vince and larry

LUCY AND THE EX-CON

S1;E15 ~ January 13, 1969

Directed by Jack Donohue ~ Written by Robert O'Brien

Synopsis

The Unique Employment Agency sends Rocky (Wally Cox), a reformed safe cracker, on an assignment as a janitor.  When the place is robbed, Rocky is the number one suspect.  Disguised as old ladies, Lucy and Rocky go undercover to catch the real crook.  

Regular Cast

Lucille Ball (Lucy Carter), Gale Gordon (Harrison Otis Carter)

Lucie Arnaz (Kim Carter) and Desi Arnaz Jr. (Craig Carter) do not appear in this episode.

Guest Cast

Wally Cox (Rocky Barnett) was probably best known as America’s favorite science teacher “Mr. Peepers” (1952-55) on NBC. Cox had played a nervous musician on a 1963 episode of “The Lucy Show.”  This is the first of his four appearances (playing different eccentric characters) on “Here’s Lucy.”  He was also a regular panelist on “The Hollywood Squares.”  Cox died in 1973 at age 48.  

Rocky is short for Rockingham.  

Bruce Gordon (‘Doc’ Morgan) is best known for playing Frank Nitti on the Desilu series “The Untouchables” (1959-63).  He played a version of the character when “The Lucy Show” parodied “The Untouchables” in 1966.  

Doc Morgan is so named because he uses a stethoscope when safe cracking. Bruce Gordon was not related to Gale Gordon.

Irving Benson (Irving) was an ex-vaudevillian Milton Berle hired to appear as a heckler named Sidney Spritzer on his variety shows. This is his only appearance with Lucille Ball.  He died at the age of 102.

Vince Howard (Policeman, extreme left) was much more at home in hour-long crime dramas (like “Mannix” or “Mission: Impossible”) than in sitcoms.  Many of his 125 TV and film credits were as law enforcement officials.  Howard also played a policeman on “Lucy and Mannix are Held Hostage” (S4;E4).  

Larry J. Blake (Policeman) appeared as a Native American Medicine Man in “Lucy the Rain Goddess” (TLS S4;E15).  He was an ex-vaudevillian making the first of his eight “Here’s Lucy” appearances.

Some of the patrons of the Seadrifter Cafe (uncredited) are played by:

  • Don Anderson was seen in the last two episodes of “The Lucy Show” as well as making three appearances on “Here’s Lucy.”
  • Victor Romito was seen as the Bartender in Lucy Meets John Wayne” (S5;E10). He also appeared in four episodes of “Here’s Lucy.”  Romito was an extra in the 1960 Lucille Ball / Bob Hope film Critic’s Choice.

  • Chalky Williams played a police officer (uncredited) in “The Ricardos Go To Japan” in 1959.  He was an uncredited extra in many TV and film westerns, often found sitting on a bar stool.  

The scantily clad blonde waitresses, the taxi driver, and the other Seadrifter patrons are played by uncredited background performers.

For his employment application, Rocky lists his aliases: Riley, Murphy, Shapiro, Agnew, and Smith.

Bruce Gordon introduces this episode on the “Here’s Lucy” DVD collection.  He passed away in 2011.  

Lucy sends Mr. Barnett to Parker Import Company for a job as a maintenance man (aka janitor).

Lucy goes undercover as Abigail Throckmorton and Rocky as Lydia Perkins (of the Pasadena Perkins’) from the Ladies Civic Betterment Committee.  The mention of Pasadena gets a laugh from the studio audience because of the Beach Boys hit song “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” (1964) sung by Jan and Dean. Ball and Cox are dressed as stereotypical little old ladies.  

Lucy and Rocky decide to fake getting drunk to gain access to Doc’s office, which allows Lucy to deliver the clever line: “Might I have a Mai Tai?” The Mai Tai is an alcoholic cocktail based on rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice, and usually adorned with Polynesian-style decorations like paper umbrellas and tropical flowers.  Doc says his Mai Tai’s have seven different kinds of rum.  

After too many Mai Tais, Lucy drunkenly croons a few bars of “Sweet Leilani,” a song featured in the 1937 film Waikiki Wedding. It won the Academy Award and Bing Crosby’s recording of it became one of the biggest hits of 1937. The music then segues into “The Hawaiian War Chant,” a traditional island melody first written in 1860.  Lucy dances energetically shaking her maracas – and other body parts.  

When Lucy and Rocky pass out (as planned) Doc says “Iriving! Give me a hand with arsenic and old face.” Arsenic and Old Lace was a 1939 Broadway play and 1944 film where two elderly spinsters serve lethal glasses of elderberry wine to unsuspecting older gentlemen and bury them in their basement!

Lucy Carmichael recruited the help of an ex-con safe cracker (Jay Novello, above) to get Mr. Mooney out of a the bank vault in “Lucy and the Safe Cracker” (TLS S2;E5).

Lucille Ball first performed “The Hawaiian War Chant” with Vivian Vance in “Ricky’s Hawaiian Vacation” (ILL S3;E22, inset).  She performed it again in “Lucy and Carol in Palm Springs” (TLS S5;E8).  Ball and Vance will sing it again on “Here’s Lucy” in “Lucy Goes Hawaiian” (S3;E23, above).  

This is not the first time Lucille Ball has played the archetypal little old lady.  Lucy Ricardo made herself old to ward off the affections of Arthur Morton (Richard Crenna) in “The Young Fans” (ILL S1;E20)… 

…and then again to seal a real estate deal in “The Girls Go Into Business” (ILL S3;E2)

Lucy Carmichael aged herself in “Lucy Helps the Countess” (TLS S4;E8) and “Lucy and the Soap Opera” (TLS S4;E19) – both times wearing the same costume!  

Mrs. Carmichael also poses as a wealthy octogenarian in “Little Old Lucy” (TLS S6;E7).

Lucy tells Rocky she doesn’t own a car, but in a previous episode Lucy audibly sideswipes the garage when coming home from work – blaming both the wide car and the narrow garage, of course. 

A big black safe has been moved into the Unique Employment Agency offices for the sake of the episode’s plot. 

When Lucy and Rocky enter the Seadrifter Cafe, they leave the door open. Doors left open or ajar was a frequent occurrence on “The  Lucy Show.”

“Lucy and the Ex-Con” rates 4 Paper Moons out of 5