went off the air six seasons later as the top-rated show in television, they were able to sell those rights back to CBS for $1million, which allowed them to buy the old RKO Studios lot and launch Desilu Studios, where many 1950s and 1960s TV shows were filmed. They also revisited their iconic series in the occasionally scheduled Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, which ran 13 episodes between 1957-60. But despite their great business success, their marriage could not endure, and Ball again filed for divorce and this time went through with it in 1960. After trying her hand at Broadway in the musical Wildcat in 1960, which had to close when she contracted a virus she could not seem to shake, and appearing with Bob Hope in the 1960 feature film The Facts of Life, Ball was willing to dive back into television by 1962 with The Lucy Show. That same year Arnaz decided he wanted to retire from the entertainment business and sold his interest in Desilu to Lucy, making her the first female head of a film studio. In the meantime, she had remarried to stand-up comedian Gary Morton, 13 years her junior. During this time she also befriended young comedienne Carol Burnett, whom she helped to mentor and always commemorated Burnett's birthday by sending her flowers, a tradition she kept until literally the day she died.

While her new series was an instant hit and ranked in the top 10 of the ratings for its entire 6-year run, the September 29, 1962 TV Guide cover story by Edith Efron depicts Lucy as still smarting from her marriage to Arnaz. Lucy tries to tell Efron she could have been happy as a homemaker and even says that women had it better when they weren't pursuing careers outside the home, but Efron then points out that this is Lucy's fantasy because she pursued a career in show business from the time she was 16 and by this point was wealthy enough that she could afford to retire to a home life if she really wanted it. Efron quotes one anonymous friend of Lucy's as saying that despite what she displays to the public she has hidden the warm part of herself very deep so that she can never be hurt again the way she was by Arnaz. While managing Desilu, Ball helped produce such popular TV programs as The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek. She was advised not to produce the latter series because it would bankrupt Desilu, which it eventually did. She sold Desilu for $17 million in 1967, after which it was merged into Paramount Studios. After six seasons of The Lucy Show, Ball canceled it and immediately started yet another sit-com starring herself, Here's Lucy, still with good friend Gale Gordon, but this time co-starring her biological children Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. The series was another top 10 hit for Ball and ran for the customary six seasons before ending in 1974, the same year she played the title role in the feature film musical Mame. She continued to work almost to the day she died, appearing mostly in TV movies in the 1980s, with one last attempt at a series in 1986's Life With Lucy in which she played a grandmother but which was canceled after just 13 episodes. Three years later she died of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 77. In her lifetime and posthumously she has received just about every type of award an entertainer could desire (except perhaps an Oscar): multiple Emmys, including a lifetime achievement Governors Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom and two postage stamps. She appeared on the cover of TV Guide a record 39 times, including the initial issue, and was voted by the magazine as The Greatest TV Star of All Time. Not bad for a woman whose first acting instructors told her she would never make it.

