Desi Arnaz

4

He wanted to be here tonight. I’d like to read something that he wrote:

‘I Love Lucy’ had just one mission: to make people laugh. Lucy gave it a rare quality. She can perform the wildest, even the messiest physical comedy without losing her feminine appeal. The ‘New York Times’ asked me to divide the credit for its success between the writers, directors and the cast. I told them, ‘Give Lucy 90% of the credit. Divide the other 10% among the rest of us.’ Desi concluded: Lucy was the show. Viv, Fred, and I were just props. Damn good props. But props nevertheless. PS- ‘I Love Lucy’ was never just a title.

-Desi Arnaz’s tribute to his ex-wife Lucille Ball, read by Robert Stack at the Kennedy Center Honors on December 7, 1986, five days after Desi had passed away from lung cancer.

[x]

2

I Love Lucy has been called the most popular television show of all time. Such national devotion to one show can never happen again; there are too many shows on many more channels now. But in 1951-1952, our show changed the Monday-night habits of America. Between nine and nine-thirty, taxis disappeared from the streets of New York. Marshall Fields department store in Chicago hung up a sign: ‘We Love Lucy too, so from now on we will be open Thursday nights instead of Monday.’ Telephone calls across the nation dropped sharply during that half hour, as well as the water flush rate, as whole families sat glued to their seats.”

Sixty-Five Years of I Love Lucy // October 15, 1951

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (from I Love Lucy) sharing a milkshake. The absence of wedding rings suggests this was taken in 1940, as they were married in November of 1940 and had met only 6 months earlier. Even though they divorced in 1960 they remained good friends, with Arnaz even saying “I Love Lucy was never just a title.” I think the fans agreed.