william taylor jr

LUCY MEETS THE BURTONS

S3;E1 ~ September 14, 1970

Directed by Jerry Paris ~ Written by Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis

Synopsis

When film star Richard Burton sneaks out of his hotel disguised as a plumber, Lucy unsuspectingly recruits him to fix the office sink. When Elizabeth Taylor’s famous diamond ring falls out of the pocket of his overalls, Lucy dares to try it on – and it gets stuck on her finger!  With just minutes until a big press party, Lucy comes up with a plan.  

Regular Cast

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

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

Guest Cast

Elizabeth Taylor (Herself) was a British-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s, and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She continued her career successfully into the 1960s, and remained a well known public figure for the rest of her life. Throughout her life, Taylor’s personal affairs were subject to constant media attention. She was married eight times to seven men, marrying Richard Burton twice.  She died in 2011.  

Richard Burton (Himself) was born Richard Walter Jenkins Jr. in Wales in 1924.  He was noted for his mellifluous baritone voice and established himself as a formidable Shakespearean actor in the 1950s.  He gave a memorable performance of Hamlet in 1964 and was called the natural successor to Olivier by critic Kenneth Tynan. Burton was nominated for an Academy Award seven times, but never won.  In 1960 he appeared on Broadway as King Arthur in Camelot (at the same time as Lucille Ball was starring in Wildcat) and won a Tony Award for Best Actor. In the 1960s, Burton was one of the top box office stars and one of the highest-paid actors in the world, receiving $1 million or more per film. Burton remains closely associated in the public consciousness with his second (and third) wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. The couple’s turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news. He died in 1984.

Cliff Norton (Sam The Plumber) makes the first of three appearances on the series after having been seen on two episodes of “The Lucy Show.”

Sam has his name boldly printed on his tool box, the front of his overalls, and on the back.  Just in case anyone mistakes him for Richard Burton!

Brook Williams (Mr. Williams, Hotel Manager) was the younger son of the famous actor and playwright Emlyn Williams (Night Must Fall) and the brother of the novelist Alan Williams. As a child, he was befriended by the Richard Burton and in later years, he became Burton’s personal assistant, adviser and collaborator.  

Richard Burton requested that Williams be cast in the episode.

Vanda Barra (Vanda) was Lucille Ball’s cousin-in-law. This is just one of her over two dozen appearances on “Here’s Lucy” as well as appearing in Ball’s two 1975 TV movies “Lucy Gets Lucky” (with Dean Martin) and “Three for Two” (with Jackie Gleason). She was seen in half a dozen episodes of “The Lucy Show.”

Jose Portugal (Fan, uncredited) makes his only series appearance.  He was also an uncredited extra in the Elizabeth Taylor film Rhapsody (1954).

The Members of the Hollywood Press all play themselves and are named in the final credits (in order of appearance):

Cecil Smith was married to Lucille Ball’s cousin Cleo, who was the show’s producer.  He wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

Joyce Haber was named in 1968 by The Los Angeles Times as a successor to gossip legend and “I Love Lucy” guest star Hedda Hopper, who died in 1966.

James Bacon began as a writer for the Associated Press, then spent almost 20 years with the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

Vernon Scott was a United Press International (UPI) Hollywood correspondent and columnist for 52 years.

Other Members of the Press who are credited, but are not identified or speak dialogue:

  • Army Archerd was a columnist for Daily Variety magazine since 1953 before retiring his “Just for Variety” column in 2005.
  • Marilyn Beck was a well-known Hollywood gossip columnist who studied journalism at USC.
  • Joan Crosby was the one-time president of the Hollywood Women’s Press Club.
  • Dick Kleinerwas a columnist whose question-and-answer column “Ask Dick Kleiner” about Hollywood celebrities appeared in hundreds of newspapers across the country.
  • Morton Moss was a sports and television columnist for the Los Angeles Examiner and later the combined Herald Examiner newspapers.
  • Robert Rose
  • Joyce Adams

Sig Frohlich (Bellhop, uncredited) makes the first of his six appearances on the series.

Mickey Martin (Bellhop, uncredited) appeared with Lucille Ball in the 1934 film Kid Millions starring Eddie Cantor. He was also an uncredited extra in the 1947 Elizabeth Taylor film Cynthia. This is the second of his three episodes of “Here’s Lucy.”  

Other fans, press, and hotel staff are played by uncredited extras.  

Although this episode kicked off the third season, it was filmed much later and moved up as the  season premiere.

For this episode a special title sequence was created for the Burtons, including having their names announced by Roy Rowan. This sequence replaced the one usually given to Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr., who do not appear in this episode.  For the first and only time, Lucille Ball filmed an introduction to the episode that also promoted the many upcoming celebrity guest stars.

This is the first episode to be directed by Jerry Paris, who was also an actor. He played Jerry Helper on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and also wrote 84 episodes, one of which one him an Emmy in 1964.  Paris was hired specifically for this episode. As a condition of employment, he was given a six episode deal. Because he and Lucille Ball clashed in style, only one more episode ever came to pass “Lucy and the Drum Contest” (S3;E4) which was actually filmed before this one.  Paris also requested dialogue coach Bobby Hoffman be hired with the same deal.  The coach ended up intimidated by Burton and directing Ball instead, something Lucy did not tolerate well.  He, too, was let go.