Vivian Vance

Vivian Roberta Jones was born July 26, 1909 in Cherryvale, Kansas, one of six children. When she was 6 years old, the family moved to Independence, Kansas where Vance developed a love of acting during high school while performing in dramatic productions. However, her strictly religious mother did not approve of her career ambition, but the rebellious Vance would sneak out of the family home and stay out after curfew to pursue her career. During this time she worked with future Pulitzer Prize winner William Inge. In 1925 she made her film debut in the silent boxing movie The Patent Leather Pug, though little is known about this film which has since been lost. She married for the first time to Joseph Shearer Danneck, Jr. in 1928 at age 19 but divorced him less than 3 years later. After high school, she changed her last name to Vance in honor of a supportive member of her Independence theatre circle and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she became a charter member of the Albuquerque Little Theatre in 1930. She was so highly regarded for her performances there that a benefit was held to fund her move to New York, where she studied under Eva Le Gallianne. However, her career in the New York theater world took some time to get off the ground. Initially she appeared only in choruses, including her 1932 Broadway debut in Music in the Air. She was the understudy for Ethel Merman in Anything Goes but years later complained that Merman was too healthy, never missing a show in 5 years. She married a second time to George Nathan Koch in 1933, divorcing him in 1940. She landed her first starring Broadway role as a last-minute replacement for Kay Thompson in Hooray for What! in 1937 playing opposite Ed Wynn. After appearing with Philip Ober in Kiss the Boys Goodbye, the two were married in 1941, the same year she appeared opposite Danny Kaye in Let's Face It, which she left to appear in a North African production of Over 21 put on in support of the troops stationed there during World War II. In 1945 while performing in a touring version of The Voice of the Turtle, she suffered a nervous breakdown that nearly ended her career. Thereafter she became a spokesperson for mental health issues and later served on the board of the National Mental Health Association. By 1947 she decided to leave New York and the stage for the west coast and work in film, but managed only two credits, in The Secret Fury in 1950 and The Blue Veil in 1951 before being cast in a Mel Ferrer production of The Voice of the Turtle at the La Jolla Playhouse that same year. At the same time Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Jr. were casting for their fall debut of I Love Lucy. Ball had initially wanted either of her friends Barbara Pepper or Bea Benaderet for the role of Ethel Mertz, but Arnaz ruled out Pepper because she was an alcoholic and he already had his hands full with William Frawley, and Benaderet was unavailable. So director Marc Daniels, who had worked with Vance in a previous theatrical production, took Arnaz to see Vance performing in The Voice of the Turtle, and Arnaz agreed that she would be perfect for the role of Ethel. Apparently Ball was not initially sold and reportedly treated Vance rudely at their first meeting, but Vance was afterward quoted as telling someone who witnessed the exchange, "If this show's a success, I'm going to learn to love that female dog." The show was not only a success, but the two women became the closest of friends for the rest of their lives. Such was not the case with Vance's on-screen husband Frawley, who was 22 years older than her. Vance reportedly was upset at being cast opposite such an old actor, saying she was young enough to be his daughter, which greatly offended Frawley, and the two, though always professional on the set, were sworn enemies from then on. When Arnaz floated the idea of a spinoff series for the Mertzes after I Love Lucy went off the air, Vance declined, not wanting to work with Frawley so closely, which again angered Frawley. When Vance received word of Frawley's death while dining at a restaurant in 1966, she reportedly exclaimed, "Champagne, for everyone!" For her work on I Love Lucy, Vance received the first-ever Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in 1953 and was nominated three more times. She continued playing Ethel in the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour specials after I Love Lucy retired, and Arnaz tried creating a western sit-com Guestward, Ho! in 1958 starring Vance as a New York socialite who moves to New Mexico to run a hotel, but the series was rejected by CBS, though Arnaz was finally able to get it sold in 1960 with Joanne Dru in the starring role. Vance appeared in a supporting role in the show's first episode, and she had another guest appearance on the western series The Deputy in 1959. She also made occasional appearances as Clara Appleby on The Red Skelton Hour. Meanwhile, Vance divorced husband #3, Ober, in 1959, accusing him of physical abuse out of resentment for her more successful career. She returned to Broadway in 1960 to appear in Here Today, and in 1961 married her fourth and last husband, publisher John Dodds in 1961.

Vance wanted to leave Hollywood, so the couple settled in Stamford, Connecticut, though they would also spend time living in New York due to Dodds' work in the publishing business. When Ball decided to return to TV and sought out Vance as her co-star, Vance reluctantly agreed under two conditions: she would be allowed to dress more elegantly than the frumpy Ethel Mertz, and speaking of which, her character's first name would be Vivian, as Vance had grown weary of always being referred to, on and off set, as Ethel. She once quipped, "When I die, there will be people who send flowers to Ethel Mertz." But despite the show's success, by Season 3, Vance had grown tired of the commute between the east coast and Los Angeles, so she asked for a $500,000 advance, more creative control, and a raise in weekly pay. The show's producers led Ball to believe that Vance was asking for equal billing, so her demands were denied and Vance left the show with ill feeling on both sides. But once Ball and Vance were able to air things out and understand each other, they reconciled, with Ball regretting that Vance was ever let go and Vance returning for a few guest appearances near the end of the series' 6-year run. In the meantime, Vance appeared in Blake Edwards' feature comedy The Great Race in 1965 and returned to the theater to appear in productions of Over 21, The Time of the Cuckoo, Barefoot in the Park, and My Daughter, Your Son in the late 1960s. She made 6 appearances as Vivian Jones on Ball's next sit-com, Here's Lucy, played a medium in a 1969 episode of Love, American Style, and in the 1970s made several TV movies, appeared in more theatrical productions of The Marriage-Go-Round, Butterflies Are Free, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Harvey, and became the commercial spokesman for Maxwell House Coffee playing the character Maxine. In 1973 Vance contracted breast cancer and after a mastectomy and chemotherapy, Vance and Dodd relocated to Belvedere, California to be closer to her sister. Her last TV appearance came in a Ball TV movie Lucy Calls the President in 1977. Later that year she suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed. Her breast cancer returned and metastasized into bone cancer, which finally killed her after one last visit from Ball in August 1979 at the age of 70. She was posthumously given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991, and the Albuquerque Little Theatre, to whom her family donated her Emmy Award, was renamed the Vivian Vance Playhouse.

Jimmy Garrett

James Coleman Garrett was born September 23, 1954 in Los Angeles, and while he has said that his parents never pushed him into show business, he appeared in his first commercial for Bell Telephone in 1956. His first film appearance was a 1959 episode of Playhouse 90, and the following year he played a boy asking Art Carney's Santa Claus for a Christmas turkey dinner on The Twilight Zone. In 1961 he had an uncredited role in the Debbie Reynolds and Andy Griffith feature film The Second Time Around, followed by an appearance in a 1962 episode of Mister Ed. Then he was selected to play the character of Henry in a Desilu pilot of the book Suzuki Beane, which aired on The Victor Borge Comedy Theatre in 1962. Since Garrett was a known quantity to Lucy Show producer Elliott Lewis and Desilu casting director Kerwin Coughlin, he was called in to audition for the part of Jerry Carmichael. When he passed the first round of auditions and was finally able to do a reading with Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance, Ball loved his voice and he was given the part. However, when Vance left the show in 1965, Garrett and the two other children on the series were written out, with his character being sent off to military school.

Garrett's acting career last only one year after leaving The Lucy Show, appearing in single episodes of Burke's Law and My Three Sons in 1965 as well as the feature film Munster, Go Home! in 1966. That same year he also appeared in another unsuccessful pilot for The Carol Channing Show before retiring from acting at age 12. However, he returned to show business as an adult, first as a talent agent for many years and then as a production coordinator, financial coordinator, and production accountant, eventually working for Dick Clark Productions. He has served as production accountant on such TV series as Rockin' New Years Eve, Celebrity Boxing, The Apprentice, America's Next Top Model, Bully Beatdown, and Shark Tank. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Ralph Hart

Ralph William Hart was born May 27, 1952, but very little else is known about him, other than his filmography, which is quite brief. Before being cast as Vivian Vance's son Sherman Bagley on The Lucy Show, he had uncredited roles in the feature films The Music Man, Gypsy, and Two for the Seesaw, all in 1962, and Bye Bye Birdie in 1963. He appeared in 44 episode of The Lucy Show before his character was written out when the show was reformatted for Season 4. He appeared in one 1964 episode of The Outer Limits and two episodes of My Three Sons as Kerwin in 1966 and 1967. After that he left show business for good and as of 1999 was working as a hydro-geologist in California. He appeared once at Lucy Fest in Jamestown, New York in 2008 but otherwise has avoided participating in any Lucy-related events.