This episode marks the return of original “I Love Lucy” and “The Lucy Show” writers Bob Carroll Jr.  and Madelyn Davis. They were given very short notice to write the script but finished it in a little more than a week.  This is the first time they’ve written for Lucille Ball since 1964.  They would pen 28 more episodes of “Here’s Lucy” as well as the ill-fated series “Life with Lucy” in 1986.  

Although not featured in the episode, Lucie Arnaz announced her engagement to Phil Vandervoort during the show’s Monday table read.  The two were married in 1971.

A thirty minute documentary film “Lucy Meets the Burtons: A Comedic Gem” was included on DVD release of “Here’s Lucy” season 3.  It includes interviews with Lucie Arnaz, Carole Cook, and behind the scenes footage.

This show’s plot was built around the real-life publicity achieved when Richard Burton bought his wife Elizabeth Taylor a 68 carat Cartier diamond ring worth over a million dollars. Property Master Ken Westcott created two replica rings for the medium and long shots which were crafted from chandelier crystals. Although he wanted to keep one after the shoot, Ball took one and Taylor took the other.

Luclle Ball first met Elizabeth Taylor in an arranged ‘set visit’ during the shooting of 1953′s The Long, Long Trailer.  

Lucille Ball and Gary Morton met the Burtons at a Los Angeles party given by the English ambassador.  After a few drinks, Richard Burton said that he wanted to work with Lucy. The next morning he regretted it and had his agent call to retract the offer.  When asked to keep his promise, however, he and Taylor agreed.  

Although Burton had immense respect for Lucille Ball’s talent, the two had vastly different working styles. Ball was unhappy that he continually underplayed his lines.  On more than one occasion she barked at him “Speak up, Richard! Speak up!” Burton muttered “If she says that one more time, it’s back to the hotel for both of us” (meaning him and Taylor).  

When Lucille Ball’s long-time hairstylist Irma Kusely heard that Elizabeth Taylor was to be a guest she bragged about knowing the star. Lucie Arnaz thought she was fibbing until Taylor’s first visit to the set. When Taylor spotted Kusely across the soundstage she shouted at the top of her voice “Irma!!!” Taylor naturally brought her own hairstylist, Sidney Guilaroff, to the shoot.

For their four days of work on “Here’s Lucy,” the Burtons were each paid $2,500 plus amenities: 

  • private air transportation 
  • separate limousines 
  • separate trailers (each kitted out with luxury items from their rider list) 
  • separate bungalows at the Beverly Hills Hotel 
  • separate security guards  

At one point Burton admired a sweater that Producer Gary Morton was wearing, so Morton told him where to find it and to stop by and charge it to Lucille Ball Productions. Burton bought one in every color – 16 sweaters!

Elizabeth Taylor’s elaborate trailer came with a list of her preferred champagne and chocolates. The trailer was originally built for Barbra Streisand when she filmed On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) at Paramount.  For some reason, no one was allowed to mention the name ‘Barbra Streisand’ in front of Elizabeth Taylor!  

Casting members of the Hollywood Press in bit roles assured that the episode received amazing publicity, including the above cover of TV Guide.  It ultimately became CBS’s highest rated show on the air for the 1971-72 television season.  It was also the best remembered episode of the entire series.

Lucille Ball’s protege and friend Carole Cook recalls tickets for the filming were at a premium and the audience was filled with celebrities, politicians and Hollywood big-wigs.   

The hotel manager tells Richard Burton that the Burtons have replaced Lawrence Welk and Liberace on the bus tour of the movie stars homes.  Burton says that almost makes up for losing the Oscar. The sympathetic studio audience must agree because they burst into applause at the line. Welk andLiberace guest starred as themselves on season two episodes of “Here’s Lucy.” Burton could be referring to any one of seven nominations he lost, but the most recent would have been for Anne of A Thousand Days in 1969.  A bus tour of the movie stars homes was featured in “The Tour” (ILL S4;E30).  

The hotel manager tells Burton that the back door is mobbed by the Elizabeth Taylor Fan Club – Glendale Chapter.  Membership to the club requires seeing National Velvet 10 times!  National Velvet (1945) was made when Taylor was just twelve years old.  

Lucy makes the common error of thinking Sam the Plumber (Burton) is English. He stridently corrects her: “Certainly not!  I’m a Welshman!”  Burton even speaks a little untranslated Welsh. 

When Burton (as Sam) asks Lucy if she wants to hear some Shakespeare, he does a soliloquy from Richard II.

Lucy pays Sam / Burton $23.50 for fixing the leak in the sink, taking fifty cents off for the time he took to recite Shakespeare!