Dick Martin

Born in Battle Creek, Michigan on January 22, 1922, Thomas Richard Martin's father was a salesman and his mother was a homemaker. The family moved to Detroit when Martin was a child, and he contracted tuberculosis as a teenager, which resulted in the loss of one of his lungs and kept him out of military service during World War II. After graduating from Michigan State University, Martin and his brother Bob moved to Los Angeles to try to break into show business but met with little success other than an uncredited appearance in Father's Little Dividend in 1951 and writing for the radio comedy Duffy's Tavern. But in 1952 while Martin was working as a bartender, comedian Tommy Noonan introduced him to former used-car salesman Dan Rowan, and the two hit it off immediately and formed their now legendary comedy duo Rowan and Martin. They performed their stand-up routine throughout the nightclub circuit and developed a close relationship with Nat King Cole, opening for him in Lake Tahoe and New York. They made their first television appearance in 1956 on The Walter Winchell Show, and the next year made the first of 9 performances on the highly rated Dinah Shore Chevy Show. Martin married singer Peggy Connelly in 1957, and the couple had two sons before divorcing in 1965. In 1958 they starred in their own feature film Once Upon a Horse, and began appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1960. They crossed paths with Lucille Ball when they both appeared on Sullivan's show in February 1961. Years later in an interview for the Television Academy, Martin could not recall exactly when he had first met Lucy and Desi, only that he had golfed frequently with the latter, when he got a call in 1962 from Arnaz asking him to come audition for Ball's new sit-com The Lucy Show. Despite having just finished a nightclub performance at 2 a.m. and having to catch a private plane that Arnaz sent for him at 6 a.m., as well as continuing obligations as a nightclub performer with Rowan after the show launched, Martin was cast as Lucy's on-screen neighbor Harry Conners, who was made an airplane pilot to help explain his occasional absences, just as the real-life Martin had to shoot his occasional appearances in bunches, sometimes up to 3 episodes per day, so that he could return to his real job as a comedian. In the above-mentioned interview, Martin says that he wasn't paid much for his role on The Lucy Show but the real payoff was the exposure of a nationwide audience for a top 10-rated program. Martin appeared in only 10 Season 1 episodes of the show before leaving, and an 11th episode was never aired because it depicted Conners and Lucy having a closer relationship than Ball or the producers were comfortable with.

Rowan and Martin continued their nightclub work with occasional TV appearances on The Hollywood Palace until 1966 (the same year Martin appeared in Doris Day's film The Glass Bottom Boat), when they were tabbed as fill-in hosts on  The Dean Martin Summer Show after appearing on the program as performers earlier that year. NBC was so pleased with their tenure on the program that they offered them a special that became the pilot for Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, which aired September 9, 1967. That single program garnered 4 Primetime Emmys, and when Man From U.N.C.L.E. began dropping in the ratings that Fall, NBC decided to replace it with Laugh-In, scheduled opposite The Lucy Show, in January 1968. The program's innovative chaotic format was perfectly suited for the late 1960s, and the program shot to the top of the ratings and became a cultural icon, as well as launching the careers of such future stars as Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. It won 3 more Emmys and was nominated for many more. It also opened numerous other opportunities for the comedy duo, who were suddenly in demand on other variety show as well as appearing in their own feature film The Maltese Bippy, which flopped miserably in 1969. In 1971 Martin remarried to British model and Playboy Playmate Dolly Read, and though they divorced in 1974, they ended up remarrying again in 1978 and stayed married until Martin's death. By 1973 Laugh-In's novelty had worn off and the series was canceled. Though the duo returned as performers during numerous celebrity roasts on The Dean Martin Show in 1974, Rowan, suffering from type II diabetes, essentially retired to Florida, breaking up the comedy duo and leaving Martin searching for other work. Although he occasionally had acting guest spots on late 1970s programs such as The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, most of his work consisted of appearing on game shows such as Match Game, Celebrity Sweepstakes, Celebrity Bowling, Liar's Club, and Tattletales (with wife Dolly). In fact, Martin was doing so much game-show work that he complained to friend Bob Newhart that it was becoming tedious, so Newhart offered him the opportunity to move into directing on his hit series The Bob Newhart Show during its 5th season in 1977, thereby opening up a whole new career for Martin. Not only did Martin direct 33 episodes of Newhart's next series, Newhart, and 3 more of his third series, Bob, on which Martin also appeared 5 times as character Buzz Lowdermilk, but Martin would direct multiple episodes of The Waverly Wonders, Archie Bunker's Place, Flo, Mama's Family, and Brothers. In the 1990s he also had occasional guest acting spots on Coach, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Baywatch, The Nanny, and Diagnosis Murder. in 1998 he appeared in his director son Richard Martin's feature film Air Bud: Golden Receiver. His last screen credit came in the 2001 feature film version of Herman Melville's classic short story Bartleby, though he contributed to several TV specials and documentaries such as Biography from 2000-2007. In 2002, he and Rowan were given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (for Rowan the honor was postuhumous). Late in life Martin developed respiratory problems that could be traced back to his teenage bout with tuberculosis, and he passed away on May 24, 2008 at the age of 86.

Donald Briggs

Donald Preston Briggs was born in Chicago on January 28, 1911, attending Senn High School and working at radio station KYW in 1928. He began his entertainment career as a radio actor, appearing in a plethora of programs beginning in the 1930s, including Death Valley Days, The Guiding Light, The First Nighter Program, The Sheriff, The FBI in Peace and War, and the title role in Adventures of Frank Merriwell, which launched his film career when the series was adapted to a film serial in 1936. Thereafter Briggs had a steady and prolific film career while also continuing in radio. But whilst he was a leading man on radio and in Frank Merriwell, his subsequent film roles tended to be lesser supporting roles, beginning with uncredited work in Sutter's Gold, Show Boat, and After the Thin Man before moving up to credited appearances in Captains Courageous, The First Hundred Years, The Hardys Ride High, and Dr. Kildare Goes Home. In 1942 he married fellow Chicago actor Audrey Christie, better known as a Broadway performer, and oddly both Briggs and Christie have a gap in their filmography from 1942-49. During that time, one of Briggs' jobs was taking over for Santos Ortega in the title role of the radio version of Perry Mason in 1946-47. During this time Christie appeared in the Broadway production of The Voice of the Turtle, the production during which Vivian Vance suffered a nervous breakdown, as mentioned above. But in 1949 Briggs returned to filmed acting, though this time on television, beginning with an appearance on Volume One. His work in the early 1950s consisted mostly of drama anthology series such as Suspense, Tales of Tomorrow, and The Web. Though anthology work continued throughout the rest of the decade, as well as radio programs like Circumstantial Evidence, he also began landing an occasional supporting guest spot on series such as Ethel and Albert, Martin Kane, and Decoy. In the 1960s his roles were less frequent on series such as Naked City and I'm Dickens, He's Fenster before being cast as Vivian Vance's sometime on-screen boyfriend Eddie Collins on The Lucy Show. But as with Dick Martin's Harry Conners, Briggs' character was short-lived, appearing only 7 times over the first two seasons.

Now in his 50s, Briggs found less work but still showed up occasionally on programs such as Gunsmoke, Hazel, and Batman, while also supporting James Garner in The Wheeler Dealers in 1963. He worked with Lucille Ball again in a 1970 episode of Here's Lucy, but by that time was averaging only about 1 TV appearance per year, the last being Police Story in 1975, followed by an uncredited appearance in the feature film W.C. Fields and Me in 1976. He died a decade later on February 3, 1986 in Woodland Hills, California.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 1, Episode 1, "Lucy Waits Up for Chris": Tom Lowell  (shown on the left, appeared in That Darn Cat!, The Gnome-Mobile, and The Boatniks and played Billy Nelson on Combat!) plays Chris' date Alan Harper.

Season 1, Episode 2, "Lucy Digs Up a Date": William Windom  (shown on the right, appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Americanization of Emily, and Escape From the Planet of the Apes and played Congressman Glen Morley on The Farmer's Daughter, John Monroe on My World and Welcome to It, Larry Krandall on Brothers and Sisters, Frank Buckman on Parenthood, and Dr. Seth Hazlitt on Murder, She Wrote) plays Jerry's math teacher Henry Taylor. Robert Rockwell (Phillip Boynton on Our Miss Brooks, Sam Logan on The Man From Blackhawk, Dean Chalmers and Will Thorne on Lassie, Tom Bishop on Diff'rent Strokes, Dr. Simon Hopkins on Days of Our Lives, and Wally Overmier on Growing Pains) plays YMCA resident Tom Bennett. Vito Scotti (Jose on The Deputy, Capt. Gaspar Fomento on The Flying Nun, Gino on To Rome With Love, and Mr. Velasquez on Barefoot in the Park) plays the YMCA fencing instructor. Gene O'Donnell (Judge Charles E. Webber on Peyton Place) plays Eddie Collins' friend Charley Graham.

Season 1, Episode 3, "Lucy Is a Referee": Dennis Rush (Howie Pruitt on The Andy Griffith Show) plays opposing football player Tony Lawrence. Roy Rowan (announcer for I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, Falcon Crest, and Dallas) plays the pro football game TV announcer.