Harry brags to Burton that he starred in his college theatre production of Anthony and Cleopatra – as Cleopatra!  In a previous episode, Harry admitted he went to an all-boys school and also played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. On “The Lucy Show” Lucy Carmichael played Cleopatra in a community theatre production of Anthony and Cleopatra.  Harry played Ceaser in a musical revue in “Lucy and the Generation Gap” (S2;E12).

When Harry leaves the office to find Burton a cab, he dramatically paraphrases Richard III:“A cab!  A cab!  My kingdom for a cab!” and exits with a flourish. When her returns he paraphrases Hamlet: “Yet hereLaertesAboardaboard, your cab awaits!”

A portion of the episode’s ending with Elizabeth Taylor saying “Good night, Lucy” in a voice reminiscent of Arte Johnson’s German soldier character on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” was cut for broadcast but is included on the DVD extras.  

Traditionally, after “Here’s Lucy” finished filming, Lucille Ball and Gary Morton would go to Matteo’s for supper.  But after this episode, a lavish wrap party catered by Chasen’s was held in an adjoining studio.  

In his later years, Richard Burton did not remember this episode kindly. He characterized Lucille Ball as a manipulative, controlling bitch. 

Because both Lucy Ricardo and Lucy Carmichael were both star-struck, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s names were both mentioned frequently on previous “Lucy” sitcoms.  In “A Date for Lucy” (S1;E19) Lucy Carter and Mary Jane fantasize about dating Richard Burton, except that Elizabeth Taylor wouldn’t approve. Burton was also mentioned in another dating-themed episode “Lucy the Matchmaker” (S1;E12).

The gag of Lucy placing her arm through a curtain was first used in “The Handcuffs” (ILL S2;E4) when Ricky has to perform on a television show while still handcuffed to Lucy!  The gag was repeated on an “Lucy the Music Lover” (TLS S1;E8) where Lucy Carmichael has to bow a violin for a virtuoso violinist with a wounded hand.  All three episodes were written by Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis.

When trying on a ring Mr. Mooney has purchased for his wife’s birthday, Lucy Carmichael can’t get it off her finger in “Lucy and the Ring-a-Ding Ring” (TLS S5;E5).  

When Lucy is trying to act nonchalant in the office with Richard Burton staring at her the moment is very similar to when Lucy Ricardo discovered that William Holden was staring at her eat at the Brown Derby in “Hollywood at Last!” (ILL S4;E16).  

Plumbing problems were also the cause for a celebrity cameo (or two) in “Lucy and the Plumber” (TLS S3;E2).  In that case, the stars in coveralls were Jack Benny and Bob Hope.

Burton jokes that he got the ring out of a Cracker Jack Barrel. On “I Love Lucy” Ethel Mertz often joked that her wedding ring came out of a box of Cracker Jack.  This was a favorite joke of writers Carroll and Davis.

Game Face! When Elizabeth Taylor makes her first entrance (nearly 20 minutes into the show), she can’t help but grin when she is greeted by applause, hoots, and whistles from the studio audience.  It is worth remembering that Taylor was not used to stage work like Burton and had little experience with live audiences in a dramatic context.

Security Continuity!  When the closeup of the diamond is shown, one can tell that the background is different from the medium shot. That is because the show’s insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of showing the diamond at the studio just in case it were lost or stolen, so a another shot had to be done at a different, more secure location.

Facelift! For season three, the Unique Employment Agency has been redecorated: new wallpaper, new chairs, a new lamp, painted railings, there is even a bathroom where a closet used to be!  Lucy has finally upgraded to an electric typewriter!  Gone are the tribal masks and spears that previously decorated the wall behind Lucy’s desk. The little shelf in the vestibule with the model clipper ship is also gone. The office finally looks more like an employment agency and less like an antiques dealer.

“Lucy and the Burtons” rates 5 Paper Hearts out of 5

It’s no mystery why this episode is so popular.  It combines two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, two of Lucy’s best gags, two of Lucy’s finest writers, one red-hot sitcom director, and the biggest bling in La La Land!  

The Sound of Her Breathing

The four walls of a room
momentarily
holding the ugliness of the world
at bay
enough to drink
until the dawn
the warmth of a body 
pressed against my own
a few moments of living
wedged in
between the drudgery of mere existence
there is nothing else to ask for
the sound of her breathing
is all I need of poetry
I offer no explanation
no definition
for this last moment in time
I like the feeling of my hand
upon her belly
and that is enough.

- William Taylor Jr.

10

yahooentertainment Top 10 Posts Tagged Celebs:

  1. Robert Downey, Jr. on the ‘Iron Man 3’ red carpet
  2. Puppeteer Niall Horan at '1D: This is Us’ premiere
  3. Jennifer Lawrence reacts to being named “Queen of Tumblr”
  4. Taylor Swift’s onstage wardrobe change at the AMAs
  5. Amanda Seyfried poses with her dog, Finn
  6. Lance Bass takes selfies with a duck
  7. Royal baby’s royal wave
  8. Merritt Wever gives short Emmy acceptance speech
  9. Benedict Cumberbatch walks London runways
  10. Rihanna suits up for Carnival