Season 1, Episode 4, "Lucy Misplaces $2000": Charles Lane (shown on the left, played Fosdick on Dear Phoebe, Lawrence Finch on Dennis the Menace, Homer Bedloe on Petticoat Junction, Foster Phinney on The Beverly Hillbillies, Dale Busch on Karen, and Judge Anthony Petrillo on Soap) plays banker Mrs. Barnsdahl. Sandra Gould (played Mildred Webster on I Married Joan and Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched) plays his secretary Miss Thomas. Reta Shaw (Flora McCauley on The Ann Sothern Show, Thelma on The Tab Hunter Show, Mrs. Stanfield on Oh, Those Bells, and Martha Grant on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) plays a grandmother at the carnival. Katie Sweet (Peggy Dayton on Bonanza and Tina Dearborn on Hank) plays her granddaughter Katie. Murvyn Vye (Lionel on The Bob Cummings Show) plays a carnival janitor.

Season 1, Episode 5, "Lucy Buys a Sheep": Parley Baer (shown on the right, see the biography section for the 1961 post on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) plays sheep seller Mr. Evans. Charles Lane (see "Lucy Misplaces $2,000" above) returns as banker Mr. Barnsdahl. Eddie Quillan (starred in The Grapes of Wrath, Mandarin Mystery, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Hi, Good Lookin'! and played Eddie Edson on Julia and Poco Loco on Hell Town) plays photographer Mr. Vincent.

Season 1, Episode 6, "Lucy Becomes an Astronaut": Nancy Kulp (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1962 post on The Beverly Hillbillies) plays NASA commander Jane Corey.

Season 1, Episode 7, "Lucy Is a Kangaroo for a Day": John McGiver (shown on the far right, appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Manchurian Candidate, The Glass Bottom Boat, Midnight Cowboy, The Apple Dumpling Gang and played J.R. Castle on The Patty Duke Show, Walter Burnley on Many Happy Returns, Barton J. Reed on Mr. Terrific, and Dr. Luther Quince on The Jimmy Stewart Show) plays attorney Mr. Irwin. Majel Barrett (shown on the near right, played Nurse Christine Chapel on Star Trek, was the voice of the computer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, and played Julianne Belman on Earth: The Final Conflict) plays his secretary Miss Massey. Charles Lane (see "Lucy Misplaces $2,000" above) returns as banker Mr. Barnsdahl.

Season 1, Episode 8, "Lucy the Music Lover": Frank Aletter (shown on the left, husband of actress Lee Meriwether, played Buddy Flower on Bringing Up Buddy, Frank Bridges on The Cara Williams Show, Mac on It's About Time, Prof. Irwin Hayden on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, and Mayor Richmond on General Hospital) plays Lucy's date Dr. Sam Eastman. Mary Jane Croft (see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) plays her friend Audrey Simmons. Richard Gittings (Bob Anderson on Days of Our Lives) plays the benefit concert M.C.

Season 1, Episode 9, "Lucy Puts Up a TV Antenna": Del Moore (shown on the right, played Alvin on Life With Elizabeth and Cal Mitchell on Bachelor Father) plays TV repairman Herb. Lloyd Corrigan (starred in A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob, Hitler's Children, Captive Wild Woman, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, and Son of Paleface and played Papa Dodger on Willy, Wally Dipple on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Ned Buntline on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Uncle Charlie on Happy, and Professor McKillup on Hank) plays dry cleaner Mr. Holly.

Season 1, Episode 10, "Vivian Sues Lucy": Charles Lane (see "Lucy Misplaces $2,000" above) returns as banker Mr. Barnsdahl.

Season 1, Episode 11, "Lucy Builds a Rumpus Room": Chris Warfield (shown on the left, played Rev. Dr. Frank Thornton on Going My Way) plays dentist Dr. Rudy Warren. Jim Boles (appeared in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Trouble With Angels, Angel in My Pocket, The Love God?, and The Apple Dumpling Gang and  played Joe on One Man's Family) plays a catering delivery man.

Season 1, Episode 13, "Together for Christmas": Joseph Mell (shown on the right, played Bill Pence on Gunsmoke) plays butcher Ernie. Tom Lowell (see "Lucy Waits Up for Chris" above) returns as Chris' boyfriend Alan Harper.